The leaders of MEI, one of the flagship agencies of the burgeoning Medical Knowledge Group network of health firms, are fond of noting how the faces in the room haven’t changed all that much over the years.
In nearly every conversation, those leaders state with pride that the agency has worked alongside many of its clients for at least five years. Similarly, they report that the bar for long-term-employee status has been set very high — at 20-plus years, rather than 10 or 12.
Despite this continuity, EVP, account services Leslie Turner stresses that MEI isn’t content to extend relationships simply for the sake of extending relationships, and that its people go out of their way to reject the status quo.
Even as the agency tries to keep employee and client churn to a minimum — at a time when such relationships are very much in flux industry-wide — it continues to evolve its thinking, tools and processes to accommodate changing customer needs.
The goal, Turner says, is to never stop learning and growing, especially in terms of the capabilities MEI offers. Long-term relationships, after all, need to be nurtured — and, occasionally, spiced up, whether the impetus comes from the agency side or the client team.
“The companies we work with are constantly pushing us,” she notes. “And we constantly push ourselves to come up with new and innovative ideas by always keeping our eye on what’s happening in the industry. We adapt to the trends and make sure that all of our clients stay relevant for their needs.”
MEI saw its revenue jump nearly 11% during 2022, to $56.9 million from $51.3 million the year prior. Notable client relationships include Zogenix, Jazz Pharmaceuticals and Servier Pharmaceuticals. The agency increased head count from 179 full-timers at the end of 2021 to 203 at the end of 2022.
Over the course of the past few years, MEI has bolstered its expertise in helping client companies more effectively educate their field teams. In order to ensure that reps are equipped with the most up-to-date clinical information, the agency recently devised a next-gen interactive digital training tool.
“It is visually appealing and immersive, but it also offers an intuitive way of training on scientifically rigorous information,” Turner explains. She notes that one iteration of the tool includes two disease states, and that others can be added.
Indeed, in the long wake of COVID-19, MEI has focused on tools and technologies that are designed to bring people together. By way of example, Turner points to MEI’s enhanced speaker training, which she says once again feels “new and fresh.”
While virtual training tided companies over during the worst of the pandemic, Turner doesn’t believe that such instruction truly bolstered trainees’ speaking skills. MEI reports positive feedback around the agency’s work in areas like facilitation — which, Turner says, benefits from face-to-face contact.
“We have pulled in some resources that allow for additional value-add, like in-person meetings with HCPs,” she adds. “Speaker training is at the heart of what we do, so we want to make sure that we provide the peer-to-peer perspective and get the sales force in front of their HCPs.”
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Our marketing role model…
He’s not a conventional marketer, but Siddhartha Mukherjee, the physician who authored one of the most influential books of the century, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, embodies our foundational values. He has expanded awareness of market-defining topics in health-care through a perceptive understanding of science and an unwavering passion for the ever-evolving field of medicine. — Turner