Conferences tend to be fairly routine, scheduled and at times tedious — but the Tuesday keynote address at Digital Pharma East 2023 aimed to shake up that dynamic to prove a point.

Dustin Garis, who considers himself a “chief troublemaker,” drove home the idea that routine is the “greatest enemy of innovation.” If you want to be innovative, he says you must live innovation.

Garis currently holds the title of “chief troublemaker” at his consulting firm Garis Innovation, previously holding the same title at both Ericsson and American Express. He also worked as a global brand innovation leader and chief marketing officer at Procter & Gamble.

With innovation a common buzzword at conferences like DPE, Garis aimed to dig deeper into how healthcare marketers can generate what Garis calls “life profit” — or the meaningful life moments that deviate outside regular routine, and make a day more memorable.

“Sometimes you have to try something new, as those are the experiences where the magic happens,” Garis said. “The world’s most breakthrough companies are not just innovating on technology or marketing or new products, but rather innovating on the human experience. That means fundamentally changing how we engage with customers.”

Garis claims that he sought to research what the “meaning of life” was while leading marketing and global innovation at Procter & Gamble. The project took him to 50 countries across six continents — all to gather insight into “what people want most in life, and how you can give it to them,” he said.

The experience was distilled, for Garis, into one quote: “Life is not the number of days you live, it’s the number of days you remember.”

Marketers should embrace the idea of introducing novel life experiences to their audiences and disrupt what’s known as the “cognitive autopilot,” or the daily grind or routine that involves doing the same things over and over. 

Routine lifestyles are linked to a lack of innovation and a sense of disengagement after all, Garis argued.

The solution is to innovate on the human experience. 

For marketers, that can start small, and in their own lives (taking the scenic route instead of the regular route, for example). Pattern disruptions can lead to more memorable experiences, which in turn can add value to what Garis calls “life profit” — or the incremental richness of life experiences.

He argued that this approach can lead to financial profit, highlighting companies like Uber, Amazon and AirBnB that focused their strategy on tracking and generating life profit.

“What if [pharma marketers] did something similar, and didn’t just measure results on the number of prescriptions, but rather the memorable moments created?” Garis asked. “That would change our roles into not only marketers, but also into heroes, to rescue people from having yet another ordinary day.”

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