Evolving was the name of the game at Extrovertic Communications last year. After going through the traumatic experience of losing its biggest client, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, in 2012, the agency really had no choice but to rethink its business model. How’s that process working out for them? So far so good.
“Extrovertic has evolved from an agency into a biopharma consultancy that provides marketing strategy and support to executives and brand leaders,” says agency founding partner Dorothy Wetzel.
“In 2013 we decided to focus where Extrovertic had a differential advantage. Our creative services were very good, but not a source of differentiation,”she adds. “Our strategic services, on the other hand, are what our clients told us set us apart. As a result of our shift in focus, we gained four new clients in 2013, ranging from pre-commercial to mid-size pharmaceutical companies.”
Evolution doesn’t generally come easy, so it should be no surprise that 2013 was something of a struggle financially for Extrovertic. While the agency’s new operating model has less overhead, eliminating legacy costs proved to be expensive. However, Wetzel believes that Extrovertic has emerged as a more flexible, leaner organization in 2014. “We take advantage of opportunities that have arisen as part of the new sharing economy,” she says. “For example, Extrovertic moved its offices to WeWork in Soho West, which has dramatically reduced our cost structure. As importantly, Extrovertic can tap into the highly connected WeWork community of communication entrepreneurs to offer our clients new and often more efficient ways to create and distribute content.”
In line with its evolution, Extrovertic has shifted towards working with smaller to mid-sized companies on strategic projects. The agency, Wetzel notes, often finds itself working alongside more traditional agencies to fill the strategy gap with unbiased advice, marketing perspective, and skilled temporary staff.
Some recent projects that Extrovertic has worked on have included evaluating the impact and ROI of DTC in raising patient (and HCP) awareness of a rare disease, helping a small pharma company implement CRM and develop a non-personal promotion strategy for specialty HCPs, creating the value proposition and core messaging for a biotech start-up launching a new healthcare technology, and orchestrating a different approach to the agency search process for a mid-sized pharma company disappointed with its previous traditional search.
“We will continually evolve our marketing frameworks to help clients strategically,” Wetzel says. “Extrovertic can help clients leverage the dizzying array of new opportunities to create and distribute marketing messages, navigate the new patient-centric healthcare environment to build brand value and sales, and build enduring marketing capabilities to execute with excellence in the changing healthcare marketplace.”
A turn towards efficiency by a marketing agency doesn’t really seem all that out of place today, given that most pharma companies themselves are going through the same sort of turn—albeit on a considerably larger scale. “The biggest challenge for the healthcare industry as a whole is to deliver care cost-effectively in a way that measurably improves patient outcomes and experience,” Wetzel says. “That requires marketers to do a wholesale reevaluation about how they spend their promotional dollars. Extrovertic believes marketers will be putting a premium on partners who can help them think through the most efficient and measurable ways to deploy their resources, both time and money.”