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Creativity and Courage: An Innovative Brand Experience for Healthcare Professionals

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Q&A with Event Marketer B-to-B Dream Team Member Laine Mann of Pfizer

As Director, Global Congress Lead at Pfizer, Dream Team member Laine Mann is establishing a different kind of event presence that uses interactive exhibits to help reach customers. We recently spoke with her about how her team is trying to better understand — and meet — the needs of customers by drilling down through in-depth interviewing and building new solutions.

Q: Your role at Pfizer involves working within a lean team that handles hundreds of events globally. How would you best describe what your team does and how you operate?

LM: At its core, our main objective is to create global event experiences that merge our brands with our customers to see how we can meet their needs.

To do so, I have to function as both a master storyteller and orchestra conductor, working directly with our customers — both internal and external — to build an amazing, personal brand experience. Our job is to discover what their essential needs and objectives are. From their input, we can identify the strategic marketing initiatives necessary to meet those needs.

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Q: How do you go about getting to know Pfizer event customers better, including understanding what they care about and what they're looking for?

LM: The Pfizer event customer is a unique group. And when I say “customer,” I mean both internal and external, which, in a way, means that my brand is also my customer. And because I want to find out their needs and pain points, I devote a lot of time to “empathy” interviewing. That means I'll actually interview them before, during, and after events so I can get to the core of what their needs are.

I truly believe in building solutions together with customers because it helps eliminate guesswork.

We owe it to our customers to extract this profound level of feedback, just as we owe it to Pfizer brands to understand our customers as deeply as possible. It's no longer “if you build it, they will come.” Now, it's “if you build it together, you’ll find the solution — then they will come.”

Q: That’s a unique way to get to know such a broad customer base. How do you check the pulse for whether you’re connecting on the right level or not?

LM: As part of the creative process, you're always prototyping and iterating. So, I’m continually testing our strategies by going back to the customer and sharing the prototype to ensure we have met the mark. If it turns out that we haven't met that need, then we pivot; we re-interview to nail down their exact needs and create a solution that does work.

Q: I’m guessing that’s where the master storyteller part comes in handy.

LM: Exactly! Every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Healthcare is no different.

Creativity and great storytelling take courage — the courage to really dive in, dig deep, find and uncover the story, and then let it unfold. It’s kind of like going to a workbench and choosing the tools and materials to see what will work best. What can we build from these parts that will solve that need?

Through the interviewing process, we build from the perspective of the interviewee by creating a point of view of that customer or individual. If the solution we come up with doesn’t quite fit, we must also have the courage to say it’s not right, go back, reiterate, and rebuild it until we get it right.

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Q: What are some of the unique event experiences that help bring the Pfizer story to life?

LM: We collaborated with our association partners to talk with their event attendees prior to their conferences to find out what they wanted to see from a company like Pfizer. They answered, “What we really want to hear is how you will be there throughout our patient's life.”

So, we designed what ultimately became the “journey of healthy aging” through mirror technology that allowed event attendees to literally see themselves through the eyes of a baby, a high school student at a senior prom, or several other roles on through retirement.

  • It functioned as if you were looking into a mirror, but an image or video within the mirror appeared as if you were the subject.
  • First, you appeared as a baby, observing being brought home with loved ones smiling and welcoming you to the world.
  • The next mirror appeared as if you were an adolescent about to go to a high school dance with your parents telling you to be careful, etc.
  • This continued all the way to older age at the last mirror.
  • And then we showed them the different Pfizer brands and medicines that would accompany them along the way.

After the journey, we asked attendees, “What emotions did this experience draw from you? How did you feel when you left the exhibit?” The testimonials we received revealed that people initially expected Pfizer to be sales-focused — but what they learned was that our medicines and company are there to support the attendee and their patients throughout their lives.

Q: How important is the event customer experience to your marketing strategies?

LM: If it’s not the most important thing, then it's definitely very, very close. Our customers’ experience, whether positive or negative, is going to determine their potential to build a relationship with our company and products.

Establishing trust and credibility is so incredibly important.

For example, would someone recommend our products to friends and family? It’s even more important in the age of social media, where everybody can tell their story about experiences with brands and get feedback instantaneously.

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Q: Are there any new digital trends or innovations you’re really excited about to help Pfizer tell its story?

LM: We know millennial healthcare professionals want their information in ways that are immediate and easy to digest. The projection mapping tech I mentioned earlier has been a great solution for us. It’s unique and innovative, and it provides an incredibly interactive and immediate experience.

Being lectured to in an hours-long educational session doesn’t really cut it anymore. It’s always going to be important to have personal, face-to-face engagement. That’s the only way you get to see a smile on somebody's face — that "aha" moment — when our brand message sinks in.

Q: Where do you find the inspiration for your continually evolving event strategies?

LM: Anywhere we can! We’ll often go outside the healthcare industry to different association meetings to keep learning about new trends. It’s a great way to meet with larger organizations and find out how they're identifying customer needs and generating positive recognition for their brand.

Q: What do you love most about what you do?

LM: Putting my problem-solving abilities to work. And I'm absolutely all about the storytelling. I come from a family of three girls who liked to talk. Growing up we were always telling our own stories and listening to other people’s stories.

I love combining both of those personal enjoyments to create effective business solutions.

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