Over the last several months, I’ve introduced companies that are successful while also doing good for all stakeholders – employees, the community and shareholders. Many of the companies that I have introduced are younger, more agile businesses that on the surface seem more likely to incorporate ethonomics in their evolving business plans.
But last week a pharmaceutical giant jumped into this mix. A friend of mine at Pfizer  called and told me about a new program they are launching to help people during this economic turmoil. At first I was somewhat ambivalent because all big companies donate to charities and support the local sports teams. But after a few minutes, I realized that Pfizer  is doing something different that may have a big ethonomic impact.
Pfizer  has announced a new program that offers free Pfizer  medications for the recently unemployed. The initiative, called Medicines Assistance For Those Who Are In Need (MAINTAIN) , aims to help patients with existing Pfizer prescriptions continue an uninterrupted course of therapy. It is the first of its kind in the biopharmaceutical industry, and the program was developed and realized by Pfizer ’s management within one month.
Of course applicants must fill out some forms and show proof of job loss and financial hardship. But that seems minor compared to the benefits that participants will enjoy, including Pfizer  medicines for up to 12 months or until they become reinsured.
Now there are several reasons that a big company like Pfizer  would engage in this community outreach.
First, they want to look good.
Second, by giving away medicines, Pfizer’s management knows that they will ensure patient loyalty to their drugs even after that patient no longer needs the MAINTAIN  program.
Third, Pfizer actually cares about patients.
This is strategy # 2: Exchange a brick for a jade. This occurs when you give something on which you place relatively little value in exchange for something you value much more.
It makes sense that Pfizer  would like positive PR, but I think it is actually patient care and the enhanced consumer loyalty that is driving this program.
Isn’t that true ethonomics? Pfizer  isn’t just going to give away free drugs to the unemployed with no obvious return on investment, but does that mean their motives are tainted? I say “no” because what matters is that families will be able to maintain their prescription healthcare despite losing jobs and facing trying financial times.
Pfizer ’s ROI remains to be unseen, and the MAINTAIN  program won’t be fully operational until next month. But the approach is unique, and one that other businesses can learn from. Ask yourself the questions below to see how you can give something away, while earning customer respect and loyalty.
1. What service or good do I charge for that I could offer for free?
2. How can I offer a free service or good without cutting too much of my profits?
3. How can I package my free service or good to show people how it’s beneficial?