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
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.
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,
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
First, they want to
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
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
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?