The meeting started out somewhat awkwardly. First, Dan Kane, the vice president of marketing opened the meeting by saying “I don’t like Mike Durbin.” Poor Mike had so much trouble getting to San Diego for our meeting, I couldn’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t like him. Well, I can certainly understand why a marketing guy would be a little jealous of someone who had a feature article (above the flap) in USA Today and a profile in Diabetes Living (of which I now have a signed copy).
I was not invited the first year of the Social Media Summit but a characterization that started then and has continued is the idea that having Roche and a bunch of diabetes community members in the same room is like a junior high dance. The groups start out on opposite sides of the room and look at each other suspiciously, not knowing exactly how to approach each other. Now that we have gotten to know each other a little bit better and have interacted throughout the year, it is a little more comfortable. Kane reminded us that for them this is still “not about the product. In order for us to be a better company, we have to know you better.”
Continuing the dance analogy, Kane explained that Roche used to storm into the room proving they were the biggest and strongest, but realized through the social media summits that it was “not the way to get a first kiss” – it’s all about chemistry. That chemistry inspired Roche to produce “The Great American Value Campaign” which showed real Roche workers with diabetes doing real things. With that, Kane added that as a company “we hope you continue to work with us to change us.”
Around the diabetes online community there has always been some healthy skepticism about what Roche is doing inviting about 30 outspoken diabetes community members to meet with them. At some point it has to be about sales, doesn’t it? Scott Strumello asked just that. Kane responded that the product influence has not necessarily been in sales but in influence and relevance. For example, diabetes educators were asked which company is more interested in helping to promote behavioral changes. In that past few years that has increasingly become Roche (see ACCU-CHEK Testing in Pairs and ACCU-CHEK 360 for examples). Kane hopes people will see who they are and listen more, because as he says “at the end of the day we have to do the thing that helps the most.”
This post only covers the first presentation of the first day. I have hundreds of pictures, a few videos, and a lot more to say.
One thing I am most excited to tell you about is a new product for glucagon injections. My mom even tried it and she has never even given me a single injection of anything! It is going to be a life changing product for a lot of people with diabetes.