The Pharma Report: Agents of change

bMod's key to success is understanding what's driving customers
As part of the U.N.’s COVID-19 Creative Response, bMod drew on national pride and Canadian identity to encourage everyone to follow the rules.

As part of the U.N.’s COVID-19 Creative Response, bMod drew on national pride and Canadian identity to encourage everyone to follow the rules.

Montreal’s bMod COMMUNICATIONS has been on the map since 2003, but this year will likely go down as one of its busiest ever. The team has already been involved in 11 pitches in the last six months – winning nine – and has grown by almost 25%.

“I believe we are the largest independently owned healthcare agency in Canada” notes agency co-founder Kathryn Buck. “We’re proud of maintaining our independence because it allows us to be truly agile, innovative, and efficient.”

VPs Robyn Schwartz and Maria DiIorio led their team through a flurry of lockdown pitches, winning nine new accounts and growing the business 25%.

VPs Robyn Schwartz and Maria DiIorio led their team through a flurry of lockdown pitches, winning nine new accounts and growing the business 25%.

“People are often surprised by how large our team is and how long we’ve been around. I think it’s the level of partnership we offer that’s been a big driver of our success. It’s been hugely important to us to maintain an experienced and passionate team that understands the full scope of our clients’ business, as bMod has grown.”

And bMod has flourished, as a full-service, healthcare marketing agency with a wealth of experience in both offline and digital strategies and offerings, including Veeva Level 4 certification. In their nearly two decades, they’ve collaborated with some of the biggest names in pharma to help build a more customer-centric offering, including Sanofi, Sandoz, AbbVie, Novartis, BMS, Taiho and Bayer.

While COVID may have changed the global landscape in 2020, it hasn’t changed the way bMod looks at the world. In fact, says VP of client services, Maria DiIorio, “the challenging environment has just played into the agency’s strengths, placing more emphasis on the need to meaningfully partner with clients and identify how to move customers regardless of the channel.”

“I feel like our conversations haven’t changed, they’re just appreciated more now” she notes. “At the beginning, our clients were talking about the short term – ‘Okay, in the next three months, how are we going to fill the gap? What are we going to do while the reps are not in the field?’. We approached it from a long-term viewpoint right from the beginning. COVID is going through 2021 and beyond; this is the reality. We need to get even more customer-centric now and for the long haul.”

bMod believes the pandemic accelerated an evolution that was already underway, forcing the industry to be more innovative and nimbler – and changing the dynamic between agency and client. “It’s not just about being in tune with the latest technology” says VP of operations, Robyn Schwartz. “It’s about already being out in front of that technology so you can proactively help your clients manage what they’re going through.”

Case in point, bMod recently remotely launched a global campaign in Italy, doing all the work virtually from Canada.

“There was a point in time where the project was put on hold because the client wasn’t sure they wanted to go ahead,” recalls Schwartz. “But we reassured them that it could be done, and exceptionally well – and it really was. We were able to get 400 employees on the line at the same time and really transcend the technology. We found new ways to engage the audience. COVID has just pushed everyone to embrace innovation.”

COVID has placed more emphasis on connections, says VP Maria DiIorio, whether that’s digging deeper into client needs or internal work with teams now remote. Case in point: bMod’s Thirsty Thursday happy hour on Zoom designed to keep lines of collaboration open.

COVID has placed more emphasis on connections, says VP Maria DiIorio, whether that’s digging deeper into client needs or internal work with teams now remote. Case in point: bMod’s Thirsty Thursday happy hour on Zoom designed to keep lines of collaboration open.

In a time when remote work is the new norm, being able to collaborate with brands regardless of where they are in the world creates a market advantage for Canadian agencies like bMod. Says Buck, “I like to say that we’ve been training at altitude here in Canada – because of our strict regulatory environment, we have to be extremely clever. We’ve had to be creative problem solvers to produce effective communications.”

bMod – it says it all in the name. The ultimate goal of this Montreal-based indie is behaviour modification. Partners Eric Frendo, Kathryn Buck and Murray Forrestall have grounded their approach in good info: digging into customer insights and really understanding what's driving customers. That's the only way you change minds, they note.

bMod – it says it all in the name. The ultimate goal of this Montreal-based indie is behaviour modification. Partners Eric Frendo, Kathryn Buck and Murray Forrestall have grounded their approach in digging into customer insights, as that’s the only way you change minds, they note.

The bMod focus distils down to helping organizations evolve to become more customer-centric and dial in the messaging. “If you aren’t meeting a need with your communication, you’re not going to cut through,” says the bMod co-founder. “They have to do the hard work of really digging into customer insights, understanding what’s driving customers, or they’re going to get lost in the clutter. And, this is the way we’ve been talking since we started in 2003.”

bMod stands for behaviour modification Buck explains. “We’ve always taken a behavioural change approach to the work we do, which means we’ve always been in all channels. When you want behaviour change, it’s about meeting your customers where they are.”

CONTACT:
Maria Dilorio
VP Client Services

maria@bmodgroup.com