We talk a lot about what’s gone viral on social media, the best viral marketing campaigns, and lately, the virality of actual viruses too. One thing we don’t talk enough about is the drugs and vaccines we use to treat viral outbreaks. Drugs and vaccines also work as metaphors: they are what we use as businesses to handle the viral outbreaks our clients bring to us to solve for as professionals.
Drugs are treatments for individuals who have come down with the symptoms of a particular bug. Drugs solve specific infections. Vaccines are treatments for a whole population of people to help avoid catching, or at least dramatically lessen the impact of, a specific bug. In short, drugs are for reacting to specific problems at the individual level and vaccines are for protecting against similar problems at the group level.
“I believe everyone could benefit from our services,” said every salesperson ever. Genuine or not, this is the vaccine approach. Get the whole herd immune to the problem. “I know just the thing to fix this,” said every confident professional ever (the good ones and the cranks alike!). Note the differences, and note the advantages of offering both drugs and vaccines in our practices. Drugs for the problems at hand, vaccines for the believers in the greater need.
The products and services we offer that respond to an individual’s specific problems are our drugs. We want to administer and communicate their effectiveness and how we use them to our clients. The educational and awareness offerings we market to broader groups are our vaccines. We want to make sure people are aware of how they work, what they help to avoid, and to know that if something specific ales them we also have drugs to help. When we consciously offer drugs and vaccines, we are communicating how we are both problem solving and preventative.
Viruses aren’t the only thing that can go viral. The problems we professionals solve for in the marketplace are viruses too. Get the drugs and the vaccines ready. Think about how we design them, put them into practice, and communicate about them. When a prospect or client comes to us for a drug, make sure they understand the vaccines we offer as well. Likewise, when they come for the vaccine, remind them of the drugs to help if they get sick.
Most importantly, it’s not just about sales and it’s not just about miracle cures. This is about the treatment of actual problems with evidence-based solutions. There’s power in a cause and there’s real purpose behind making people’s lives better proactively and preventively. If we build our businesses around that, we’re all going to be better off.