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A Discussion with Aimee Amann About the Impacts of COVID-19 On Business

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Aimee Amann

Aimee Amann is a native of Yardley, Pennsylvania, and a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University where she majored in French language and culture, and the Stern School of Business at New York University where she graduated with an MBA degree and finance concentration.  As a marketing executive, Aimee built her career on a foundation of medical sales, and over the course of 25+ years in the pharma industry has held several positions in both US and global marketing.  With Aimee Amann and her professional experience includes leading global commercial development and portfolio strategy across multiple therapeutic categories including immunology and inflammation, dermatology, oncology, rare disease, neurology, cardiovascular-metabolic, and women’s health.  Currently, Aimee is Senior Director, Head of Acne Marketing.  Aimee shares her perspectives on adjusting marketing activities and working remotely to best support customers during COVID-19.  Her website can be found at aimee-amann.com.

How has your industry been impacted regarding COVID-19?

The COVID-19 situation has impacted every business sector and created a sense of social disruption that is unprecedented in our times.  It presents a challenge for all of us to think differently, to adapt, to be resilient, to remain optimistic, and to find a way to lead, whether it is at home or within our business activities.  One of the things that I am personally doing right now is challenging our plans to make sure that what we are putting in front of our customers is relevant to them.

The question that I am asking is:  How can we support doctors and their patients and people living with conditions during this challenging time?  What is important to them?  How can we add value to them?  How can we partner with them so together we can get through this?

The business question has shifted a little bit away from how do we create awareness about our product and the benefit of our product?  And it becomes a little bit more geared towards how can we socially be responsible?  How can we add value to make a difference for people that need support?  That is the way that we have changed things.

Also, the approach to business is different.  Operating activities are different.  People are working from home.  I believe that has resulted in a bit more compassion and a deeper level of insight into our colleagues which is a good thing.  For example, when you are with work colleagues in the office setting, you’re not getting to know them on a personal level as much as you are now, because everybody is somewhat integrating their personal and professional lives.  They might have to watch children while they are working, and you may be able to get to know them a little more holistically as a person.  I think that is a good byproduct of this challenging situation; the opportunity to build deeper connections with colleagues.  You see a lot of articles that have to do with blending and integrating work/life balance instead of trying to segregate them.  The current state is just another demonstration of how that can happen.  In a certain regard, I think it is modernizing what we are doing by having all this remote activity.

What does your typical day look like now versus prior to social isolation?

Like most people, my workday involves a lot of conference calls and video conferencing.  In the era of open offices, it is a nice change to have uninterrupted time in my home office with the additional quiet time that goes with it.  This whole remote work dynamic that’s part of COVID-19 has really solidified the possibility and the productivity of remote working environments.  While working remotely was becoming normalized, there was still a question about it.  I have to say that after the quarantine from COVID-19, I cannot imagine that any modern company would question the ability for employees to be productive from home offices.  We are living it right now.  We are seeing it.

How does working remotely change how businesses can support their customers?

I think that is a question that is still being fleshed out.  There are two dynamics at play.  Let’s just say pre-COVID, if I was a business executive working from home and my customers were seeing patients, like physicians seeing patients in an office, I don’t believe what I would be able to offer them would be much different with me working from home and them seeing patients.

However, it seems that physicians and healthcare practitioners are being so impacted by the quarantine and social distancing that some offices are closing, many offices are practicing telemedicine, and it changes how we need to interact with and support them.

It is not so much about us being remote as much as the impact that COVID has had on healthcare practitioners in the way they do business. The question to address is how we can best support healthcare practitioners as the situation unfolds and things evolve.

How do you and your team stay in constant communication during this time?

We pretty much operate with business as usual in terms of remaining accessible via text, phone, email, and through meetings.

What you miss when you are working remotely, however, is more of the personal interaction that comes with connecting in an office.  While video conferencing can feel a bit more informal, it can also seem a bit colder with technology as the mediator.  It is important to maintain that warmth that you would naturally or organically have when meeting someone in person.

Is flexing and pivoting your marketing plan important to best support customers?

Yes, it is critical to flex and pivot your marketing plan to best support customers.  Approaching marketing as business as usual during this time, not only runs the risk of being less impactful but also, communicates the wrong message.  If you are not flexing and adjusting, it is likely to come across as if you are not self-aware, you are not in touch, or not as caring about what people are going through.  I think it is critical to take a step back and look at how you are doing business and tailor it to match the times, to make sure that not only are you communicating about your product and your product offerings clinically or otherwise, but you are also talking about opening up lines for two-way communication to find out what your customers need for support, how they are doing, how they are feeling, and how you can partner to support them in new and different ways that you may not have done in the past.

How can businesses continue to market themselves during COVID-19?

There are certain companies that have already started to promote their passion for coming up with a vaccine, helping to find a cure, helping to support testing.  You see that certain companies have promoted that they have lowered their prices.  Certain companies have promoted the fact they are donating their product or making donations or joining in the fight.  Societally, I do think that it is a lost opportunity if you are not finding a way as a company to join in the fight, either by donating products, supporting doctors, or driving innovation.

What are some of the lessons you have already learned from having to work remotely and tips you can give to the readers? 

One of the lessons that I have learned from having to work remotely is to build a schedule.  It is important when you are working from home to make sure that you are carrying forward the good habits you practice when working in an office while working remotely.  We still need to get the work done and that still offers us a sense of pride and accomplishment, both of which are ever so critical during these unprecedented times.

There is also a tendency to start working earlier when you work remotely.  Having uninterrupted time can be very productive, but it is also easy to lose track of time and then work late.  There is always going to be work that must be done and often without the natural conclusion of the business day, people leaving, or commuting home, your work can go well past your intended time.  Being mindful of building a schedule that enables you to get things done that you need to get done, but also to take breaks, stretch your legs, and maybe go outside for five minutes can increase productivity in a remote work environment.

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