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What a fairy tale can tell us about stakeholder research?

You probably remember the tale of the Sleeping Beauty.  King throws party to celebrate birth of daughter – with unforeseen consequences that last 100 years.

But what’s that got to do with commercialising medicines or sourcing contact lists?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

The king was desperately keen to invite all the right people to his party.  His courtiers.  Foreign dignitaries and the rulers of other lands.  Local councilors and people of influence.  And, of course, the fairies.

That’s where he went wrong.  By excluding the Bad Fairy (Why? Did he forget her or did he not want to have to think about her?) he brought down a curse that put his daughter, and the whole palace, to sleep for 100 years.  Thank goodness for the handsome prince willing to fight his way through the impenetrable hedge.

So easy to do.  So simple to see how he could have behaved differently.  And yet so many companies ignore the moral of this tale.  Which is:

Remember ALL of the people of interest.

Who are your people of interest?  We notice many stakeholder research companies who are fantastic at focusing on the courtiers – all those clinical contacts that your sales, marketing and R&D teams have got to know well over the years.

It’s a short leap to making sure you invite the foreign dignitaries – the other healthcare professionals who have broadcast their interest in your therapy area.  Those local councilors?  Mostly, but not always, they get remembered too – they’re the policy makers and advisory board members, as well as the ones who make the purchasing decisions.

Where’s the magic?

The people who bring the magic touch to your list of people of interest are the fairies.  And so often it’s the fairies, good and bad, who get forgotten by consultancies researching key opinion leaders.

The good fairies will take your sales strategy further and get your marketing messages to the widest possible audiences. Their names?  








None of these appear in the traditional pyramid of influence.  Few of them have hands-on patient experience or purchasing authority.  But all have the power to help your medicine to establish its place in the therapeutic ecosystem.

What about the Bad Fairy?

Sadly, in the world of commercialising medicines, there’s more than one Bad Fairy.  The bad fairies can put your launch campaign to sleep or surround it with a thorny hedge of overwhelming objections. 

They are the naysayers and the negative commentators. They may have strong views about another company’s drug.  They may favour an altogether different form of therapy. They may dislike your company or distrust your methods. 

Ignore them at your peril.

Leave them uninvited and some will work actively against you, while others will be a negative influence on your advocates. Include them in your campaign and you may be able to neutralise them, or convince them of the value of your drug. 

How Thecosystems helps you live happily ever after.

At MMRG, we can help you make sure that even the bad fairies are never forgotten or ignored. We’ve reimagined stakeholder research, and we know how to find all the people of interest for your drug.

Our Thecosystems app lets you see the whole therapeutic ecosystem that your product will inhabit. You get the contact details, specialisms and interconnections of every person of interest, in an easy-to-use online tool, so you can be sure that you’re talking to everyone who matters.

Talk to Peter Joshua to find out how. No magic involved.

About the author

Peter Joshua

Peter’s background is in pharmacy, clinical development and the commercialisation of medicines. For the past nine years he’s steered our business towards the Thecosystems horizon.


Connecting the facts.