As marketers, we often litter the pavement with buzzwords in an attempt to convince our clients that we have ‘innovative’ ideas that will ‘connect,’ ‘motivate’ and ‘convert.’ Our days (and often, nights) are spent observing, interpreting, analyzing, listening and interacting to arrive at that one great core message, delivered at precisely the right time in precisely the right way to address how consumers engage.
With the assets and behavioral insight available to us, not to mention the talent roaming the hallways of countless marketing agencies out there, more often than not, we get it right. After all, we are recognized as idea people hired for our abilities to be as plugged in to what’s going on as just about anyone on earth.
How is it then that we’re being outsmarted at our own game?
When I started writing this post I didn’t think I had the answer and I was actually going to take this in a different direction (hey, it’s an on-the-fly business), but I just re-read a previous paragraph and a light bulb went off about an issue:
We’re recognized as idea people hired for our abilities to be as plugged in to what’s going on.
We’re doing too much looking back for our answers, putting communication and engagement plans together based on what’s been done, making use of what’s out there already. Of course, leveraging best practices and making adjustments based on measured results is essential to brand adherence, as is delivering a message to places where our targets congregate. But it doesn’t mean we should restrict ourselves, or avoid improving upon what exists if it means a better solution for our clients.
We shouldn’t be on the trail. We should be blazing the trail.
Knowing what we know, and trying to solve the problems on our plate, it should have been a digital agency that created Facebook. Twitter should have been the brainchild of a time-starved Madison Avenue planner. LinkedIn should have come from an account guy thumbing through his rolodex. Hell, Apple has become one of the biggest companies in the world by addressing needs people didn’t even know they had until the brand thought about an existing consumer experience in new ways. Forget insight, we need more foresight.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying every presentation to a client needs to unveil an invention of some sort, but agencies have to bring value by not only using what’s out there but by creating what’s out there. If at the end of a meeting a client doesn’t say, ‘I never thought of it that way’ about something brought to the table, we’re not doing our jobs. I would have loved to seen the look on the client’s face when this was presented. (Those of you that have done monotonous annual reports just kicked yourself, didn’t you?).
In pharma (and Consumer Relationship Marketing in general) we are often accused of being a few steps behind marketers of more traditional goods and services, but at MicroMass, I prefer to think of it as being several leaps ahead. Having been on both sides, we’re fortunate with what we do because there’s such a blank slate, and very little precedent. Sure there’s all kind of red tape stuck to that slate, but there’s truly an opportunity for us to use our brainpower in ways that literally have never been done before, and achieve results previously unthinkable. It’s ours for the taking. That’s why we approach every brief, plan and assignment from the perspective each problem not only demands a unique solution, but requires one. It’s certainly not revolutionary to say, but it sure is to practice.
I guess you can say our goal is to be recognized as idea people hired for our abilities to be as plugged in to what’s possible. Imagine that.(Read full post)
It’s been three months since Steve Jobs told us that our world was about to change. And despite the 150,000 apps and staggering sales figures, we’re still scratching our heads, wondering what the world was actually given.
I believe Apple has quite possibly designed the perfect empty vessel.
Don’t get me wrong. Judging by everything I’ve read, and from the brief contact I’ve had with the iPad in stores, there’s a lot of functionality inside. By that’s just the device. That’s hardware. Apple has left plenty of room for us to fill in the rest.
For me, the iPad is like a great logo design. When we first see it, it’s really just a promise. Something that has inherent meaning – especially for those of us who know Apple. But something that symbolizes so much more. Paul Rand has a great quote somewhere in which he says that a good logo has “the pleasure of recognition and the promise of meaning.”
Okay, here’s the catch. We’re all going to have to wait to understand what iPad means to each of us.
But not long. Just long enough for the rest of us to understand that this is no longer the future. The iPad is in the present with us. And this time, the beneficiary of Apple’s genius is information. Content. And all the peddlers and practitioners that work to deliver it.
See that seemingly endless stream of publishers, software developers, bankers, entertainers, gamers, advertisers, teachers, scientists, and couch potatoes? They’re all ready to show us what Apple intended this empty vessel to hold.
Some say the iPad will resurrect the publishing industry. (Wasn’t that Kindle or Nook?)Why stop there. What about other industries that need a little help? Healthcare. Finance. Education. Marketing.
Why would the iPad be a significant change for marketers? It creates a significant new channel for sharing content with consumers. It also starts to shape a new creative medium that can become part of a communications strategy. A multimedia tool like this may encourage more reading – appeal to a variety of learning styles – and ultimately have a measurable impact in health education and literacy.
But we’ve had digital readers for a few years now. And journalists are becoming better storytellers again, using multimedia to deliver a more adaptive and engaging experience. So what makes this transformation different?
For agencies like ours, the iPad is more than an empty vessel. It’s a blank canvas to create custom campaigns tailored for the platform or designed to extend any existing digital marketing efforts. Today, the iPad is so new that nobody really understands what marketing opportunities really look like. In a way, we’re learning along with our clients. But that’s not keeping many major brands from signing up to be inaugural sponsors of breakout iPad downloads and prototype advertising campaigns.
The iPad has many champions. And a skeptic here and there. Some even doubt its originality, citing Tom Hanks as having the idea in the 1988 movie, Big. Here’s how the 13-year-old Hanks as Josh Baskin described it.
“There’s this flat screen inside with pictures on it and you read it. And when you get down to the bottom you have to make a choice of what the character’s going to do… Like if he is going to go in and fight the dragon then you have to push one of the buttons. … See, there’s a computer chip inside which stores the choices, so when you reach the end of the page, you decide where the story goes. That’s the point.”
If you remember the movie, the comment immediately following Hanks’ presentation from a rival executive in the toy company was simple. “I don’t get it.”
And maybe that’s all the world is saying right now about the iPad.
We don’t get it–at least not yet.(Read full post)
So, I’ll out myself. Even though I work in an industry that is gung ho over social media, I have not fully embraced social media. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and use it ALOT, but just more as a tool. To get a quick read on something, research a topic or a product, I’ve even been sucked into a few people’s blogs that I visit regularly, and of course now I am actually posting content.
I’m not one for tweeting what I had for breakfast and althoughI have a facebook page, I update it about as often as I go to church (sorry mom) and I save my political, ethical and what’s wrong with the world rantings for those who have the good fortune of hearing them in person.
But that’s just me, it’s clear the world uses social media for different reasons. Don’t we?
With all the press, online discussions, and articles about the phenomenon of social media I’m surprised no one talks about what motivates consumers to use social media…the WHY people use social media. There’s tons of WHAT people are doing, like Forrester’s social media ladder or WHERE consumers are. There is a wealth of information on the demographics of consumers who are engaging in social media or who uses MySpace verses Facebook . But nothing on what inspires people to post or read or blog or tweet and keep them coming back for more.
If marketers and brands really want to utilize social media to reach consumers and drive interaction with their brands shouldn’t we first understand what consumers really want and need from the brand and social media. What do they get out of social media?
As Harvard Business School professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski explains “To be successful, you need to shift your mindset from social media to social strategy.” Understanding the different motivations, what emotionally drives your audience(s), for using social media is the first step to building a great social media strategy. Plus, assuming everyone is motivated by the same thing can be a big mistake.(Read full post)
There can be a tendency within the pharmaceutical industry—although I’m not pointing fingers—to sacrifice emotion and authenticity in communications for the sake of “playing it safe.” But, particularly in patient-facing communications, we must keep in mind that patients’ illnesses—whatever they might be—are indeed emotional issues for them. And for their families, friends and all of the others who care about them. So, in order for companies and their brands to authentically connect with patients, it’s essential—not optional—to find a way to tap into the emotions they’re feeling. Acknowledging them. Honoring them. And addressing them. All the while staying out of trouble with the folks up in the legal department.
For the purpose of today’s post—and to keep this from becoming a dissertation—let’s focus on how we communicate with patients through Web sites. At the SXSW Interactive conference last month, I was reminded (thanks to Kristina Halvorson, CEO and founder of Brain Traffic) that our arsenal for creating powerful Web site user experiences is larger and more powerful than ever. Among the tools we have for building compelling online content are:
And, within the subsets of these groups of tools are even MORE tools—like data visualization, metadata, user comments, error messages (yes—they, too, are part of the user experience and should be given careful thought), forms, links, search results, and a whole host of others.
Any and all of these tools, when used correctly and implemented with strategic consideration regarding their core purpose, can be used to create a genuine interactive experience with patients. And, notice I said “interactive.” A Web experience should never be static. The more back and forth there is between your brand and the user via the Web site—the more probable it is that a very real and lasting connection is being made.
In my opinion, Lilly is one of the pharmaceutical companies out there doing a really nice job of simultaneously recognizing and addressing both the informational and emotional needs of its audience. In the Diabetes TouchPoints section of LilyDiabetes.com, users are greeted by a video of Virginia Valentine. Not only is she a Certified Diabetes Educator, but she also has the disease herself. So, between that and the fact that she’s a natural on camera, the emotional connection with site users is immediate. And that’s the way it should work. Plus, she delivers relevant information in a very warm, conversational style that makes it feel like you’re sitting across from her in your living room.
Other features of Lilly’s site include an area for users to rate which content they find most useful, a Virtual Kitchen in which Chef Robert Lewis walks site visitors step-by-step through diabetes-healthy recipes and relevant downloadable educational materials for adult and pediatric patients, as well as for their caregivers. It’s evident that the entire Web-based experience was given careful and very deliberate consideration and that—at all times—the needs of the patient drove that process.
We have a lot of new Web-based technologies at our fingertips to enhance the age-old process of storytelling. A process that in and of itself has connected human beings for all time. While it can be a bit nerve-wracking for those whose role it is to keep us out of legal quagmires, there are ways to use these technologies that satisfy the needs and interests of everyone involved. We just have to have the creativity, commitment and patient-centered focus to implement them in ways that bring emotion and warmth back into what is all too often a very cold and sterile experience.(Read full post)
If you happen to be visiting Austin for this year’s annual South by Southwest conference, keep your eyes open for one of our team. We’ll be wearing badges labeled “Worldwide Partners/MicroMass Communications, Inc.,” and attending the Interactive show dates from March 12th through the 16th.
We look forward to meeting some of you there. And if you’re an iPhone owner who went last year, you can rest assured knowing that AT&T has figured things out this time.(Read full post)