Archive for September, 2010

From Ps to Rs; a shift in consumer expectation

September 23, 2010

As I continue dissecting my notes from the SHSMD conference in Chicago, building from my thoughts on the theme as well as the overview of its content, I’ve realized that my reporting on the marketing evolution is of little benefit – it’s done. Now what?

The only way to successfully adapt to this new environment is by transforming your communications strategy.

While speaking at SHSMD, Phyllis Marino of MetroHealth in Cleveland, Ohio, stated the 4Ps of marketing are obsolete. The new consumer is no longer interested in your mix of Product, Price, Promotion or Place because they now demand a more personalized approach.

With this expectation shift, the 5Rs are the new principles for ensuring the strategic focus of your marketing efforts is modified to appeal to this highly consumer-centric environment.

Recognition. Only with a clear, compelling identity and message will your audience differentiate you from the competition. You need to define what your name stands for and be able to connect with your audience in a more meaningful way.

Relevance. Your audience wants to readily see the link between what your company offers and how it fills their needs; be it accomplishing a task, solving a problem, education or entertainment.

Response.  It’s a dialogue – not a monologue. Therefore, you need to also listen to the consumer and be able to quickly respond to their informational needs.

Receptivity. What they want when they want it, not when you want to deliver it to them. The consumer has his own schedule and doesn’t want to adapt to yours. This is the reason why the internet is now the CENTER of the consumer universe.

Relationships. It’s no longer about connecting the dots; it’s connecting people. If you want to establish a lifetime commitment, you need to think what will keep your audience engaged for the long-term. Till death do you part.

It may be old-fashioned and fallacious of me, but when constructing a communications strategy based on the 5Rs, I find it easier to tackle them like I would the 5Ws of Journalism: Who (Recognition), What (Relevance), When (Response), Where (Receptivity), Why (Relationships).

The trick always comes with identifying the H.

How have you shifted the structure of your communications strategy?

Breaking the Piñata: When is too much information, too much?

September 16, 2010

Four days, 6 general sessions, 70 break-out workshops, 119 exhibitors, dozens of exchanges during breaks and luncheons with fellow attendees and the SHSMD 2010 conference is complete.

Rich with content and excited to share these pretty, shiny nuggets of knowledge with you, I’m struggling to find a starting point.

It’s almost like cracking open a piñata and not being certain of the direction in which I should scamper. Which goodies do I want to hoard for myself? Which ones do I want to share with others? Which ones do I find fascinating and you may find irrelevant?

I could craft a summary of the SHSMD conference and provide an overview of all the tidbits I’ve gathered, but the final product would be more like a dissertation rather than a blog entry.

Bursting at the seams, I feel like Adam in Paradise Lost when Raphael warned:

 “But Knowledge is as food, and needs no less

Her Temperance over Appetite, to know

In measure what the mind may well contain,

Oppresses else with Surfeit, and soon turns

Wisdom to Folly, as Nourishment to Wind.”

 Now that consumers have developed an excessive craving for conversation, education and details, what makes for a successful online interaction?

Just like biting into a juicy apple, you want to give your consumer digestible bits of information.

As marketers, we need to get out of broadcast mode where we craft our talking points, add some nice graphics or even a video, and post content to the web as another means of pushing out our messages. As The Cluetrain Manifesto laments, we’re still treating the online market as “eyeballs” rather than as people engaged in conversation.

Similar to chatting it up with a fellow attendee at a conference, you need to have a genuine delivery that leads to a positive exchange of ideas and dialogue. Not too much information where you overwhelm the other person and turn them off. Rather, the right balance of content that leaves them satisfied – and wanting seconds.

I can keep serving up my sampling of the conference, but what are you craving? Click brochure to get an overview of the SHSMD 2010 conference. Then, send me a note at kcionek@adamsgroup.com and tell me what topic you would like discussed next.

Creative Marathon Benefits Local Non-Profits

September 15, 2010

Tomorrow I will participate in CreateAthon, an all-night, all-out collaboration to create marketing materials for local non-profits who could otherwise not afford them. Even though I am a CreateAthon veteran, I am excited and terrified.

Founded in 1997 by Riggs Partners, CreateAthon is a good idea that’s going national. This year more than 20 ad agencies (many with the help of volunteers) will work day and night September 16-17 to create for deserving non-profits across the country. (Learn more here, here and here.)

One of the special things about CreateAthon is that we meet so many amazing people. People who selflessly give untold hours of their time so others have a warm meal, a fresh start, or simply just hope for a better tomorrow. We get to spiff up their fundraising materials, give them a new logo more reflective of what they do and sometimes we are lucky enough to deliver way more than they ever hoped for.

The most surprising thing about CreateAthon is how inspiring it is for us participants. You spend much of Thursday and the wee hours of Friday scared. Scared you’ll never be able to get it all done. So mentally and physically exhausted. So sick from eating too many of Tom’s wife’s cookies. And then after the sun rises Friday, the awesomeness of it all blindsides you. Often, it’s moments before your first presentation.

One night of your life is nothing when compared to all these non-profits give day after day, year after year. To have the opportunity to create for them is humbling enough. But you get to present your creations to them, too. And their gratitude is evident in presentation after presentation. A big bear hug after the first idea is revealed. Tears, tears and more tears when you show them the beautiful website they sorely needed but couldn’t bear to ask for. The shrieks and shouts of delight warm the parts of your heart that don’t get to see much sunlight.

So while you think the best thing about CreateAthon is helping local non-profits, it turns out your spirit and creativity get a lift as well. The beauty of CreateAthon is that in doing good for others, you do a world of good for yourself, too.

SHSMD 2010 Conference: Healthcare on the Winds of Change

September 14, 2010

Karolynn Cionek reports from the SHSMD  trenches:

One could easily assume the theme of the annual AHA conference in Chicago was selected to address the changing role of the healthcare industry as it relates to the impending Health Reform.

However, as I delved into workshops and chatted with fellow attendees, it quickly became apparent that the underlying current was addressing change as it relates to the communications landscape.

After decades of media stasis, the online arena has fundamentally changed how we communicate with our consumers.  

Traditional, offline strategies relied heavily on interruption and coercion to push information out to the masses. Now, consumers are expecting marketers to pull rather than push by delivering useful content at the precise moment they need it.

A 2009 Pew survey reported 61 percent of American adults look online for health information. Thomas McCormally of Cincinnati Children’s, led the Storytelling and Multi-media workshop to further explain that, of those online, 59 percent have done at least one of the following activities:

  • Read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website, or blog
  • Consulted rankings or reviews online of doctors or other providers
  • Consulted rankings or reviews online of hospitals or other medical facilities
  • Signed up to receive updates about health or medical issues
  • Listened to a podcast about health or medical issues

The Web has become a trusted source for people trying to make a decision or solve a problem – particularly when it comes to healthcare.

That last sentence is key to understanding what exactly changed in the communications landscape: trust. Disruption is being replaced by engagement, persuasion by influence of trusted sources.  

With millions of one-way, seller-spun advertisements bombarding us on a daily basis, even in healthcare, we eventually became numb to the noise. We quickly tired of being sold, turned off and stopped trusting advertising.

With advancements in online technology, marketers have a new opportunity to connect to consumers. Rather than drilling down messages into the lowest-common denominator, you can now interact, inform, educate and provide details that were lacking in the broad reaching techniques of yesterday.

While traditional offline outlets remain vital aspects of an overall marketing campaign, the change comes in acknowledging the new consumer wants more substance. They expect a dialogue.

 As a marketer how are you adapting to this new environment?

Nike+ Unleashes a Data-driven Revolution

September 10, 2010

I think anyone who actually admits to enjoying running can legitimately call themselves a runner. A few years ago, I would have never called myself a runner. An iPod and Nike+ changed that.

Nike+ is a sensor system created by Nike and Apple that works with an iPod and the Nike+ website to track a runner’s data – distance, pace, caloric burn and more – over time. According to this 2009 Wired article, Nike, through Nike+, has gathered the largest community of runners ever assembled — more than 1.2 million runners who have collectively tracked more than 130 million miles and burned more than 13 billion calories. And those are last year’s numbers.

Amassing loads of data has uncovered interesting running stats. Like that people in the US run more often in winter than those in Europe and Africa. More often, but for shorter distances. That the average duration of a run worldwide is 35 minutes. The most popular day to run? Sunday. Even the songs we most often choose for extra amps of power.

You can track your data on the website, and even broadcast run stats on Twitter and Facebook. And why on Earth would anyone want to do that? The article explains something called the Hawthorne Effect. The theory that people change their behavior — often for the better — when they are being observed. An effect you can see in real-time on millions of Facebook statuses each day.

Did Nike and Apple create Nike+ to sell more stuff? Of course. But they have not rested on their leading-edge laurels. The products have evolved and the product line has grown. The irritating shoe sensor is now history thanks to a new GPS-utilizing software app that launched this week.

In a few short years, Nike has done more than sell more pairs of shoes. They have created a worldwide community of millions that are engaged and excited about running. A strategy that will surely pay dividends in the long run.


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