Posts Tagged ‘marketing communications’

Forget Strategy?

July 24, 2012

Recently, Advertising Age quoted the CEO of the global advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, as saying, “Strategy is dead… If you take the time to devise a strategy, the more time you are giving your rivals to start eating your lunch.”

Is he serious?  I fully realize we now live in a very fast-paced world and hesitation can be costly, but forget the strategy?  How do you get the tactics right without a strategy?  The fact is good strategic planning leads to better execution.

We’ve also found that the tighter the strategy, the better the creative product.  It certainly makes it easier to create good ideas.  With even a loose strategy, creativity becomes far more difficult.  With no strategy, it’s almost impossible.  

Lack of strategy usually leads to poor management of resources as well.  Tactics do not replace strategy; they follow it.  Today’s new media enables carefully targeted rifle shots.  Why would you want to use a shotgun?

“L” Stands for loser.

February 10, 2012

Another Super Bowl is in the books. Over hyped? Yes! Bad halftime show? Yes! But the game was great and Super Bowl Sunday has become a holiday so why not enjoy.

Now it’s time to prepare for next season. The NFL players are resting, getting needed surgery and getting prepared for mini camps. Just like the players, the NFL is already working on future Super Bowls. And that’s a good thing because the NFL has a little problem with Super Bowl 50. Ever since the first Super Bowl, the league has numbered them using Roman numerals. That would make Super Bowl 50, Super Bowl “L”. “L” stands for loser. This creates a heck of a problem to solve. The league has managed it’s way through and around  Super Bowl IV in 1970 and Super Bowl XXX in 1996. But having a giant “L” with a sponsor’s logo like, say, Nike’s swoosh right above it could be a little awkward. Not to mention being awkward for the host city.

SO. Just like players trying to get stronger and faster, a crack team of designers and sharp thinkers are squirreled away trying to solve this big problem for a big client. Maybe they will take this opportunity to convert the Super Bowl to Arabic numerals. After all 50 is a huge mile stone. They didn’t think there would be ten Super Bowls let alone fifty. Maybe they’ll have the “L” stand for something other than “Loser” or find a way to hide it in the design. Who knows. But what a fun challenge that would be.

I have a lot of great ideas. I’ll just sit back a wait for the NFL to call.

Three births, three patient experiences.

March 29, 2011

My wife and I are the proud parents of three boys. I know, wow, three boys. Trust me, it’s a blast and we were blessed with three relatively smooth deliveries. Interestingly enough, each boy was delivered at a different hospital and each experience was very different.

The experience we had with the birth of our first son wasn’t what we expected. Your first child is never what you expect, but I’m talking about the patient experience. The hospital was cold and clinical, it was the area’s teaching hospital dedicated to “academic medicine.” My wife felt like a science experiment. The saving grace was a nurse working in the nursery at night; we’ll call her KT. She really loved babies and she loved her job. She made us feel like we had our own nurse caring just for us. We still remember her and I think my wife would include her in our will if she could find her.

Because of our first patient experience, we chose to deliver our second son at the local “boutique” hospital. It was like checking into a hotel to have a baby. It was quiet and comfortable, but we didn’t experience any hospital staff with the same passion of KT. We were treated fine and the delivery went well, but we didn’t leave feeling like we had been given care that was unforgettable.

Maybe I’m being too picky. I often think it’s unfair to expect everyone at a hospital treating my wife and me to exhibit the same kind of passion and zeal as KT’s. Or is it?

Recently my wife and I were blessed with the birth of our third son. We didn’t know what to expect. Our third son was delivered in a different city than his older brothers. My wife’s OB chose the hospital.

From the time we checked in to the time we left, we were reminded of KT because the entire staff worked with her passion and zeal. One nurse came to our room to check my son’s hearing. He started coughing and the nurse picked him up and cleared his throat. This is not uncommon but she did this gladly even though it wasn’t life threatening and not her job. Another nurse came by after her shift just to check on my wife before she left the hospital. It didn’t matter that another nurse was already on duty. Another nurse moved heaven and earth to get me a roll-away bed. I didn’t ask for a bed, all I did was make a joke about the couch being uncomfortable.

Not only are these doctors, nurses and staff members good at what they do, they love what they do and it shows.

I’m a Creative Director in the healthcare/hospital marketing field. One of the coolest things I get to do is witness the work of doctors, nurses and staff who really love what they do. When you talk with them their passion shines through. They believe in what they do and they love it.

As a “creative”, I’m always looking for new and different ways to communicate a client’s competitive advantage. I love what I do. We can saturate the market with a campaign message and light up the web with interactive and social media content. But the most powerful communications tool can be one doctor, nurse or staff member doing their job with a passion that makes them unforgettable to their patients. That’s a real competitive advantage.

While the recent great patient experience is still fresh in our minds, I know we will always remember this hospital stay with a smile. The same way we remember KT.

THE LOGO EVOLUTION; an optimistic revolution

January 18, 2011

A logo update often speaks of a company trying to stay up-to-date in its offerings while strengthening its’ connection with consumers. But, with Starbucks falling into the bucket of recent logo evolutions within the last few months, I was forced to put down my Venti, Non-fat, Carmel Macchiato and ponder – could it mean something more? Could we be on the cusp of a branding revolution?

Every New Year begins with the hope for better things to come. Resolutions are made to convince ourselves that we can try harder and be more than we were the year prior. Every January, we are motivated to turn over a new leaf, conceive and commit to a better version of ourselves, and to accomplish big things. 

Essentially, a rebranding.

I believe the growing appetite for brand evolutions may possibly be an effort by these companies to demonstrate a new promise for the future – even in spite of familiarity feeling more sensible to their consumers.

Perhaps after being smacked around by the impact of the recession – and still jostling from the residuals – we are all eager for a more optimistic perspective.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, twice as many Americans think the U.S. economy will be better rather than worse in 2011.

2011 Expectation (vs. 2010) In Terms of the Economy (Percent of Group)
  Expectation % of Group
Group Better Same Worse
National adults 52% 21 25
   East 55 24 21
   Midwest 56 25 18
   South 51 20 27
   West 48 17 32
$75K or more 55 23 22
$30K to $75K 52 21 25
Less than $30K 51 20 27
Republicans 46 23 31
Independents 50 23 26
Democrats 62 19 16
Source: Gallup, December 2010

Recent tracking results show that consumers only became increasingly optimistic about the economy as 2010 came to an end.

Gallup analysts suggest this could be due to our general optimistic nature as Americans, or it could possibly reflect views of a recovering economy.  

Or it could simply mean that we are all ready to move forward.

And, honestly, was it the attempt these organizations made to put forth a new image that has been debated? Or the lack of creativity, planning and strategic foresight that has forced us to question the success of these new brand transformations?

As Paul Rand said, “Good design is Good for Business.”

And bad design will get you posted on every blog and Facebook page known to man!

 

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.

How hot dogs made us socially acceptable.

August 20, 2010

With a growl in our stomachs, we went in search of the city’s best hot dog. Little did we know what we’d find were the makings of a social media success story.

It all started with a friendly argument. As we wrestled over what makes the perfect hot dog and where one can find such an exalted treasure, we decided there was only one way to settle the matter. We’d put our city’s hot dog vendors to the test.

In true Adams Group fashion, we soon had a name for our little venture, a logo, a scoring system and parameters to guide us on our quest for the preeminent pup.

So, we set out to our first hot dog hawker, ate way too much, took a bunch of pictures, tabulated the scores and posted everything to our Facebook page. The Dog Fight was born, and it was fun.

Every week we ventured into dives and delis, gas stations and gourmet restaurants, in search of perfection. Every now and again, someone would comment on a Facebook photo, or recommend their favorite source of such succulent sustenance. But overall, things were quiet on the Facebook front. Until, one week, we took a frankfurter furlough.

The minute we failed to post our regular update, people began asking questions. What happened? Where are you? Our adventures were being followed on a grand scale – we just didn’t know.

Within weeks, we were at the center of a foodie frenzy. Other companies’ employees challenged us to Dog Fights, we hosted “celebrity” guests, and our own dog fighters were recognized around town (and heavily questioned about where to grab a good dog).

We even got the attention of traditional media, which exposed our Friday lunch activities to tens of thousands. Dog Fight had taken on a life of its own – a life that is thriving today.

Why tell this tasty tale? Because it taught us a lot about achieving social media success:

First – Have fun. Share something that interests you and, chances are, it will interest others as well.

Second – In these cases, traditional metrics may not be giving you the full story. You probably have more followers than you think.

Third – This is not a push marketing medium. Invite people into your experience, and share with them.

Fourth – Be honest, open and transparent. If you are, the medium will reward you.

 Finally, if you know of a great hot dog place in South Carolina, let us know.

Transcendent Marketing is in Bloom

June 4, 2010

Have you heard about the steak-scent-spilling billboard our grocery-chain neighbors to the north, Bloom, have posted? Chances are that you have.

After all, it was on the front page of our local Columbia newspaper yesterday even though we’re 90 miles from Charlotte. This morning it was featured on NPR. It’s on the Huffington Post, ABC News, Chicago Tribune, Twitter, Facebook – it’s everywhere. (Google “Steak scented billboard and you get 22,300 results.)

That’s what makes it such a great board.

Bloom’s daring creative transcended outdoor’s traditional drive-by audience and generated hundreds of thousands of impressions in other media. And did I mention that all of those impressions were free?

That’s what great creative does. It breaks the bounds of its media space to become infinitely more valuable to the advertiser.

Will I ever smell the pepper and charcoal fragrance it emits? Probably not.

But, it’s reached me – and hundreds of thousands of other people who will never see the board – dozens of times. And for the first time in years, it has me thinking about, and talking about, Bloom.

I haven’t had a reason to talk about them since, well, that muffin billboard they did a couple years back…

Georgia’s on My Mind for Healthcare Marketing, Then I’m Going to Carolina…

April 20, 2010

Two excellent regional healthcare marketing events are on tap next week: the Georgia and Carolinas healthcare marketing society conferences.

Georgia’s annual meeting is held each year in Greensboro, Ga., on Lake Oconee at the Ritz Carlton.  This year’s GSHMPR sessions May 5-7 include:

  • Marketing to Men
  • Preparing your Website for Mobile Users
  • The Role of Social Media in Healthcare
  • Selling Social Media to Administration
  • A Case Study in Multi-Media Marketing
  • 2010 Target Awards

The Carolinas Healthcare Marketing & PR Society (CHPRMS) spring meeting is May 7 in Concord, N.C., at Great Wolf Lodge.  Topics for the day conference:

  • Building and Marketing a Better Brand for your Company and You
  • Thinking Outside the Den – Marketing to One Customer at a Time
  • Earning Customers’ Respect and Loyalty with Social Marketing
  • In-hospital Retail Marketing
  • Hands-on Healthcare Marketing in Haiti

Hope to see you there and share some great resources for hospital marketing, strategy and branding!  If you can’t make it, follow our live updates on Twitter (hashtags: #gshmpr and #chprms) and check our blog for daily recaps.

A consistent brand message is more important than ever.

April 14, 2010

I read a New York Times article this morning about another way the Internet is changing advertising: by extending the life of traditional television campaigns.

It made me think.

With consumers having access to older commercials via YouTube and similar sites, it’s now more important than ever to maintain a consistent brand message – especially if you’re a mid-sized hospital that may only produce a handful of spots each year.

Since your spots can live on the Internet long after your broadcast schedule expires, they now have the opportunity to carry your messages to audiences well into the future. This can be an incredible asset, enabling you to show growth and development in directions defined by your brand  – but only if every  spot you produce is well grounded in those values.

So it’s time to make sure you know who you are. Are you the high-tech hospital? Are you the leader in personal service, attention and care? What are your core values?

It’s also time to take stock of your current, past and planned marketing initiatives to ensure that they truly reflect your brand. Any departures will be obvious both to you and your consumers.

When all of your creative expounds on your core brand, your commercials will continue to work for you long after they’ve left the local airwaves.


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