Posts Tagged ‘marketing strategy’

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.

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?

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.

SCHA Hosts Social Media Workshop for Hospitals

June 24, 2010

SCHA’s one-day social media workshop (tweets at #smrev) will no doubt get the social media wheels whirring at many SC hospitals. The morning sessions featured Reed Smith and Ed Bennett, two social media rocket scientists.

Reed took workshop participants through the social marketing mix advising them to approach social media with a different set of the 4 P’s of marketing. Instead of Product, Place, Price and Promotion, he suggested Policy, Purpose, People and Plan. Reed’s plan for social media?

  1. Listen and monitor. Search for existing communities and content. Identify ongoing conversations and blogs.
  2. Join the conversation. Leave the sales-y mentality behind. Ask questions and participate. Being involved gives you credibility and the opportunity to talk about what you do.
  3. Measure. Look at what’s working and what’s not.

In addition to connecting with external audiences, Reed advised that social media is also a great way to connect with staff and physicians for recruitment and retention. For staff, noting good deeds and awards is magnified on a Facebook wall. Their family will likely see it, as well as the average Facebook user’s 150 “friends.” In employee recruitment, social media can be a welcome alternative to the local chamber website and give a feel for what’s going on at your organization. Having information accessible is to your advantage, too. Your prospects are doing brand research on your organization, too.

Reed advised tying social media efforts to traditional ones:

  • Include social media icons or links in print, digital and broadcast communications.
  • Put links to Facebook pages and blogs on your website and reciprocal links back to Facebook.
  • Even include descriptions of social media vehicles for less social-savvy consumers.

He also discussed user-generated sites such as Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla and YouTube which allow organizations to amend user content by adding special offers and information, contact data, reviews and more.

Reed advised hospitals that it does take time to manage social media but that it can be managed efficiently. Social media can be a valuable tactic in your marketing arsenal.

All that just from the first speaker. Next up was Ed Bennett.

Ed’s presentation was chock full of data on national social media use. His Found in Cache blog includes special widgets displaying hospital social media activity in SC (and NC) hospitals. Ed kicked off his presentation with an interesting tidbit on why social media matters. Google has cruised along as the #1 website for years. Facebook, a relative newcomer to the scene has surpassed Google in website visits. That’s like John’s Hopkins, who has dominated the US News & World Report’s America’s Best Hospitals list for years, suddenly dropping to number two.

Ed, who has been following social media data for years, has noticed a 10% decrease in non-social media web traffic as people spend more time on social media. After all, he said, there are only so many hours in the day. The dissemination of information has undergone a fundamental change. Where we were once provided information through traditional marketing, e-mail campaigns and first generation websites, today we get information from our friends and through social media.

Ed’s social media program goals are basic and effective:

  • To enhance and enable word of mouth.
  • Perform brand and reputation monitoring.
  • Media corrections.
  • Get his hospital “in the room” (be a part of social media).
  • Establish his hospital as a trusted source. Build on the current web program. One of Ed’s stongest suggestions is to be “in the room.”

Being “in the room” is especially critical if something goes wrong or there is a crisis. You can’t get in the room when a crisis happens; you should have been there already. Rather then being on the defensive or unprepared, your community will likely support you if they know and trust you already. More important, they will come to your defense and help you.

Ed suggested that YouTube is a nice, “safe” way to get started on social media. His “secret sauce” for more views? When you upload videos, be sure to utilize the 250-300 word description and to use relevant key words for search. Also, be sure to secure non-profit status when applicable. He also advised that as much as we’d like, we can’t plan for something to go viral, just be ready in case it does. Have the behind-the-scenes story ready and other relevant information in case the content catches.

Ed suggests branding your social media efforts closely to your organization to prevent ambiguity. Ed’s a Twitter guy and likes it for the searchability and amount of raw information. Right now, he says it’s a smaller community but it’s a great place for reputation monitoring and service recovery.  He gives Facebook props for its ability to engage and build communities. As far as how much to tweet or update your status, Ed suggests no more than 2-4 times a day. But that guideline can go out the window if there’s something of quality to share.

Ed showed how they are pushing their Facebook page by embedding good content from their website such as an active Ask the Expert tab. Facebook has helped the hospital find patient stories that started with one unsolicited comment from a reader. The Facebook wall is also a good place for employees to see the impact they make in people’s lives. Even in acknowledging service breakdowns, an apology and acknowledgement can yield positive benefits.

Ed also suggested making a blog a home base for all social media activity. On a blog you have more control. Then you can add Facebook and Twitter, if those a part of your plan. Add Twitter and blog feeds to your website.

Ed offers these insights:

  • Try social media. It’s not that hard or scary
  • Find passionate people to manage the communities.
  • Learn from his mistakes. Start with policy and legal review, then implement. Be sure social media is accessible to employees. If it’s not, start the effort to make it accessible from the workplace. They’re already accessing it from their smart phones. It’s also helpful if you want to be seen as a progressive employer.
  • Last, don’t use the word blog. Call it something else if you can. That term can send up stonewalls on social media efforts.

All that information from the first two speakers. The afternoon sessions featured a discussion on ROI with Ed and Reed, legalities of social media use with Michael Shetterly of Ogletree Deakins Law Firm and a panel Q&A with several hospitals and a physician using social media. A post will follow on the afternoon session.

It was a full day of useful information for those using social media and those pondering the use of social media.

Social Media Listening

June 22, 2010

One of the greatest benefits of social media participation is the opportunity it gives you to listen. Listen to what “fans” are saying about your business and industry. Listen to customers’ (and potential customers’) topics of interest at any given time. Listen to understand what’s working in the market and what isn’t. Listen to what competitors are saying and what’s being said about them.

All you have to do to open your ears is activate an account. This listening phase is a perfect entrance to social media efforts. It’s time to grasp the opportunities and etiquette of social media such as Facebook and Twitter if you’re unfamiliar with them. Time to activate free tools such as Google alerts. Time to develop a social media strategy and processes for resolution before going “live” with your efforts.

Radian 6 has a great eBook on activating a social media effort.

Rather than hitting the ground tweeting, take a few weeks to stretch, warm up and acclimate to new media. This readying phase will likely uncover activists and detractors alike as well as what’s being said about you or your competitors.

That knowledge is a great foundation to build social media efforts upon.

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.

Right Customer, Right Moment, Right Message

March 31, 2010

© 2010 Cooper River Bridge Run

As I froze at the start of the Cooper River Bridge Run last weekend, I found myself theorizing about the value of the hordes of people milling about waiting for the gun.

For starters, anyone who is out before the sun waiting with 40,000 other people in 43 degree, windy weather to run (or walk) six miles across a massive bridge is dedicated.

These people invest money in something they love. $30 or $40 entry fee for the run. $75 for a pair of running shoes. Multiply that by 40,000 and that’s a boatload of cash.

For some companies, the exposure of being an event sponsor or having a sample in the runner’s packet would have very little impact. But taking the right product/message to a finely targeted, engaged audience like the one I was standing in could be a tsunami for some products or companies.

How hard are you trying to reach your best customers? And when you do reach them, is what you have to say or offer going to send them running in another direction?

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