General Electric has taken the wraps off its latest "Healthymagination" effort: A project it calls a "digital ecosystem" involving a content-rich Web site, a mobile app, and plenty of social networking.
While it might seem like a strange move for a company like GE, which markets its high-tech imaging equipment to doctors and hospital administrators and not to consumers, "it wasn't a hard decision to make," Linda Boff, global director of marketing communications, tells Marketing Daily. "From a digital perspective, the difference between business-to-business and business-to-consumer is starting to vanish, and this supports the broader goals of the 'Healthymagination' effort, which we launched last May: Bringing better health to more people."
The Fairfield, Conn.-based company is dubbing the initiative an "ecosystem," as opposed to a plain old Web site, because "we've really been trying to think of our Web presence not with a campaign mentality, with a start date and an end date, but as an ongoing content strategy. Rather than launch a site with an 'If we build it, they will come' attitude, we wanted to create a digital presence that let us see where the consumer conversations are happening, and follow them there -- whether that happens on Twitter or YouTube. We're looking at this as Mile One of a marathon and hoping to build traction."
The healthymagination.com effort is separate from the heavy wave of GE TV spots, which kicked off during the Winter Olympics, she says.
Part of the challenge, says Ivan Askwith, director of strategy for Big Spaceship, the New York-based agency that developed the site, is the enormous popularity of health-related sites. "There is just so much information out there, and trying to make lifestyle changes can be so overwhelming, that we wanted to find new ways to break it down into small bites. That's why we named the iPhone app -- which offers an easy-to-do tip every day -- Morsel, for example." A "Visualizing Data" tool allows users to create charts as broad or obscure as they like. A few clicks will let you find out how many female ex-smokers between 35 and 44 are also overweight, for example.
And rather than just compete with established content providers, "we wanted to partner with them," he tells Marketing Daily. For instance, the site's "Better Health Conversations," is a partnership with WebMD. The instant messaging-like feature generates health guidelines, as well as a list of questions to ask your doctor at the next visit.
"While many health tools and sites are intended to help 'replace' the need for a doctor and reduce doctors to prescription-writing machines, the 'Better Health Conversation' is designed to help patients appreciate the value of having a doctor, and to prepare them with suggestions that make office visits more productive and positive. We think GE can be a valuable partner to doctors, and help them -- and their patients -- get better results," Askwith says.
"We don't expect consumers to buy MRI machines from GE, but when you take the broader view, helping consumers get healthier helps doctors and hospitals -- GE's core audience."