Breaking Stereotypes

“If you are boring, you work in auditing, and if you are boring and work at an agency, you work in media.” This was a quote I heard in a client meeting last week. Beyond annoying me, this statement triggered me to think about the role of media in healthcare marketing today. 

Until a few years ago, media was the final thought on the communications food chain. Agencies spent months, or in the case of healthcare agencies years, developing a TV spot, getting it approved by med legal, then by DDMAC, well, now OPDP. Finally, in the 11th hour the account director would walk into the basement to ask the media guy where to place it. The media team would push a button and produce a lovely flow chart filled with numbers and colored bar charts, similar to a periodic table, never to be seen again, until post-buy to talk about make goods. 

The notion of starting with what we want to tell consumers, then figuring out where to run the spot, is not only “boring” but an archaic concept. Long gone are the days that a marketer assumes that everyone is watching prime time television at prime time. Or to assume that a one-size-fits-all message will appeal to everyone in your target audience. To be successful in today’s world of healthcare marketing, we need to begin to think as contemporarily as the customers we wish to engage with. Yes, not “targets”… you shoot at a target, you engage with someone you wish to service. I challenge you to bring your media team up from the basement and take a media-first approach to developing your marketing plans.

  1. Understand how your customer engages with media. How and when do they utilize certain vehicles? For example, for years we were under the assumption that potential patients used mobile for healthcare only at point of care or at the pharmacy. So, what did we do? We bombarded their smartphones with digital coupons for Rx products and questions to ask their doctor. Recent studies show that the number one place for mobile usage for healthcare information is in the home. It is time to rethink the messages that are deployed via mobile devices and how they should differ from in-line campaign calls to action in print or on television.
  2. Realize that even with chronic diseases, the disease is only a sliver of a person’s life, it does not define who they are. Stop purchasing every “insert disease here”…resource center on every endemic health site on the internet. Get to know your customer. Identify what really defines them as a person: are they a mother, a teacher, a sister, a book collector, a weekend cyclist, or all the above? How can you engage with this person in areas outside of their disease? Flip the current publishing model and broker new deals where you co-create content that appeals from a lifestyle perspective and creates a unique intersection for the brand to provide a new service beyond the pill or treatment.
  3. Re-integrate media and creative. If you do not do this, you are simply not thinking in a contemporary fashion and will not be successful. Every creative concept or media partnership should show how the experience would differ based on what type of media vehicle the customer is engaging with. When you launch your “integrated” it should look like unique experiences rather than matching luggage.



So to the guy who said, “If you are boring and work at an agency, you work in media”…. maybe you are just working at the wrong agency.

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