A few months ago, I judged the final round in the North American Health Effie Awards. In addition to having a fantastic and fun time debating various entries with my esteemed industry peers on this judging panel, something interesting struck me about the strongest finalists and ultimate Effie winners. These “best of the best,” culled down from hundreds of entries, had a lot in common. What was behind their success was not overly complicated and certainly not brain surgery. It was an excellent reminder that great marketing in the healthcare space today stems from a few basic and simple concepts. Some of these concepts I observed follow, with a few award-winning examples to bring them to life:
1. Effective healthcare marketers address the respective problem their product or service is tackling: head on and in a bold manner. The winners had a “go big or go home” mission and ambition. From smoking cessation to coping with mental illness and MS, dealing with coughing, hair loss or bladder control, they were very straightforward and crystal clear in defining the enemy. This was supported with important and compelling facts about the prevalence of the problem. Then they cut to the chase with their solution to beat the enemy.
2. Effective health care marketers have surprising, deceptively simple creative big ideas. One great example was the FDA Center for Tobacco Products’ teen anti-smoking effort, which dramatically visually portrayed the premature aging of a teen if they kept smoking into their early 20s. Another great example was for stroke awareness from Genentech – “Act F.A.S.T.” This campaign taught people an easily memorable way to recognize the signs of a stroke and take quick action to call 911 with the word F.A.S.T (standing for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time). A final example from Depend and Kimberly-Clark actively destigmatized bladder control by having people wear Depends over their clothing around various outdoor locations, creating a mass display of solidarity and acceptance toward bladder control issues.
3. When it comes to effective healthcare marketing campaigns, money doesn’t always rule. Many of the winning campaigns were not blessed with tremendous media budgets. There was a significant element of scrappiness as many of the ideas were bought to life outside of broadcast. A number of the strongest campaigns broke new space for their category in media selection such as social for pharmaceutical product GILENYA from Novartis for Multiple Sclerosis. A social platform tapped into the passion, frustration, and optimism patients feel toward the disease and gave them a connection with other sufferers and amplified their feelings, as well as the brand as a solution. Another winning effort with a unique media spend hook was for the LifeBeat HIV test which employed a concert stage called KYSS (Know Your Status Stage). They held a concert where the only way to get a ticket was to take the quick, simple test to gain entrance. Those who learned their status saw the show.
4. The most effective healthcare marketing grabs lightning in a bottle and can get results incredibly fast. For the winning campaigns, there was not a long wait time to judge efficacy. Weeks, not months, was the time frame to realize you had something truly special in your hands. And no debate as to success — numbers don’t lie.
So there you have it, the recipe to create superior healthcare marketing. Illuminate the problem head on, simple and brilliant creative big ideas and innovative uses of media can add up to tremendous and fast effectiveness in the marketplace. Not brain surgery … but somehow very hard to do every time out.
Why? That’s my next post …