In this age of rapid technology, marketers have more investment options to consider than ever before. Media advancements and convergence have empowered consumers, and blurred the lines between advertising and content. And thanks to big data, the majority of our marketing efforts can be measured and held accountable not only to front-end marketing objectives, but also against tangible business goals.
This is a good thing. However, an unfortunate side effect of this rapid change is that marketers often tend to lose sight of what should be a key driver of the marketing efforts – the unmet needs of our customers. This is even more imperative in the healthcare category, where engagement is ongoing, life-long, and most often driven by moments of need, versus want.
In healthcare, needs can be utility based — like information, access to care, financial help — or less tangible like empathy, community, or emotional support. For physicians and other health care professionals, most of their needs today revolve around saving precious time. Simplifying and keeping our communications focused, providing new and interesting ways to disseminate information to patients and caregivers, or helping them navigate the transition to Electronic Health Records all could bring true value.
So let’s talk about how we’ve taken our eye of the ball…
As mentioned, big data has driven a new level of accountability, which has naturally brought new focus and rigor around tracking and reporting, ensuring that marketing efforts work toward objectives, even in real-time. However, this has led to more pressure than ever to stick with proven and traditional marketing tactics. The ability to measure everything from cost-per-click to cost-per-script has seemingly hampered the appetite for some newer, innovative, but unproven platforms and tactics that today’s technology brings forth. And even when some of these innovations are sold in, we are often challenged to measure them against metrics they were not meant to achieve.
On the flip side, the new media landscape has also driven an unprecedented level of innovation in marketing. However, many marketers seem to be innovating for innovation’s sake, which is understandable since there are so many “shiny new objects” to chase.
We’ve all attended tactical planning brainstorms - you know the kind…a cross section of marketers spend full days in conference rooms or chain hotel ballrooms, conducting ice-breaker activities and “ideation” sessions, debating which tactics will be critical to achieving brand goals. I’ve seen these sessions turn out recommendations, such as creating a coffee table book for Neurologists, or engaging older, female R.A. sufferers by building a world on Second Life.
So it’s easy to walk away thinking… “Have any of these people existed outside of this conference room?” All of these “big ideas” cost a lot of money, but how will they provide value, motivate or change behavior, or increase the chance of successful outcomes?
There are interesting ideas and platforms that do provide value. But we need to muddle through all of the options and opportunities new technology presents, and continue to challenge ourselves with the question: “Will this meet a need or provide value to the customer?” This should be the lens or litmus test for any idea or investment that is being considered.
Fortunately, staying laser-focused on this does not necessarily need to sap creativity or come at the expense of tracking to KPIs. On the contrary, technology will allow us to engage our customers, and track our efforts in new and innovative ways. Core customer or patient insights will allow us to uncover and address real world needs, provide value, and lead to successful outcomes.
We just need to keep reminding ourselves that these things need not be mutually exclusive.