Creating Action for Marketing in 2017

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There are a few sure, big bets coming to marketing in 2017 based on what we’ve seen in the past year.

Dollars are finally starting to shift to where people are.

As we see every demographic decisively spend time away from TV sets and towards Facebook and Snapchat, the marketing dollars will follow.  But not away from TV, which still creates mass awareness like no other media. The shift will come to one of the final years of advertiser-supported print media. Print has continually over-indexed on spending while under-indexing on reaching people.  That trend will end.

Programmatic is problematic.

As marketers face an increasingly fractured landscape of marketing options, they’ve turned to programmatic media buying as a way to gain scale of message while choosing not to make specific choices about where their brand is specifically seen and in what context it appears.  However, in the wake of the election advertisers discovered this strategy had increasingly backfired, and in 2017 more marketers will demand accountability from large-scale programmatic buys — both in terms of understanding if their brand is adding to noise or signal — and if they’re unwittingly supporting political or moral viewpoints that run contrary to brand value.  The problem is that once brands start questioning the foundation of their programmatic buying, it breaks the whole idea of a system designed to drive value through auto-optimizing banners. Call it programmatic, online advertising or banners. Brands that continue to support their own relegation to the margins of the web pages and apps people find valuable will only get what they pay for.

People make decisions based on shared content.

For all the debate surrounding fake news vs. real news, or the fading stars of meerkat and vine, or the idea that the Facebook I see is not anything at all like the Facebook anyone else sees, there is one truth we can hold as self-evident: when someone I like shares content that helps us articulate what’s meaningful to us, I make decisions because of it. The implications from our presidential election are clear: you can be outspent in advertising by billions and emerge victorious on a platform of like-minded people sharing content.

So what comes next for healthcare marketers who look at a 2017 with more fractured choices and less resources than ever?  We can sum it up as being about microhealth, content and community.

Stop assuming that patients want deeply considered solutions.

Too many marketing plans assume that patients take time out to carefully search Google and then consider a wide array of information from across a competitive set before having a discussion with their doctor that includes a specific medication. People simply do not do this. Any penny spent on assumptions of active research or deep education as a marker of behavior is simply misspent.

Patients want to know what to do next.

Patients only want exactly the information that helps them articulate how they feel, what a good health outcome looks like, and what action to take next. If your content doesn’t do that, it doesn’t do anything. People want tangible clear next steps and perspectives from people who have already done it well. Instead of another “Talk to your doctor,” look at the medium — and design for exactly what a person should say to their doctor.  What are three things you should tell your doctor at the next visit?  Help the patient navigate the complexity with content that confronts the challenges they’re facing right nowin a way that simplifies choices and provides practical social strategies.

Unbranded content is the top of your funnel, branded at the bottom.

We’ve helped our clients develop a content mix that unlocks exponential results where it comes to driving healthcare outcomes and more requests for a specific medicine.

At the top of the funnel, where one might think awareness is key, understand that mix as mostly “unbranded” content that helps people connect with each other as described above.  Awareness is the mix of the right content, paid to be put in front of people at the right time, so they can share it with their network.

When someone is comfortable as a part of the community — or has used that content to share something about themselves — they’re ready for that link to a CRM program.  As the CRM program connects them to more information about treatment, they are now ready to understand what a medicine will do to help them get to the better health outcomes they’ve seen before. Now, as they get ready for their doctors visit, they need a depth of knowledge about treatments.

This year, as people skim-read their way to the next action they’re taking – from the telehealth visit, to the pharmacy clinic, to the doctor, and back to their family and friends – they have learned to ignore the many advertising impressions brands are lobbing at them on the margins of their day. They’re focusing on the useful content a friend, family or community member is sharing and taking a next step with it. Which content is your brand producing?

Now that you’ve gotten this far down the post, how about sharing this content with a fellow decision-maker and ask them to develop a clearer path to content that will help patients take the next action to better health?

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