Part 5 of 5
Too often today, corporate marketing will look to “specialists” to solve problems. A design firm may be hired for logo development, a website company will be hired for an online presence, television may end up getting station-produced, and the list goes on. The risk with this approach is mainly waste and inconsistency. And too often, messages lack both strategy and integration. As a result, the organization finds itself having spent a lot of money only to end up with misdirected and mediocre communications.
How does this happen? Sometimes the problem is lack of or conflicting strategies. Without a clear, concise and written strategy that applies to all communications, efforts will flounder, be ineffective and could even send conflicting messages. Strategy is essential in developing a competitive position. It will provide a summation of the impression that you’re trying to leave your audience. It also provides good direction but doesn’t demand that you go only one specific executional route.
Working with a written strategy is also an important discipline because it requires the intense study of: product/service benefits, target market needs/wants and competitive positions in order to seek a solid foundation for creating difference. And importantly, it should be looked upon as a long-term document. What do you want your target audience to believe about your product/service after years of advertising?
Integration is important because a planned process will ensure that all brand contacts received by your customers or prospects are relevant and consistent over time. An integrated approach will consider every imaginable way your organization will interact with the audience. It may be traditional or non-traditional media, and it may be online or offline.
Not only is integration important to advertising messages, it extends to sales, customer service, direct marketing, social media and public relations. Integration becomes a unified force. If different companies and departments are working separately—independent of one another—the potential for brand alignment greatly decreases.
Traditional advertising agencies were once considered to be true marketing partners (a term that has since been beat to death and misused). Better agencies were involved in high level marketing strategy, new product development, market research, package design, media planning and buying, collateral material (yes… even that stuff), promotional programs and, oh yes, advertising that worked. In short, the agency was viewed as a business-building partner and expected to bring ideas to the table that could make a difference regardless of the medium. To achieve that, agencies had to have the marketing capability and passion to understand the client’s business as well as examine trends.
So, how does all this apply to marketing for the healthcare industry? Healthcare needs to be viewed as a unique business model. Not only is it complex, highly competitive and constantly changing, the virtues of a healthcare organization must be completely understood to be accurately reflected. And healthcare decisions for the consumer involve so many propositions on so many different levels—from the quality, to the value, to the emotional connection.
When searching for an agency, rather than seek out “specialists” in services, find an agency that has a proven track record in healthcare marketing communications. You may just find that broad range of services you need under one roof. And finding an agency that has a broad base of clients, not only in the healthcare industry, will help avoid a myopic view on communication solutions.