Jul
10

AppIconLove

“We want to do an app!”

But is this really reason enough for a marketer to launch into a new initiative? (Rhetorical question, no need to answer). Apps are great for a lot of things, putting more features and functionality in our hands than anyone could ever have imagined. But before falling in love with the idea of developing an app, ask yourself or your team one simple question first – can this/should this project and its objectives be accomplished with a mobile friendly website instead?

Here are some of the often overlooked benefits of developing for the web using a responsive HTML5 approach instead of building an app.

1) Develop once, deploy everywhere.

Great strides have been made in developing apps for multiple platforms, but it is still a more cumbersome and costly process.

2) Stronger SEO value.

Content development is a difficult and time-consuming process, especially in the healthcare industry where the key content creators are the most starved for time. So every piece of content needs to work extra hard for you. Having your content on a live site vs stuffed inside of an app makes it visible to the search engines.

3) Doesn’t take up space on your device.

Many of my downloads have hit the app grave yard because I (like many of you) have run out of space on my device (e.g. my son does so many picture worthy things that I need to leave those precious MBs to capture every moment).

4) The desktop is not dead yet.

While mobile usage is still climbing fast, we tend to overlook the fact that people are still using their desktops in larger numbers. A responsive website will be available to those who are stationery as well as those on the go.

5) But what about those fun icons?

Don’t worry, you can have your cake and eat it too. Many mobile friendly sites encourage bookmarking their home page and have icons that will pop up on your home screen, just like an app!

6) Accessibile and immediate.

A browser is on everyone’s device, while people will need to download your app (another step in the process) in order to participate in what you have to offer. A tough sell sometimes in a world of immediacy.

Apps obviously have their place and offer a level of functionality and interactivity that the web is not able to provide. But they should be developed only when your goals can not be accomplished through the development of a mobile website. So, beware “app love” and build the appropriate technology to best meet your needs.

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Jul
02

Screen shot 2013-07-01 at 9.55.13 PMHospital mergers and acquisitions are expected to remain strong this year. In some cases, deals are driven by the need to financially seek economies of scale or to strategically capture a larger share of the market. But in all cases, beyond the financials and operational strategies, success requires managing the inter-related disciplines of Brand, Buy-In & Marketing to drive business performance.

Without proper brand and marketing planning, hospitals and healthcare systems in the midst of a merger or acquisition will encounter:

• a brand that struggles to support the newly-formed organization’s purpose, values and goals
• an internal audience not equipped to deliver unified messages and experiences
• external marketing promises that might not sync with internal delivery
• inefficiencies resulting in sub-optimal return on marketing investment

At Trajectory, we’ve worked with multiple healthcare organizations through these transitions, and understand the unique challenges they face. Here’s a top ten list of issues to consider as your hospitals or healthcare systems transition from pre-merger competitors to post-merger partners:

BRAND

1. M&A brand team: created across your organizations to proactively act on and communicate leadership decisions and to navigate the range of tangibles and intangibles on the table, e.g. logistics, preparation, training.

2. Brand compatibility: short-term financial and market share strength will not overcome the need to develop aligned purpose, values and promises.

3. Portfolio strength: how will the merger or acquisition maximize your organizational, facilities and service line capabilities in terms of brand portfolio management?

BUY-IN

4. Cultural fit: what’s the likelihood of integrating medical staff and employees, across all functions, on both sides of the M&A table. And whose culture leads?

5. Open communication: have you established feedback mechanisms (both offline and online) for both internal and external audiences.

6. Engagement: are your organization’s truly united. You don’t know, and can’t act upon, until you measure.

MARKETING

7. Market growth: how will the M&A guide your new entity towards achieving market reach and growth without hindering each organization’s key revenue generating, strategic and mission-driven service lines?

8. Marketing philosophy and approach: is marketing considered an investment or expense. Does it tend to be brand or service line-driven? Is it directed to physicians or patients? How will you align your two organizations?

9. Local community commitment: do your organizations have the same commitment to your local communities; does bigger now mean less touch in order to serve the health needs of the larger region?

10. From follower to leader: how will you adjust your approach from being the #2 or #3 player to becoming a stronger market share leader?

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Jun
17

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Kudos to BBH for producing this captivating, important, culturally boundary-less healthcare PSA — which just happens to be the only healthcare-related advertising up for a Cannes Film Festival award.

It’s work that every healthcare marketing person – whether you’re working for a health system, hospital, service line or specialty physician group – has the opportunity to create. Hopefully wants to create deep down inside.

All it takes is (actually a lot of) COURAGE…

• to dig deep for that powerful, universally connecting idea
• to fight for surprising and provocative work, because otherwise (as you really know anyway) it’s just more noise
• to create marketing that really matters as it has the opportunity to more meaningfully engage, unite and provoke change

You can (really should) watch the commercial here. And please share your comments.

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Jun
13

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FACT: Customer’s don’t care about your company and your products. What they care about is themselves and what you can do for them (in ways that others can’t) to better their lives.

If you agree with this (it is a fact, after all), then healthcare marketing should take a cue from the seemingly worlds-away golf industry. Which, by the way, supports why it’s so important to get outside your particular category – because new ideas can always be found by seeing in new ways.

Healthcare marketing (healthcare system, hospital and service-line marketing) still tends to be (of course there are exceptions) seller-driven, while golf marketing tends to be buyer-driven. Healthcare marketing often leaves up to you, the buyer, how you fit in their world. Golf marketers, on the other hand, tend to lead with the benefits that help buyers achieve their goals.

Why do buyers hire you? In the case of healthcare, it’s not only because you have the best docs, leading-edge technology, multiple locations, integrated care, perform more surgeries, are a top hospital, claim to offer world-class care close to home, etc. In golf, this would be akin to messages focused around senior leadership, testing facilities, the materials that make up the head, face and/or shaft of a club or the number of layers or dimples on a golf ball, etc.

Patients hire you, to put it into golf marketers terms, because you help them groove their swing, hit the ball farther, control their spin, gain more accuracy, better enjoy their rounds, play their best golf, etc. And they hire YOU specifically because you lead with buyer benefits vs. seller attributes –– and help them better their lives beyond your competitors.

To keep it simple, it comes down to two things (at least for our purposes here):

1. Relevance. The ability to fit with consumer needs and desires and to undersand their decision criteria.
2. Differentiation. The degree to which consumers perceive your brand (through communications and experience) to offer a bundle of functional, emotional and self-image benefits distinctive from competition.

I love golf. Many people do. But we all NEED health (and) care. In light of this, healthcare brand marketing must work harder. Healthcare brands (healthcare system brands, hospital brands, your service line brands) should be powerful business tools to help drive business performance. But this starts with relevance and differentiation. So…help consumers to help you!

What’s your point-of-view?

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Jun
11

World of Aerin

Are you a fashion marketer, beauty marketer or senior executive setting your sights on lifestyle-brand status?

As I comb daily through WWD for the latest and greatest in leisure, lifestyle and beauty marketing and branding, I’m struck by a recurring theme – or should I say dream. It seems like every high-end consumer brand – from Kate Spade New York and Michael Kors – to Coach, Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani and Aerin Lauder (of esteemed Estee Lauder) are setting their sites (figuratively and literally) on becoming full-fledged lifestyle brands to expand their customer franchises as well as to meet their financial ambitions (and demands).

So What Does it Mean to be a Lifestyle Brand?

First we need to embrace the concept of a lifestyle brand to better understand the dynamics of this trend, especially among top fashion icons and beauty brands. A lifestyle brand attempts to personify the values and aspirations of a group or subculture for purposes of creating a more loyal, engaged and active fan base. We all have our own identity that defines who we are and reflects our personal choices, experiences, background and aspirations. And when we purchase certain brands, it is a decision that expresses our personal identity through the eyes of the brand. Essentially, we are saying that this brand “embodies who I am (or want to be) and my current (or desired) lifestyle”.

In today’s hyper-competitive world of fashion and beauty, many top brands are extending beyond their original product categories – as they understand that they are really selling a defining image and lifestyle (e.g. Burberry embodies iconic elegance with authentic, British chic spirit; while Victoria Secret brings beauty and fantasy into every woman’s life in a sexy and sophisticated way) – and we buy into this “lifestyle” and what it represents.

Can Every Brand Become a Lifestyle Brand?

Attempting to position your brand as a lifestyle brand expands your competitive frame (as well as the resources necessary to support this expansion) as you extend across more categories. So the brand and the story it tells has to be larger (and relevant), authentic (delivering against the high expectations customers have of it) and provide a genuine emotional attachment to a particular lifestyle, therefore creating an enduring bond with your customers. For successful lifestyle brands like Ralph Lauren and Kate Spade, the financial benefits are significant, not only in customer loyalty and continuity of demand but greater ease in launching new products due to the inherent endorsement and trust of the lifestyle brand.

Building Lifestyle Brand Affinity

Aerin Lauder serves as a great example of an emerging lifestyle brand that transcends the boundaries of her family’s classic beauty business. Her range embodies her passion for beauty, fashion, entertaining and decorating and her sophisticated yet simple modern sensibility appeals to women on the go and in the know. The breadth of her offering is vast yet everything reflects her personal sense of style as well as her own life, with the goal of “decorating the consumer from head to toe and her house from floor to ceiling.” And the results to date are impressive, with key retailers like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman giving high marks to her fresh approach –– attracting new and younger customers to her fold.

For businesses desiring lifestyle brand status, even Aerin Lauder followed some key steps that serve as good lessons learned:

One category at a time. Create a strong foundation, grow relevance and credibility and then build on it. Kate Spade started her lifestyle brand by creating a strong reputation in handbags and then evolved into new categories from there…from ready-to-wear, fashion accessories and tech accessories to jewelry, shoes, beauty and home.

Deliver authenticity. Your brand should be based on a defined heritage, capability and well-defined set of values, a la Ralph Lauren. It also needs to deliver against the high expectations that customers have of it.

Demonstrate authority in your space. Top lifestyle brands today are blogging, creating how-to videos, writing articles, and more. With a passionate and active fan base, take the opportunity to socialize your brand to spark meaningful connections, tap into the emotional bond with your audiences and drive deeper (and more profitable) relationships.

Create a coherent style. Since being a lifestyle brand means transcending multiple categories, it is key to establish a strong umbrella identity that captures all the brand has to offer. As with Aerin Lauder, she created a new modern sensibility that was built on her signature elegance and understated beauty. Everything she does adheres to this style.

Establishing, and more importantly, growing a great lifestyle brand takes commitment, financial backing and vision. Will you be the next great lifestyle brand?

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Jun
02

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Trajectory’s new TV work for California-based beauty marketer Pacific World’s SensatioNail Gel Polish is now on the air.

These Hands Can’t Wait is the new campaign that puts SensatioNail in the midst of its customers real lives – giving them the ability to do their own at-home (salon-quality) gel manicure in a way that seamlessly fits with their busy lifestyles.

SensatioNail is the first at-home gel manicure process that saves women time and money. The brand promises easy application, zero dry time and up to two weeks of dazzling, damage proof wear.

Goals of the beauty marketing campaign are to effectively establish SensatioNail as the authority in the at-home gel manicure category and to drive traffic and sales through key retail partners. While the campaign will ultimately be extended across print, web, public relations and social media, you can see the two new spots here and here.

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May
16

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Our community-building is a virtuous circle of inspiration between our healthcare system and our communities.

These are not the typical words of a healthcare marketer. We don’t expect them to be talking about avid fan bases and active participants in co-creating new value. We don’t expect them to be comparing their brands to Kiehl’s, Lego, Sharpie, Benefit Cosmetics, Red Bull

And you know what, you’re right. I fabricated this quote. But why can’t this be the case? Why can’t healthcare systems and hospitals have active fan bases? Who laid down the law that healthcare marketing must follow a set pattern of self-describe, proclaim and repeat (albeit now across multiple platforms).

True community-building (with the result being “a virtuous cycle of inspiration between provider and customer”) SHOULD be a vibrant component of the healthcare marketing mix. With the competitive provider landscape changing – and the impact of this being more choice (particularly for more “routine” medical conditions) – loyal fans means more people wrapped more tightly around their brands, which means competitive insulation and more profitable business.

We’re thrilled at the extent to which one of our Trajectory healthcare system clients has embraced their (our) new tagline of Advancing Health. Transforming Lives. We’ve witnessed how in a very short time it’s become the guidepost for much of their decision-making, both internally and externally. And this “platform” idea gives them license (in fact the responsibility) to create the energy that moves their communities forward – in ways that feed their interests and passions.

True community-building helps both client brand and communities grow stronger – based on a “virtuous circle of inspiration.” I know, there are places like Mayo Clinic that have really stepped out to provide their communities with new and greater forms of value. But as I’m sure you agree, these examples are way too few and far between.

What’s your POV?

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May
09

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Are all those lines and sku’s really necessary?

We wake up in the morning viewing the world through the lens of a consumer. But then we get to work and our focus changes to that of business manager. The blinders come on and our sights are set on our defined sectors and the scope of our business. One moment, we’re barraged with an overwhelming number of choices. A moment later, it’s your job to present your other “you” with more choices. Not quite a recipe for mutual gain.

Beauty is an incredibly crowded category. There are hundreds of competitors, hundreds of thousands of items. Add to this the new segments that continue to emerge – from natural and organic to fashion brands edging their way into cosmetics, nutri-cosmetics, at-home devices, ethnic-targeted brands, beauty for men, tweens, etc. Some choice is good. But piling on more and more is a recipe for complexity, confusion and frustration (both for consumers and inevitably for your business).

So, how can beauty marketers create win-win brand portfolios? Start by considering these indicators that provide an objective view of your brand evolution and future potential. In the absence of this, you really do lack the ability to enable optimal decision-making and take the right course of specific actions.

Consider your portfolio from the inter-related viewpoints of Business, Brand and Consumer.

Business
• Does the portfolio fit with your business strategy and support strategic priorities?
• Does the marketplace value your participation (relative strength): is your name
relevant, are you providing customer benefit?
• Are you creating access to new beauty markets and customers?
• Implementation: do you have the resources to appropriately support; can you execute
with a high degree of success?
• Financial: does historical performance warrant?

Brand
• Do offerings build your brand value: do they fit with your story and positioning,
protect existing equities
• Are you creating desired new associations?
• Is there a clear relationship between new and existing brands?
• Does a new brand contribute to growing overall portfolio value?
• If offering fails, is it a major or minor setback for your brand?

Customer
• Does the brand address customer needs (today and tomorrow)?
• Is it a differentiated and superior value offering?
• Is it market-driven and customer-focused

While these are only some strategic indicators (financial indicators being the other benchmark), they’ll at least begin to help you take a holistic view of your portfolio and glean insights into relative performance of, and relative potential across, your brands.

Remember, more might not necessarily be better.

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May
06

SocialBrandI was hooked! While recently working on a beauty branding research assignment, I found myself so deeply connected to these brands that I instantly “fanned” them on Facebook, began “following” them on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, became an enewsletter “subscriber”, and “viewed” more YouTube videos than I can remember.  Christian Dior, Tom Ford, Chanel and several others were no longer just iconic beauty brands to me, I was now “engaging” with them in ways I could have never imagined. But how did this happen so quickly?

Having worked at brand marketing agencies my entire career, I now found myself on the other side of the fence as a consumer (not a marketing professional) influenced by the phenomenon known as social media – a brand engagement platform offering me new and more meaningful ways to instantly connect with these brands and their online communities.  

The Undeniable Influence of Social Media

Social media has had a significant impact on brand engagement, as it’s role continues to grow in terms of how consumers discover, research, and share information about brands and products.  With American consumers spending an average of 3.2 hours per day socially networking, the consumer decision journey has forever changed.  Just take a look at the Social Media Report recently published by Nielsen and NM Incite (a Nielsen/McKinsey company) to see how these decisions are increasingly driven by the opinions, tastes, and preferences of this extraordinary pool of social influencers.

  • 60% of consumers researching products through multiple online sources learned about a specific brand or retailer through social networking sites
  • Active social media users are more likely to read product reviews online, and 3 out of 5 create their own reviews of products and services
  • Overall, consumer-generated reviews and product ratings are the most preferred sources of product information among social media users
  • Consumers view social media networks as a more trustworthy source of information for products and services than brand-sponsored communications
  • Consumers feel more engaged with products when they are able to submit feedback
  • Socially Adept Brand Ambassadors

    Consumers are increasingly acting as ambassadors and advocates for brands through social media – as brands recruit fans and followers to facilitate consumer conversations and allow them to express their loyalty while also reinforcing the brands mission. The Dove® Movement for Self-Esteem, is a great example of utilizing the power of like-minded people to advocate for your brand – in this case a movement to build positive self-esteem and inspire all women and girls to reach their full potential.  To understand the importance of these advocates, consider these statistics:

    • A majority, 53% of active social networkers follow brands
    • Social media users are interested in collaborating with their favorite brands, with 60% (of 18- to 34-year-olds) stating they want to give product improvement recommendations, and another 64% wanting to customize their products
    • 58% of social media users say they write product reviews to protect others from bad experiences
    • Women are more likely than men to tell others about products they like – 81% of females vs. 72% of males
    • On average, a consumer will mention brands 90 times/week and your brand is more likely to be mentioned if you have an ongoing dialog and relationship with your brand advocates

    Fueling the Social Engine

    Social media growth has been fueled by increased demand for connectivity and access to/usage of mobile devices. While PC’s remain the predominant device for consumer access (61%), social networking time on mobile apps and the mobile web have increased 63% – with over 55% of social networking occurring on mobile devices. Consumer demand for on-the-go brand engagement is growing and global brands are conforming – 90% now have mobile sites. What’s next?

    Smarter Social Media

    We know first-hand that brand marketers tend to feel pressure to create a dynamic presence on every social media platform, only to learn that the “network” is ever-changing. So what does the future hold for our hyper-connected, hyper-digitized world?

    Consumer engagement is better served through a smarter and simpler approach – one that melds business objectives, brand positioning and personality, and consumers’ social media behavior to develop programs that can represent a brand’s individual “brand engagement sweetspot.” It’s an ongoing process of actively observing, shaping resultant communications strategy, monitoring conversations and refining activities. Sort of the old “rinse and repeat.”

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Apr
18

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I can now cross Augusta National and The Masters off of the proverbial list, as I was lucky enough to attend the final weekend.

While we went for the thrill of it, and not for anything work-related, it’s hard (at least for me) not to equate it back to the branding and marketing work we do for a living. Because for me, I was blown away by the brilliant execution and subsequent “Masters” brand experience.

Here are some examples (in no particular order):

1. The course is flawless. Every detail paid attention to –– from the pine straw, to the stunning beauty of the azaleas, to the grass that is cut so fine that it could double as a carpet.

2. Before you can get to the course, however, you need to pass through multiple sets of gates and then through security. Unlike other similar events, however, everyone (literally) has a smile on their face, is as kind as can be, and is apt to be joking with fans. Case in point, you’re not allowed to bring in cameras or cell phones on the weekend. But more than once, we heard security asking if “someone would please take their picture so they could send it to their mom.”

3. It’s shocking how affordable everything is (though you do pay a handsome price to attend in the first place). But unlike other events – sandwiches, fresh fruit and drinks are upwards of only $2-$3 dollars. Brilliant, however, is the fact that all of the drink cups are really collectors items stamped with “2013 The Masters.” At the end of each day, everyone’s leaving with their drink cups. Avoids a lot of trash collection, doesn’t it?

4. Gift shops, while really crowded, are also designed to maximize the customer experience. Many of the shirts available for sale are behind a well-manned counter, identified by number. So all you do is ask for the number, by size, and your well-wrapped shirt (knowing that most people will be packing them) is ready to go. Cash registers are also outside the shops, mitigating the lines that typically interfere with shoppers.

5. The fans themselves are “different” at The Masters. They’re kinder, gentler and friendlier inside these ropes. Coming together to share in their love of, and respect for, the sport. Though it might also have to do with the fact that there’s no running, disparaging language or obnoxious shouting tolerated on the course :)

6. Sports was a huge part of my life growing up, and still is. So I really appreciated two of the more memorable acts of brilliant sportsmanship. The first being Angel Cabrera, recognizing with a thumb’s up his competitor’s shot on the second playoff hole. The second being the grace of winner Adam Scott in his post victory interview, paying homage to fellow countryman and mentor Greg Norman.

7. Finally (though not really), those same security people who welcomed you at 7am thank you for sharing your day with us , remind you to please drive safely so we can see you tomorrow, and ask you to think about the picture they want for their mom.

“The Masters” is an incredible brand with an incredible back story. Beyond the legends who have helped shape and add to the story –– from Sarazen to Nelson, Snead to Hogan, Palmer to Nicklaus, and most recently Bubba and Adam — brilliant execution and subsequent experience have definitely added to making this event one of the most highly coveted experiences a golf fan could ever ask for.

I’m glad that I can now say “thanks.”

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