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We’re recently back from a fantastic 8-day trip to Amsterdam. If you haven’t been, put this city on your list.

Our hotel was equally fantastic. But it was our journey to selecting the hotel that weighed into this and helped cement the deal. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson (though no one is sure if he was the originator) — it’s the journey, not the destination.

Our journey was an example of leisure marketing at it’s best. A brand team recognizing that the trip begins as soon as the initial decision is made to get away. This particular hotel, above all others we researched, provided exactly what we needed and wanted. Leading with our interests, as if we had already talked to them about what mattered most to us as visitors to their city (which, as you’ll read below, they’ve been doing for years).

Here are five guest-focused benefits that distinguished this hotel from others:

Combination Of Owned and Earned Media

We saw their advertising. It was beautiful, aspirational, and really did capture the specialness of the hotel (but we only knew this after the fact). What made the difference was the strength of their owned and earned media presence. Their website in particular was exceptional in terms of its value-add experience. And their earned media (particularly the conversation via Trip Advisor and Yelp), provided an important third-party, believable source point for decision-making.

Mobile Responsive Design

Wherever I was, I was able to do my research, as the hotel’s mobile responsive website automatically changed to fit the device I was viewing it on (in my case, on my iPad and iPhone, and periodically at Starbuck’s drinking my Mocha Light [satisfying but low fat] Frappuccino).

Ongoing Prospective & Current Guest Conversations

This hotel is in constant dialogue with its prospective and current guests. Through the website, at the hotel, through formal surveys, its concierges and staff. They are dedicated to delivering the best possible experience, which only comes about through deep understanding of what audiences need and want.

Promises Made, Promises Kept

The website advises that if you want to have a conversation beyond the online chat, a concierge will gladly get back to you within 24 hours. Which he did. Good thing, since there’s this prominent quote on the website from the General Manager – “Being successful means staying on top of things.”

Let The Trip Begin

Once we booked with the hotel, we received regular updates about what was going on in and around the city. Nice way to keep us engaged, surprised and delighted – before even beginning our (physical) trip. Which actually began, however, as soon as we made the decision to get away.

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Here’s an important piece of news for leisure marketers – over 55% of consumers (WNBC Survey) say they will take several shorter weekend getaways instead of the traditional vacation retreat.

So what happened to that opulent weeklong getaway, several times a year, far away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life? Given the lasting effects of the economic downturn along with changing lifestyle needs, consumers have become more attracted to drive-to resort getaways which offer long weekend experiences. Whether it be the family with small children who need a “kid-friendly” place with adult amenities, or the boomers who are now indulging themselves in more practical ways.

So how is the lifestyle and resort industry turning this trend into opportunities for growth and expansion, and what brand marketing strategies should be considered?

Mixed-use Resorts – Appealing to the Masses
Mixed-use resort destinations are growing in popularity – with hotels, recreation, entertainment, sporting activities, golf courses, spas, convention centers, and large-scale attractions combining. Many developers are implementing a four-season strategy to capture year round revenues – designing resorts with flexible indoor/outdoor recreational spaces that appeal to all ages, all year-long. And, by offering broad appeal amenities these resorts have significantly influenced the concept of “togethering” – multi-generational family getaways that had seemed to dissipate over the years.

Some exceptional resorts adopting this four-season strategy include,Crystal Springs – a world-class destination nestled in the rolling farmlands of NJ, offering everything from outdoor adventure experiences, to top-rated golf courses and luxurious dining and spa experiences. And, Woodloch, a lakeside Pocono Mountain (Pennsylvania) resort that prides itself on the traditional warm hospitality it has nurtured for over fifty years; providing a retreat for families with endless activities and entertainment, thoroughly embracing the spirit of spending quality time together.

The Conundrum and the Solution
The mixed-use resort has created both a marketing challenge and an opportunity for the hospitality industry. How to implement a cost-effective, results oriented marketing strategy that appeals to every demographic and every interest? Knowing that a one-size-fits all marketing approach is not going to be of interest to all consumers, all the time, and can also be cost prohibitive.

By leveraging a strategy that augments traditional (paid) advertising channels with (owned and earned) content, digital and social, hospitality marketers can better connect with and engage audiences. And, with more than 76% of travel planned online, establishing a strong and steady presence is critical. Consider:

• Content – not an option, a requirement. The advantages of content marketing are numerous (and measurable) – with brands now acting as “publishers” to engage in meaningful ways with their audiences. Implementing tools to “pull” customers to brands – i.e. blogs, social media, newsletters, webinars, eBooks, photo-sharing, and videos, are no longer considerations, but requirements to stay competitive and top of mind.

• Social Media and Mobile – increase need for responsive and/or mobile websites. Social media and mobile will continue to merge. Mobile has allowed social media to truly become real time, enabling consumers to create updates from their phone, while tagging friends or checking in – what a great opportunity for resort guests to share their experiences. And, with Smartphones representing more than 50% of new mobile devices being purchased, providing multi-platform access will be essential. If you don’t have the budget to invest in a responsive site, consider a mobile (.m) version.

• Photo-Sharing – will begin to dominate. Establishing a strong presence on photo-sharing sites like Pinterest and Instagram provide powerful ways for hospitality brands to visually communicate their lifestyle messages. And, with Pinterests’ ongoing enhancements to the platform, hospitality marketers are presented with unique opportunities to curate, collect and highlight the very best.

• Marketing Videos – unrehearsed videos on the rise. Video is one of the most effective ways to engage web visitors. On a daily basis, more than 89 million people in the U.S. (ComScore) are viewing and sharing video online, including streaming video on mobile devices. Presenting videos in different ways (e.g. demos, reviews, special events and activities), will continue to influence decision-making, and including user-generated videos has added appeal since they are actual consumer experiences.

• Online Digital – establishing a strong, ongoing online presence. Over 90 million adults conduct travel searches online, so hospitality marketers need to be where these prospects are living. There’s no denying the marketing value of mixing owned, paid, and earned media, whether it be SEM, contextually relevant display advertising, or Facebook advertising.

The common thread for hospitality and leisure marketers is a plan that maximizes reach and relevance, in real-time, while minimizing cost. The key is implementing a plan that continually provides insight and utilizes that knowledge to refine and optimize on the go. With over half of all travelers seeking shorter weekend getaways, they’re primed for your invitation!

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Turning 50. It’s just not that big a deal. At least chronologically.

But it is for the marketers who’ve coveted these people in the past. Because the 10,000 of them who turn 50 every day are no longer part of their 18-49 in-crowd. While they’ve seemingly had them on their radar screen forever, their signal is now lost.

For the marketers whose brands are being consumed by the 50+ market – which is an exhaustive list that includes far more categories than not – marketing to boomers (and seniors) represents a lucrative opportunity. But this group doesn’t think, feel and act like it’s predecessors.

So you really need to know them in order to resonate with them. Understand (and empathize with) their attitudes, beliefs, motivations, realities and fears. And do this based on their different life stages, because 50+ as a target audience is just about as useless as 18-49.

So what does this mean for brands? How can they better capitalize on this (largest and fastest growing) audience segment? Here are some imperatives, written with an underlying belief of ours that this audience deserves better (more respectful and more useful) marketing.

1. Today’s 50+ audience is keenly focused on health, well-being, and vitality (60 is the new 40). Those brand’s that genuinely reflect these values and help their 50+ audience achieve this tri-fecta will forge stronger emotional connections with, and achieve maximum return from, this demographic which controls 50% of all discretionary income.

2. This segment is 18 years wide, and not homogeneous. From parents with kids in school, to those contemplating retirement to those waving sayonara to their 40+ year careers. So segmentation, understanding, insight and action (as well as appropriate inaction) are keys to ensuring your brand’s relevance in their lives.

3. What’s inspiring and delighting to some, doesn’t cut it across the board. So marketing to boomers and seniors requires proactively and holistically shaping offerings (knowing for example, that experiences trump things and that having it their way [no reference to McDonald’s], among other unique characteristics, is part of their mindset).

4. Speaking of “holistic”, think 360. From developing and tweaking products, to developing packaging, collateral, online content, experiences, promotion, through to execution of your advertising and even retail presence. Are you really speaking and acting in ways that are relevant to their lives, or are you merely paying them lip service.

These just begin to scratch the surface. Designed to at least get you thinking about the kind of brand platforms and marketing that these people deserve. Because the failure to address their specific interests, values and concerns just might be detrimental to your business.

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It’s in every brand marketer’s job description to ensure their brand stands for something. That something (“one-thing”) that helps the brand stand out and apart from others in its space. It’s what’s expected. But what’s expected doesn’t always stand out and apart. Because, it’s expected.

So, why not take a stand against something. Go against the grain. Compel people to take notice. Like Mini Cooper’s doing. Its “Not normal” campaign from Butler, Shine Stern & Partners, Sausalito, Calif. pushes the brand’s peculiarity to stand out from brands like Chevrolet’s Spark. You can read the article here.

Tom Salkowsky, Mini’s marketing chief, says it’s a continuation of the brand’s long-time strategy of turning left while the rest of the auto companies turn right. “We’re a feisty, small brand. We’re a featherweight in the ring with heavyweights. We have to stick and move,” he said.

Good advice for all brand marketers regardless of category, as:

• most brands really are the “feisty, small brands”

• who are duking it out with heavyweights with resources to match

• and who must leverage everything in their marketing toolbox to tell and demonstrate their story in ways that ultimately enrich people’s lives

The essence of a great story (great brand story) is that it takes you in a different direction from the one you expect. It invites the reader (the consumer) to think in an unexpected way. Sort of like going against the grain and “standing against something.” Like Mini!

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Retirees spend approximately $93 billion on prescription drugs every year.

Good reason for Rite-Aid and Walgreen’s to capitalize on the changing health care climate, and the growing array of healthcare options. Their new “marketing to boomers” initiatives are reviewed in this article – Drugstores Going After Baby Boomers’ Dollars.

Rite-Aid is rolling out a campaign promoting its new wellness 65+ loyalty program, while Walgreens re-named its “Take Care” in-store clinics to “Healthcare Clinics” to attract new customers by addressing chronic diseases prevalent in older Americans, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. According to Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson, “the chain has the opportunity to move from just convenience to more health, daily living and beauty.”

While retail brands have an opportunity to create in-store experiences and offerings that foster stronger relationships and truly build loyalty – this marketing to boomer strategy should extend well beyond retail to all the “health, daily living and beauty brands” sitting on those stores shelves. And for these brand marketers, the key is to consider (beyond the in-store experience) how to make the brand experience come to life for boomers at every touch-point: online, on-the-go and everywhere else.

But healthcare marketers, and marketers in general, need to proceed with caution. Because boomers, like every other audience segment (and which is actually comprised of multiple sub-segments), exhibit unique attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. There are also physical, emotional and lifestyle realities that distinguish the 50+ market from younger generations – and these realities evolve as people move from middle age to old age.

The 50+ audience represents a lucrative opportunity for those willing to genuinely embrace this enormous, growing market. But knowing who they are, how to connect with them based on their motivations, and what they want out of your marketing is an important requisite for success. Time will tell for Rite-Aid and Walgreens!

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The concept of energy is at the heart of our culture at Burberry and comes from a deep core of shared values.

These are the words from this TED talk of Angela Ahrendts, CEO, Burberry. Her talk addresses why we need energy, what makes it work, how it can be communicated and where it takes us. As we’ve built Trajectory around “creating new energy“, it’s gratifying to see that a prestigious brand like Burberry embodies and lives this ideal.

Three key takeaways from her talk:

1. Amidst pervasive feelings of fear, distrust and uncertainty – the response might be surprisingly simple. A powerful force we’re all born with – energy.

2. Passionate, positive human energy can provide a counterbalance to the disruptive negative forces of an age of unprecedented change. Through it comes confidence, inspiration and the power to transform things for the better.

3. Energy, at the heart of Burberry culture, comes from a deep core of shared values, based on:

• Trust – single-handedly the most powerful source of positive energy and once in place, unlocks a freedom and peace to explore.
• Intuition – teaches us to use our natural inclinations to protect the possibilities rather than simply accepting the probabilities.
• Belief – builds alignment and creates confidence. Belief is what sets energy in motion, and creates the success that breeds more success.

Please watch the video. And please do share your comments.

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Mobile is consuming your customer’s lives. Are you a part of it?

What’s the first thing they see when they wake up in the morning and the last thing they see when they go to sleep at night?  Their spouse?  Kids?  Sparky, their pet cat?

For almost a third of mobile users (and there are 4.3 out of 7.1 billion of you; Source: Communities Dominate Brands), it’s their phone and almost half of them sleep with it by their side so as not to miss a single comment made on the Facebook status they JUST posted.

Current mobile statistics are equally fascinating (and scary), starting with the fact that more people own a mobile phone than own a toothbrush? Really?

Some other stats:

–   44% of smartphone owners in the US say they are interested in making in-person payments with their devices. (Source:

–   67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating  (Source: Pew Research Center)

–   29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without.” (Source: Pew Research Center)

–   41% of people have used a mobile device to browse for a product after seeing it in a show or advertisement. (Source:

–   It took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million users, 4 years for the internet…50 DAYS for the “Draw something” mobile app (Source:

Marketing Opportunities

If you’re a marketer, these stats should only be fodder for your next campaign. Mobile tools and technologies – GPS, near-field communication (NFC), SMS alerts, QR Codes, mobile apps, augmented reality (AR) – are opening a new world of possibilities. Curated below for your convenience and enjoyment are a few examples of how savvy marketers are utilizing mobile to galvanize audiences to engage with their brands.

  • Google Play: At an Australian airport, travelers were able to scan a QR code from an NFC-enabled digital billboard to directly download Google Play products (books, music, movies).
  • Retailers via iButterfly: Mobile app iButterfly takes a unique approach to couponing using AR technology.  Users can “catch”, collect, and share butterflies (each one holds a coupon).
  • BOS Tea: Applying social media and NFC technology, BOS Tea employed a brand engagement campaign that allowed consumers standing near their vending machines to receive a free bottle by posting #BOSTWEET4T to their Twitter accounts.

Nary (or at least numbered) are the days of simple display advertising.  The best campaigns will integrate multiple platforms (combination of social, mobile, traditional) to engage audiences in an all-encompassing way and empower them to meet their goals.

But Proceed With “Their” Value In Mind

Shorter attention spans and myriad thirsty competitors.  On average, the typical person has an attention span of 8 seconds (down from 12 seconds in 2000), refuses to wait 10 seconds for a video to load, and receives about 5,000 marketing messages/day (Source:  While the good news is that people are checking their phones constantly (90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of being delivered), the bad news is that they want to ignore or delete the inundation of marketing messages they’re receiving daily.  So it’s critical for brands to add value to their customers’ busy lives through relevant content that’s based on their interests, not interrupt with loud, flashy ads (think Starbucks with their quick mobile payment system or Nike with their fitness tracking tools).

It’s an exciting time for branding and marketing – as there’s more opportunity than ever before to better understand and respond to your audiences’ functional and emotional needs.

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“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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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:


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?


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.


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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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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