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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. This follows two years of data collected for Modern Healthcare’s 19th Annual Mergers & Acquisitions Report showing the number of hospital deals climbing more than 18% to 109 in 2012, up from 92 deals recorded in 2011.

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 strategies, success requires managing the inter-related disciplines of Brand, Buy-In & Marketing to drive business performance.

Without proper planning, hospitals, healthcare systems and physician groups in the midst of transitioning through a merger or acquisition will always encounter:
• a brand that struggles to support the newly-formed organization’s purpose, values and goals
• a fractured internal audience that must be reiled on 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 healthcare systems, hospitals and physician groups 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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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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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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