There’s a new game in town.  And it’s creating surprising and delighting value for women looking to reverse the signs of aging.

PaloVia is the first FDA-cleared, at-home laser clinically proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes. It’s just been introduced for home use (and launched on QVC) by Palomar Medical Technologies, an industry leader and pioneer in the science of using lasers and light to improve personal appearance.

I had a chance to speak with Nancy Teumer, Palomar’s Consumer Global Marketing Director. Here’s a quick “lessons learned” that she said contributed to the PaloVia brand’s successful launch.

1. Nothing replaces a superior product. The PaloVia laser delivers unique and superior value to customers, helping them achieve what they’ve never before been able to at home. For a marketer, according to Nancy, “it doesn’t get any better than this.”

2. The customer has been the center of their universe. Seemingly obvious, but not always the case. Their attitudes, needs and behaviors informed Palomar’s work on this new brand every step of the way – explored through qualitative, quantitative and online chats.

3. Consistent communication. Between Nancy’s team and senior leadership, between client and agency, between agencies. Along the way, everyone was in sync, expectations were understood and there were never any surprises.

4. Honest and open dialogue. Nancy’s external resources have permission (in fact, are expected) to call it like they see it. They don’t always win, but they’re always heard. And the collective team output has been better as a result.

5. Established future brand vision. From early-on, Palomar researched, established and agreed to a future PaloVia brand vision — which informed all of their decisions and their work. And creatively executing against an agreed long-term vision makes it easier to know you’re doing the right things and measuring the right things.

6. Laser-like focus (pun “intended”). Flowing from above, Nancy said she and her teams (to deliver this entire launch on time) focused on what was critical (the target consumer and her motivations, creating a strong visual identity and presence, consistent brand messaging, etc.) and didn’t waste time or energy on anything else.

All early indications are that PaloVia’s off to a great start. But as Nancy said to me “now the fun really starts.”

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Do you need to build more relationship and financial value back to your health brand in 2011? Have the past couple of years sapped some of your brand strength?

Start with this 10-point brand checklist for reexamining and refreshing your brand:

1. Customers. Step back to understand what they really want, and whether you’re still feeding their desires and enticing their participation.
2. Brand Idea. Do you need to refine the big idea that defines you, helps you stand out from the crowd and really matters to customers (both inside and outside the organization).
3. Brand-Business Alignment. Is your business thinking and acting differently based on #2.
4. Brand Positioning. Is it focused, compelling and distinguishing, and grounded in #1 and #2.
5. Experience. Are you delivering an “on-brand” experience (pre-during-post use) that reflects your brand story.
6. Engaged Employees. Do they understand how they can contribute to building the brand, and do they possess the motivation and tools to do so.
7. Marketing. Does your marketing reflect this positioning through every possible medium you have at your organization’s disposal.
8. Design Execution. It needs to be brilliant. Make sure you have guidelines in place to drive brand expression.
9. Creating New Value. How can you create more value for your customers — identity value, social value, time value, utility value, etc.
10. Shareholders. Are you using the power of your brand to build shareholder confidence and drive behavior.

Make 2011 the year that you unleash the full power of your brand (and your customers).

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A strong social network can create a good mood and enhance self-esteem.

This was one of the interesting facts I stumbled upon the other day doing secondary research about wellness.  Here are some others from the web page Dimensions of Wellness:

• Socially isolated people are more susceptible to illness and have a death rate two to three times higher than those who are not socially isolated.
• People who maintain their social network and support systems do better under stress.
• Approximately 20 percent of Americans feel lonely and isolated during their free time.
• Laughter really is good medicine.
• Cholesterol levels go up when human companionship is lacking.
• Warm, close friendships cause higher levels of immunoglobulin A (an antibody that helps keep away respiratory infections and cavities).

Seems that social media (clearly not in the absence of being up close and personal) is actually good for one’s health!

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No one needs Jones Soda Co.  But people love it.
People need your health brand.  But do they love it?

In August 2000, Urban Juice and Soda Company Ltd. officially changed its name to Jones Soda Co (“JONES”). What stands out about the company is that they’ve always truly been led by, and interacting with, their consumer. While many are in the midst of evolving their “rules of engagement,” Jones has been at it for years.

They provide a great example of marketing that builds a brand around customers, on their terms – where, when and how they want. Here’s what I mean:

Where. They initially pursued an alternate distribution strategy in line with the lifestyle of their audiences. They placed their own coolers in unique venues such as skate, surf and snowboarding shops, tattoo and piercing parlors, as well as in individual fashion stores and national retail clothing and music stores. They then began a street “attack” by placing product in convenience and food stores, before achieving larger chain store listings.

When. Jones Pro Riders and Jones Emerging Riders, including extreme pro athletes promote Jones and wear the Jones logo at extreme sporting events across the country. The Jones RVs travel through cities in North America handing out soda and interacting with the people on the street.

How. From the many points of interaction and co-creation on the company’s website, to the recent MyJones Independent Music site, www.myjonesmusic.com, Jones Soda has created a cult-like following.

From their website, you can sign into the guestbook, upload a new label to the photo gallery, visit the webStore, suggest soda flavors, create fortunes found under the caps of Jones sodas, view the U.S. label map and order personalized labels.

Here are some things to learn from Jones about building brand love:

1. It’s clearly Jones. You can’t mistake their products or their marketing. Everything they do is distinctively Jones. Seldom the case with most brands.

2. Coherence vs. consistency. It’s easy to be consistent. But coherence allows Jones to deliver an overarching brand idea in all sorts of ways to the delight of their audience. And as we take in brand content at different times and on different platforms, executional consistency becomes less possible.

3. Creating a cult. Beyond loyal customers, Jones’ customers are active participants in an ongoing process of co-creating new value for themselves and the company – beyond that of other competitors.

4. Packvertising. Jones makes outstanding use of this in-store communications channel, creating real impact, distinctiveness (and advertising) at the over-crowded store shelf. Going back to 2001, they’ve featured 100’s of different fun and original customer contributed labels. FYI, here’s a portion of the label press sheet from November 2010.

5. Loving yourself first. An important driver of pride and connection, according to quantitative research from Interbrand, is “making products and services people are proud of.” By all indications, employees love their Jones brand.

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Boomers caring for their aging parents are even more heavily reliant on sites like Facebook than boomers in general.

This was an interesting finding from Pew Internet’s most recent study showing that use of networking sites in the 50-plus demographic grew 88% between 2009 and 2010 to 47%. Use among those 65-plus doubled to 26%, making them the fastest growing segment.

Consulting firm Age Lessons partnered with ComScore to further study this result, examining the online habits of 3.8 million boomer caregivers. What they found represents a strong niche opportunity for marketers:

• Estimates of the boomer caregiver population are around 15.5 million out of the 78 million boomers (nearly 20%). Seventy percent of the caregivers doing day-to-day care tasks are women.

• They use social media for 150 minutes per month and view 70% more pages than the average internet user. They’re driven to these sites by several primary reasons, according to the study:

1) Validate and reinforce their feelings. Being a caregiver, especially for your parents, causes all kinds of relationship stresses. Finding other people in similar situations, who also might be part of larger communities, is emotionally and spiritually important for this group.

2) Maintaining and streamlining connections.  Taking care of yourself is hard enough work. Taking care of your parents, especially when it happens out of the blue, is a major logistical problem. Using social media to keep up with friends and family can help maintain and  streamline connections.

3) Information and advice. The study found that they are more likely to research than buy online, but that they do buy, too. They’re three times as likely as the average boomer to use sites like Yelp and Citysearch before making a purchase.

It pays to engage this demographic (15.5 million strong) through social media. But when you do, consider how you can provide the important and sought-after benefit of a break from the stresses of family-care to self-care.  It will be a win-win engagement all around.

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We’re not selling you a product. If you believe in the same kind of world we’re committed to helping shape, partner with us to work on the issues together.

Love these comments about honest and authentic marketing from Jerry Greenfield, in this video interview on American Express’s OPEN Forum.

Good insight for healthcare marketers on how to build depth of engagement with your audiences – and earn their loyalty – through marketing that they actually value and want. It’s marketing that builds engagement between your brand and consumers, between consumers and each other, and allows them to see themselves reflected in your ideas and actions.

So, beyond your service lines, your best docs and your recognition – how are you tapping into the passions of your communities and patients?

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Virgin Active Health Clubs just inked a three-year deal for the London Triathlon, to be renamed the Virgin Active London Triathlon.

Here are six brand and customer benefits that I appreciate (as Virgin Active members should) about the new relationship:

1. Brand Values. It reinforces Virgin Active’s values of challenging the norm, having fun, innovation.
2. Helping Members Do More. Virgin Active will help its members train and prepare for the event as part of its sponsorship by launching a range of classes especially tailored for the event –– alongside the clubs staging their own indoor triathlon next year.
3. Promoting Participation. Being the world’s largest event of its type, it encourages a wide range of people of all fitness levels, from beginner to elite, to get involved and try it for themselves.
4. A Different Triathlon Experience. Participants (and spectators) can expect a uniquely Virgin Active Triathlon experience and spirit beyond that of other triathlons.
5. Engagement In A Uniquely Virgin Way.  Owning this event helps Virgin connect to its audiences in ways that other health clubs can’t. And it provides Virgin the opportunity to extend this engagement (in ways that are meaningful and compelling to members) for years to come.
6. Reflecting Positively on Virgin Active Members.  Virgin’s sponsorship of the triathlon, while enhancing Virgin’s image, also reflects positively on Virgin Active members self-image.

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I hope you never need Drive Savers. But if you do, you’ll be glad they exist.

Drive Savers Data Recovery helps organizations all over the planet “optimize the chances of a successful data recovery while offering the ultimate customer service experience.” Unfortunately, we needed to reach out to them last week. But the good fortune to have the company there when we needed them.

Here are some things that stand out about the company:

1. It starts with the advantage of being truly indispensable to clients, and the long-term sustainable competitive advantage this provides.
2. Commitment to outstanding customer service, despite the fact that being “indispensable” could easily translate into a mentality of they need us more than we need them.
3. Always available when you need them. You can reach a Drive Savers Data Recovery Advisor any time of day.
4. Customer empathy. Their Data Recovery Advisors know you’re at risk, and are sensitive to approaching the situation through your eyes and understanding your state of mind.
5. Telling their story through their customers. Go the website and browse their Hall of Fame where you can meet 50 or so celebrities who turned to the company to get saved. Or visit their Museum of Bizarre Disk-Asters, and read the headlines about the company’s Disaster Strikes recoveries. Both are indicative of the company’s very human and approachable voice.
6. Actions that reinforce company beliefs. Over the course of the week, a steady stream of communications reflected what the company states they believe in and care about.

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