By: Kate Crockett, Marketing and Social Media Director
I have a motto, since I first started in marketing over 15 years ago and it goes something like this: Marketing is an investment, not a purchase. Following this motto has aided me in many ways over the years and has been an easy way for me to educate those in management and business ownership about the patience required to build a solid marketing program. Social media is no exception.
As a business-marketing tactic, it takes time to understand a new medium, find your place and then build your audience. You can’t spend two minutes on any social media page without tripping over the next Twitter marketing guru or Facebook marketing expert. It’s debatable whether these people are indeed experts or gurus of anything other than self-promotion, but what the truly successful social media marketers have in common is patience to invest. To get a big return on your monetary investments, you have to be patient and choose wisely; marketing is no different.
Social media as part of any marketing plan has to follow this philosophy as well. It’s what is called a “pull-tactic,” not a “push-tactic.” Conventional marketing avenues like print ads, radio ads, direct mail, trade shows, promotional flyers or, for that matter, even the old town crier, are all “push-tactics.” Their purpose is to “push” out your marketing message repeatedly, which makes a brand impression and eventually (sooner rather than later) causes a shift in habit, purchase or opinion.
Social media is different. It is a “pull-tactic,” and its purpose is to provide content that is of interest to your intended audience.
Over time, your content will generate interest among those you wish to reach, thereby creating a following of people who will engage with you, learning through repeated interactions that you are the provider of the content they need. Overtime this creates a trust between you and your audience, and when the time arrives that the audience you have created is in need of services or products that you provide, they have a trusted resource from which to purchase that service or product. The key is being a voice in the marketplace that your audience can trust.
You have to be respectful of the fragile relationship that you have with a social media audience. If, for one second, they feel that you haven’t been truthful, forthright or that you haven’t put all your cards on the table, they’ll drop you and move onto someone else who provides what you do and is someone they trust. But as with any relationship, building trust takes two things — time and effort. You have to be willing, capable and able to do both of those things before spending time on social media as a marketing tactic.
What ways are you building trust with your audience?
Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money. We bought shoes only when we had seriously outgrown them. And there were no Nikes. We mostly wore dress shoes — the ones that had to be polished regularly. During the school week, those shoes took a beating on the playground as well as during after-school rough housing. Come Sunday, the shoes would stick out like a sore thumb in our go-to-church clothes unless they had a good shine to cover the week’s scuffs and other flotsam and jetsam picked up by a grade-schooler. To our mother, this step was mandatory. And so it came to be one of life’s essential weekly routines
When I started travelling extensively for business, I began to notice the shoeshine stands in airports and along city streets — in New York City and San Francisco in particular. There used to be a great shoeshine stand just across the street from the side entrance to the St. Francis Hotel in downtown San Fran.
A real professional shoeshine became one of my little luxuries and one that I could truly enjoy after years of shining my own shoes. There is an art to shoe shining that not only includes the waxes and other chemicals needed to achieve maximum shine, but the shiner’s individual artistic flair. I appreciate the workmanship, pride and attention to detail that these professionals put into their work. Day in and day out, these folks consistently deliver a top-quality service.
Several weeks ago, I was in Denver attending the American Academy of Family Physicians national meeting. The Denver airport still has a great shoeshine stand. I, of course, could not resist. So, while marveling at a true master shiner at work, I began to sense a real commonality between the shoe shiner and the work of our team here at Ascend Integrated Media. Like clockwork, day in and day out, our team of journalism, graphic design, digital gurus, production experts and sales pros take pride in their work and deliver high-quality products so consistently you could darn near set your watch by their ability to hit deadlines. Plus, like the best shiners, we’ve been creating custom media products now for decades — more than 29 years.
Like the shoeshine, where the proof of the quality of their work is immediately apparent in the luster of the shoe, our team’s proof of quality lies in the 25 national and international awards we’ve won in the last 12 months. Better yet, our team has been recognized by their peers for writing, reporting, graphic design, website development, mobile app creation and multimedia product creation. These national and international awards are broad in scope, ranging from the prestigious Custom Content Council’s Pearl Awards (three awards) to Graphic Design USA magazine (five awards), American Society of Business Publication Editors’ Azbee Awards (two awards) and the Apex Award of Excellence (two awards), among numerous others.
The loyalty of our many clients — some who have been with us from 10 to 25 years — should be proof enough of the quality of our work. Still, recognition from peers is always a nice validation, much like the generous tip given to a master of shoe shines — once he has admired his reflection in the toe of a shoe.
By: Maria Arnone, Vice President Media Development
Clients ask us often in this brave new electronic world how much communication should be “old school” versus “new media.” Here are 4 important things to keep in mind about your members when building the perfect mix of old and new communications:
1. Content value: Think content before delivery mechanism. Your relationship with your member or client is based on useful information you give them rather than how they’re reading it. The bottom line with any kind of communication is the value in the information — not the package it comes in.
2. Convenience: Your members are part of a changing world. People are getting used to having good content available wherever and however they want it. That might mean at their desk, in a train, or on their living room sofa, and each of those places might mean a distinct delivery mechanism of choice.
3. Print is still powerful: When you’re at an event and you don’t really know where to look, print is still an attention-getter and information-conveyor. Ask anyone who’s struggled to find a specific meeting room, exhibit booth or cocktail party locale, sometimes the most obvious place for the answer is in a printed meeting program or daily newspaper. In this environment, print is eminently viral, too. Did you see that great session? Better not miss tomorrow’s paper, my friend.
4. You’re writing for your newest and future members: If you’re having trouble convincing your board that you need to try some new directions, snap some photos of your newest members in action. You’re not going to turn your back on print, but it’s important for the traditionalists to understand who will fuel the organization in the future.
Having a mix of communications is in vogue, but you need to understand and advocate within your organization the reasons for going multi-platform. Understanding where, why and how your audience consumes the content is key to building a plan that will take your organization forward.
How do you consume content? Think through how you and your colleagues utilize available information sources.
By: Robin Pearson, Director Professional Development and Patient Education
For too long, too many of us in the medical education space (accredited and non-accredited) have focused on getting information out to clinicians — doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. While providing these professionals with important, evidence-based information about gold-standard disease-state management and emerging options for treatment remains critical, we may have been missing a vital cog in the educational spectrum — the patient.
The September 2010 issue of PM360 featured an article that drives home the importance of patient education in the disease-management continuum, emphasizing the value of point-of-care, patient-centered materials, noting that 52 percent of consumers take action when they see an ad at point-of-care. “Taking action” might be defined in a number of ways, the most significant of which may be prompting a dialogue between patient and physician, which may lead to a specific treatment decision. Confirming this idea is a more recent article in Med Ad News just last month, which notes that an increasing effort toward patient education may first affect the patient-physician interaction, with the resulting treatment approach being heavily influenced — and perhaps even changing — as an outcome of patient input.
Savvy bio/pharmaceutical executives, managed care directors and physicians are paying attention to this trend, as indicated by a survey recently completed by Quintiles, noting that “32 percent of bio-harm leaders believe that patients will be very or extremely influential in the marketing success or failure of new drug therapies during the next five years.”
Patients are indeed heavily invested in staying or getting well — 71 percent agree that it’s important to be well-informed about health issues, according to thePM360article. They want to be involved in the decisions about their health care management. That means more education about disease, potential treatments, clinical trials, adherence to treatment, insurance and more. And it means providing that information in a format that is easily accessible, easy to understand and geared toward patients and their caregivers in a way that empowers them to engage in actionable dialogue with their health care providers, creating a partnership between patient and physician. Rather than feel confronted by the “danger” of a little knowledge, physicians are beginning to embrace these better-informed patients — with the average office visit becoming shorter, educated patients can help make those interactions more impactful.
It may require a bit of a learning curve, but it is becoming clear that increasing market share for many biopharmaceutical companies may depend upon providing information to patients at the point-of-care, where and when it is most likely to be acted upon — in the physician’s office. Because that’s really where education matters.
What is your opinion of the better informed patient/doctor relationship?