4 Social Media Examples for Pharmaceutical Marketers

Multiple experts have said it in myriad manners: the pharmaceutical industry has some major social anxiety. With a recent report out on social media adoption among the top 50 global drug makers, the verdict is basically this: with the grey territory of FDA, HIPAA, and D2C advertising regulations, pharmaceutical marketers are hesitant to get off the bleachers and ask their patients to dance.

A look at pharma’s sister industries (healthcare and the sciences) reveals that social media adoption and networking can yield massive ROI while staying compliant—outweighing risk with reward. Not only that, challenger brands in these spaces are harnessing their communities to do some pretty amazing things, including expedite clinical trials, dig through masses of data, and even change industry regulation.

Here are some great examples of effective social media strategy, network implementation, and community engagement from the science and healthcare verticals:

Consolidating the community and crowdfunding R&D

When 18 year-old Josh Sommer founded The Chordoma Foundation in 2007, his goal was to find a cure for his one-in-a-million form of malignant bone cancer. To surmount the seemingly impossible funding barriers for research and development, he realized that social media could help him bring together a disperse, global network of researchers specializing in this rare disease.

Through building a Facebook community dedicated to sharing advancements in chordoma R&D, he brought together researchers, with the ancillary benefit of attracting patients and advocates to the first home on the web for chordoma information and support.

This community raised significant funds for early study, and today, the foundation has a thriving research pipeline—and the 7,000 fan-strong Facebook community helped Sommer complete enrollment for a 2014 clinical trial in just two days.

Opening a two-way conversation, and surpassing expert results

Zooniverse is home to the most popular citizen science community in the world. The first Zooniverse project, Galaxy Zoo, was introduced by researchers at the University of Oxford in 2007 to prompt scientists to classify a mass of astronomical photographs.

Unexpectedly, the launch of the Galaxy Zoo website pulled in citizen participants from around the world within hours of going live—and they accurately classified all million photographs that were part of Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Building off the success of the Galaxy Zoo project, the Zooniverse team expanded their social presence, integrating frequently-updated Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and blog feeds with the site to supply the community with progress updates, assignments, and direct-from-scientist feedback for a growing suite of projects.

Today, Zooniverse has millions of fans active on the Zooniverse channels at any given time, and the advancements in research and discovery from this community continue to be significant—in fact, the Snapshot Serengeti project team just published their first article in the journal Scientific Data<, after thousands of volunteers catalogued millions of images from the Serengeti National Park.

Building your own network, and changing industry policy

Privacy concerns don’t have to be a limitation to social media implementation—especially if you build a proprietary channel, and tier levels of information across commonly used social platforms.

A look at PatientsLikeMe or CrowdMed affirms the power of consolidating communities of patients in pursuit of innovation and support for disease. And by the way, PatientsLikeMe just announced  a research collaboration with the FDA to determine how patient-reported data can help change drug safety regulations.

The moral of the story is this: social media is all about empowering people with relevant information and connection to other members of their tribes, whether patients or professionals. Changing delivery from a one-way directives to two-way conversations is immensely powerful—it can also can be good for business, and affirmational for ethics.

Time to get on the dance floor pharmaceutical marketers
Source: Pinterest

And a note to our friends in pharma: we all want to feel part of something bigger than ourselves—plus, most of us are just waiting to say “yes” when we’re asked onto the dance floor.

To get more information on our work with clients in the healthcare, life sciences, and pharmaceutical verticals, send us an email and lets meet up!

5 ways solar energy companies can crush it with their marketing

Yesterday, I received another direct mail letter from a solar company.

Massachusetts set a record for new solar capacity in 2014, with more strong growth on the way. But with this growth has come increased competition among installers, both commercial and residential.

How can any one solar company use marketing to stand out and capture more of this hot market?

The challenge is daunting because of the nature of solar energy itself:

Nobody owns the sun, and one company’s clean electrons are identical to another’s. Remember that oil companies have spent billions of dollars over a one hundred year period to effectively brand their supposedly unique kind of fuel. Every time we pull into a gas station, we’re making a subconscious decision to choose one brand over another, when the reality is that gas is gas.

But Shell has ‘V Power’!

The solar industry, by comparison, is still relatively new, and many companies are searching for their own version of ‘V Power’.

shell v power - energy marketing

Based on Captains of Industry’s experience in branding and marketing for renewable energy companies, I’ve put together this guide.

NOTE: I’m focusing specifically on Massachusetts because, as you’ll see, the local aspects of solar energy marketing are important, although these tips can be customized for any state.

1. Research the customer’s mindset in each local market.

A lot of companies jump into making direct mail pieces and websites before they really understand who they are talking to, what matters to them, and what they think is true about solar energy.

Many of these beliefs are local in nature.

When my company conducted focus groups of consumers in the Northeast, we found that people thought the solar panels were prohibitively expensive.

They liked the idea of solar, but didn’t want to jump into making a $40,000 investment.

I suspect that research of the California residential market’s consumer mindsets would be very different, because there’s simply more awareness there of the fact that these days, there’s no need to actually purchase the solar panels. All kinds of lease options are available.

But does someone in your target market know this? Maybe not so much.

Understanding your customers’ beliefs and desires, locally, is an essential first step that will lead towards creating your key message.

2. Nail your message.

Ever see an American tourist in Paris speak English louder in the hopes that the French will understand them? That’s the same dynamic employed by most marketers: keep shouting your message and enough people will get it. A better path is creating a message based on what will work with consumers in one local area.

Let’s take my town, Lexington.

I received a mailer from a solar company yesterday with an envelope teaser headline that read, “Use the sun to lower your electric bill.”

First off, the message is generic.

Any solar company could say the exact same thing. But just as important, the message itself didn’t take into account the reality that most residential customers in my town still think they have to make a big up front investment. If a consumer thinks they have to spend a lot of money, then cutting their electric bill as a message isn’t enough. It could take ten to twenty years to get payback, so why do it? Having explanatory copy on a website is one step too far for most consumers: that’s why the key message has to be the first message. It’s the one thing your customer must know in order to drive them to seek out your content.

Here’s an example of a message that would get the attention of someone in my town:

Your Lexington electricity rate jumped 39% in 2014. Here’s how to lower it—without buying solar panels.

So, right off the bat, I know this company is talking directly to me, in my hometown. This feels relevant and timely. This company has done their homework. While a lot of people have experienced sticker shock when they’ve opened their electric bills recently, many are not aware that their rates have in fact gone up this much (it’s crazy, actually). So the message feels startling and gets my attention.

Then they pay off their headline:

Inside this letter is information that can help me save money. Everybody wants to save money. And I won’t have to invest in solar panels? Tell me more.

3. Use valuable content to show your difference.

If all clean electrons are the same, you have to give your brand a halo that helps you be different and more attractive to just the right audience.

But how can you give your brand a halo?

I suggest that you make this difference something other than a 2015 version of ‘V Power’, the standard ad industry gloss that worked in the 20th century.

What works today is to share your company’s values in a way that is genuine, deep, and transparent.

Consumers want to buy from companies who share their beliefs. They want to see your people and what makes them tick. They want to see your vision and mission, not just a piece of junk mail. For example, a solar company could state their mission as “to lower electric costs for every American.”

The company can live this mission by (as just one idea): having a customer referral program based on providing free solar power to low income people in underserved communities.

When a current customer in Lexington refers a neighbor to the solar company, the company makes a contribution towards a fund that goes towards installing free solar panels for a family that’s having a hard time making ends meet. The company’s website can share a whole range of content that shows how this mission is being carried out in Massachusetts, including videos of the families participating in the program.

Suddenly, what at first appears to be a generic electron becomes something much greater: the embodiment of a mission.

That’s today’s ‘V Power’.

4. Stop selling and start educating.

Before consumers buy, they seek knowledge.

They ask their friends, and they go on the web to do a search. But most solar companies are still in the business of selling, forgetting that there is a big knowledge vacuum. So when a web search happens, what comes up (more often than not) are sales offers.

This is the Speaking-English-Louder-in-Paris (SELP) phenomenon, updated for Google.

When I did a web search just now for “Solar Lexington”, not one residential solar company appears on page one of search results.

Not a single one.

This is a huge opportunity for a solar company to create and publish content that appeals to people in their local communities.

Picture this: an eBook (basically a .pdf file with copy, illustrations and web links), that’s customized for my hometown, with timely, in-depth information on my solar options.

Sure, it’s published by a solar installer, and has their contact information on it, but there’s nothing “salesy” about it.

The knowledge is provided as a service.

And by the way, there’s a mention in the back of the book about a solar company’s referral program to help poor families get free electric power.

This is the company I would choose to work with, versus the one that just sent one more generic sales flyer to my house. Content of this nature can be published without the cost of postal mailings, or the cost of paid ads.

And, it has the added benefit of actually working.

5. Ride the locavore movement.

My hometown, like an increasing number of similar towns in Massachusetts, is into the idea of locally grown fruits and vegetables. There’s actually a weekly farmers’ market down the street from my house.

I love it.

My wife and I get a chance to not only buy amazing produce, but we get to meet the farmers and artisans as well – and they are great people. This puts a face on each company, a personality that matters when we’re choosing what to buy.

You know what else is local? Clean energy.

Solar companies should consider setting up their own booths at local farmers markets, positioning their brand of solar as another kind of local, green, affordable produce.

Call it “fresh energy.”

This creates a close link to the values of customers who want to save money and help the environment at the same time. And it demonstrates that the solar company understands how to make solar work in their town, and that they care about the local environment.

This is how change happens.

In Closing…

These five tips are by no means meant to be comprehensive. There are many other important ways for solar companies to stand out. Some companies are already rising to the top due to their sheer size and marketing muscle, like SunRun and SolarCity.

But, there’s still a tremendous opportunity for challenger brands who want to think about marketing differently to take on the giants and win.

If you want to learn more on renewable energy marketing: download Captains of Industry’s free e-book – Branding & Marketing for Clean Energy Companies.

The Energy Marketing Agencies List

energy marketing agencies - captains of industryThe energy landscape—particularly in the Unites States—is going through a profound shift. This requires companies to communicate differently.

Enter an energy marketing agency.

Over the past five years we saw a rise in smart meter implementation across the country, wind and solar energy are now at a place where they’re financially self-sustaining, and we’re beginning to see growth in the use of electric cars and advanced battery practices. With all this change there’s an increased need for smart, sophisticated marketing and communications to speak to energy consumers, utility managers, project developers or financiers.

There are some great energy marketing agencies out there to help you do this.

I’ve complied a list of all the energy sector communications specialists I know of and admire in the US.

Truth in advertising disclaimer: one of these companies is my own (Captains of Industry), but the reality is that ALL of the agencies I’ve listed here bring something different to the table and are worthy of your consideration as you start to look for a partner to help you communicate effectively.

If you’re a company in the energy sector looking for communications or marketing help, here’s some places you can go.

Energy Marketing Agencies

  • Captains of Industry
    Captains of Industry (that’s us!) is a creative content marketing firm that works with challenger brands. We specialize in energy sector communications. We’ve done successful marketing for companies focusing on wind, solar, demand response, energy consulting, electric cars, battery technology and more. Check our more details around our energy sector marketing case studies.
  • The McDonnell Group
    As the leading integrated marketing firm for the energy industry, we provide a full range of marketing services designed to build the value of your company. With actionable research, powerful strategy, dynamic branding, and creative marketing and communications, we can help you build an integrated, results-driven marketing program to know more, do more, and be more.
  • FleishmanHillard
    Secure. Sustainable. Affordable. Society increasingly demands energy that is secure, sustainable and affordable. FleishmanHillard can help energy clients manage stakeholder expectations created by these often competing demands. FleishmanHillard’s global energy and utilities team provides the counsel today’s organizations need to successfully operate in an environment demanding transparency and high levels of accountability.
  • Antenna Group
    Antenna is a full-service, strategic communications firm specialized in emerging and established energy technology and high technology companies. Widely recognized within media, financial and industry circles as the go-to firm for public relations.
  • The Energy Agency
    As the first firm focused exclusively on the energy industry, we develop creative marketing solutions to facilitate meaningful brand interaction.
  • Edelman
    In 1952, Dan Edelman planted the seed for a new kind of company – one that would redefine the role of public relations. Sixty years later, we continue to push the boundaries of what PR can do. Grounded by our core values and strengthened by our independence, we help clients communicate, engage and build relationships with their stakeholders.
  • Shelton Group
    Are you trying to build a brand around energy responsibility and sustainability? Shelton Group understands your marketing challenges like no other agency. We’re the nation’s leading marketing communications firm focused exclusively on energy and the environment – you’re the reason we exist.
  • Saxum
    Our experienced energy communication strategists understand what it takes to break through. We can help your organization inspire change among internal stakeholders, build awareness and demand for products and services, navigate the unique pressures of investor communications and win the hearts and minds of stakeholders in critical areas of operation.
  • M/C/C
    We’ve provided complete, integrated marketing communication services both for energy companies and for clients needing to reach energy companies, in areas ranging from traditional energy resources to today’s clean energy options.
  • The Merritt Group
    The energy industry will continue to evolve and therefore businesses must be ready to clearly articulate their vision for the industry and differentiate their position in the marketplace. Merritt Group provides a voice for innovative energy companies. We take complex technologies and services and make them accessible to the consumers, investors and policy makers that organizations must communicate with on a daily basis.

If you’re working with other marketing or communications firms in the energy sector that you think are great let me know, share in the comments section, and we’ll add them to the list!

Substantive Content: Responses over comments

The comments section of any blog or online magazine is a great place to share perspectives or reactions to an author’s content. But too often, I find comments sections either overpopulated with drivel, covered in spam, or totally unengaging. Comments were once a great measure of a piece of substantive content’s success or popularity; now I feel like comments sections are in desperate need of an update. Clearly, the team at Medium.com feels the same way, and I admire the platform that they’ve developed to address the problem.

Medium, an online forum/magazine focused on the social sector, has a proprietary commenting platform they call ‘Responses’. ‘Responses’ offers a fresh take on how to bring comments back into the realm of the substantive, going one step further than the traditional comments section in the footer by republishing someone’s response as a standalone article on their own stream. Additionally, responses only populate in the footer of the original article if that article’s author recommends them.

Two big benefits come out of this approach. First, it encourages people to submit more meaningful content and thought-provoking responses to articles. Knowing that your two-line quip or superficial gab won’t make the queue unless the publisher finds it helpful encourages more attentive writing (this also aligns with the Medium.com brand and mission). Second, when there is more thoughtful commenting, Medium turns those responses into contextualized content through republishing. Responses, republished as articles, will increase engagement with the platform and help populate a regular stream of new, compelling content.

I’m excited to see how ‘Responses’ plays out over time—whether it proves a promising approach to stopping the onslaught of annoying comments. And if you haven’t heard about Medium.com, I encourage you to check it out. It’s a slick platform where anyone can write articles or create their own stream. Plus, I hear the experience of writing and publishing is top-notch.

If you want to get more people to see your video, think like an animal.

One of the most interesting lessons from the book Switch, by the Heath brothers – which, admittedly, I am obsessed with – is that we humans have a built-in tendency to follow the behaviors of others in our group. We are more comfortable taking actions when we know that other people are doing the same thing. TV producers having been using this fact for decades. Take the sitcom, for example. If we were in a live studio audience, we’d follow the behavior of others in the crowd by laughing along with the group. But when we watch a sitcom at home we are often alone, without a group to follow behaviorally. So producers built in fabricated crowd laughter that automatically triggers our urge to laugh along.

Which begs the question, how do we follow the herd in the age of YouTube, when so much video entertainment does not include a laugh track – and we are even more often a singular audience watching video at our desks (when we should be working)? YouTube and other channels wisely include the number of “likes” and views per video. They also make it easy to search for the most popular videos in a given category. We don’t have fake laughter to tell us what’s funny, but the herd nevertheless guides our viewing choices. To experience this, check out Battle at Kruger, arguably the most fascinating wildlife video ever captured on camera – and by a couple that just happened to be in the right place at the right time while on a safari. It has over seventy-five million views. We humans quite literally “follow the herd” when we watch this video.

We think of our species as smarter than all others. But we are all animals nevertheless. So, when you’re making a film you want your target audience to see, think about how to create the perception that others in the same herd are heading in the same direction. One way to do this is to recruit a thought leader in a category, or celebrity, that your target group is used to following (perhaps quite literally following on Twitter). The people you want to reach will be far more likely to follow along. It’s our nature.

Deepwater Wind VS. Cape Wind: The Power of Wind Company Branding

Cape Wind has been stalled for years and recently lost its contracts with utilities, a potential end to their dream of being (as their site currently claims) “America’s first offshore wind farm.” Deepwater Wind, however, recently got a green light on a major financing deal and will begin construction in 2015. Deepwater will in fact be America’s first offshore wind farm.

Why was one wind company brand successful while the other may fail? While many factors were at play, it’s clear to me that the power of wind company branding played a significant role. Full disclosure: my company created the brand for Deepwater Wind. I point this out not to boast, but to share with you some insights gleaned from the brand’s development that can help other companies be successful, whether they be in clean energy, automotive, or dog food.

First, take a look at the names and logos of each company. The Cape Wind name includes “Cape.” What does that name evoke? Sunny days at the beach. Relaxing by the water. Beautiful scenery. Now add “Wind” to “Cape.” Just the juxtaposition of the two implies the intrusion of wind turbines into our mental image of the Cape. The Cape Wind logo rubs beach sand into the wound by including a graphic of a big wind turbine. The project itself, which has been planned for Nantucket sound, hit a firewall of protest from day one, which continued for over a decade. Lawsuit after lawsuit, delay after delay. Why? The name and logo and the project had one thing in common: visibility. The turbines would be highly visible, and most people – rightly or wrongly – don’t find the turbines to be an appealing addition to the skyline.

Now look at the Deepwater Wind name and logo. The name “Deepwater” came about because the company had a technology that allowed them to erect turbines farther from shore, in deep water, where they would be less visible. “Deepwater” does not conjure images of a national treasure. It conveys a sense of, well, deep water. Places farther from shore. When you site a turbine in deep water farther off the coast, they tend to be in places with the wind is stronger, allowing for greater energy to be gathered efficiently and at lower cost. And most importantly, they’re less visible from shore. Note that there is no wind turbine in the Deepwater Wind logo. The word “wind” says enough, without emphasizing the one thing most people don’t like about wind energy – the big turbines. Note also the logo is in various shades of blue, a color that instills a sense of financial solidity and trust. In addition, the font we used is bold, conveying power. The upturned lines above the word “wind” convey a range of positive associations, such as waves cresting, and the rush of wind across the deep ocean waters. Everything about the Deepwater Wind name and logo mark makes you feel good about them. This is no accident. It’s by design.

Customers will only say “yes” to your company if they like you. To make this happen, your brand has to be engineered with as much thought and care as your technology. And the essential value of the brand has to run like an electric current through your whole company and culture. A great brand isn’t a label, it’s a true and compelling representation of what your company believes and values right down to your core.

To be clear, Deepwater Wind is a success many years in the making; they did a lot of things right, and their brand was only one of the things that played a role in their success. But what’s significant is that it was one of the first things they did right. They were able to build on this solid foundation to tell their story to the world and become a trailblazer in American clean energy.

If you’re interested in more information about wind company branding, check out our Branding & Marketing for Renewable Energy Companies eBook.

Content Marketing Tips for Clean Energy Marketing Segmentation Campaigns

Big data-fueled market segmentation is by no means new marketing strategy, but it is increasingly being exploited in sectors beyond consumer goods (e.g. clean energy marketing) to serve up targeted messages and content to niche audiences. Despite this positive shift towards brands providing more than coupons and product ads to consumers, the majority of segmentation infrastructures are still reliant on push marketing tricks—not adapted to a new era where people are savvy information seekers, resistant to being interrupted with generic directives. As content marketers, market segmentation is key to all of our content development efforts. But we do it—and think of it—differently.

Though there is always economy of scale to consider, our version of “market segmentation” is best represented in targeted message roadmaps and executions that help our clean energy clients reach their hardest-to-reach microswaths not by interruption, but by influence; providing material that is tailored to their distinct needs and designed to ameliorate their crucial pain points, wherever they are at on their conversion journeys. Our approach isn’t reliant on algorithmic wizardry, but rather on deeper storytelling—fostering authentic client-to-consumer conversations with distinct value adds, whether for wind and solar developers who are simultaneously cultivating investors while trying to get community buy in, or for utilities trying to incentivize energy efficiency updates for niche demographics. After all, the common push for reach and frequency only works if you are shooting in the loose direction of awareness and have low expectations. If you’re a clean energy brand seeking to move markets and change the world, you are going to need a tack that runs deeper than data to ensure that the right customers return to your brand, again and again.

Culled from our work with clients across the sector, here are some of our tips for crafting effective segmented messages and campaigns.

1) Make room for the “why”—even when you’re selling the “what”. In clean energy marketing, it’s tempting to talk to your end users in terms of what you do (whether that’s providing cost-par clean power, harvesting the inexhaustible resources overhead, or designing better panels and turbines) in order to highlight your competitive value proposition. But emphasizing the economics of renewables or technology innovations fails to recognize the bigger picture that fuels brand loyalty among niches of consumers—hungrier than ever for the big “why” behind “what” you do. As we were helping one of our wind clients articulate the value of their smaller, more efficient turbines among community audiences, we took their product-focused position on an infographic journey, matching needs and pain points to community health-focused messages to “bring clean, affordable energy home”. The result was that our client was able to sell out of their product for the subsequent year.

2) Harness good, ol’ fashioned, word-of-mouth sharing. Especially in the epoch of cross-channel campaigns, there’s significant power in the human distribution engine. When your brand is trying to reach valuable players with messages to augment awareness or close sales, it’s key to have representative stakeholders on your team—empowered, they will evangelize on your behalf to their peers (who are disproportionately likely to be your microaudiences, according to numerous social studies in “sorting”). Having an external advisory group who helped vet, refine, and share targeted brand messages amongst their networks was a crucial component in how we helped an energy consulting firm become the global thought leader among audiences interested in the smart grid (and grow their business by 15%) in one year.

3) The platform should serve the message (not the other way around). As new platforms and channels for sharing information are launched by the day, it’s easy to get swept up in snake oil promises of deeper engagement and more conversions with less effort. In our experience, the best way to increase conversions among niche audiences is to stay platform-agnostic and reallocate focus on getting the message right first—then determining the platform which has the lowest barrier for entry for its delivery. For a client looking to move the political gridlock in Washington around climate change, we crafted a strategy to entice a moderate-to-conservative set of global business leaders to rally behind tackling climate change. This came to life framed as “one of America’s greatest economic opportunities in the 21st century (and simply the right thing to do)”, served up in declaration form on our client’s website for quick and easy sign-ons. The result was that the declaration was signed by CEOs at over 800 global brands—plus consumers around the world—and made it to Washington, where President Obama referenced it to underscore the business community’s support of new rules to limit carbon pollution nationwide.

Want to learn more about how we help our clients in the clean energy space reach and influence niche audiences? Visit http://www.captainsofindustry.com/energy-marketing-services/.

Healthcare marketing based on great content versus interruption: a better way to connect with patients.

While healthcare marketing still primarily employs ads that blare from every possible source of paid media, the tendency of today’s consumers to tune out these ads is only accelerating. When people are “targeted” with ads, they take evasive action. Instead, information seekers want to know how to deal with a disease (their own or a loved ones), find a cure, or simply stay healthy. So of course they do a Google search. Based on Captains of Industry’s experience, here are five ways to look differently at content marketing for healthcare in order to raise your brand’s visibility and build a deeper connection with customers.

Focus on quality first. How quickly and easily a healthcare brand can be found via a search has less to do with SEO, and more to do with the actual quality of the content offered – especially since Google has once again changed their search algorithms to favor real quality and depth of knowledge versus the junk often spewed from content farms.

Put yourself in the patients’ shoes. If you were a patient, what would you really want to know? Avoid the hard sell completely and focus on providing a genuinely useful depth of information on the medical condition that relates specifically to your product or service. The Mayo clinic does a nice job with their prostate cancer information center (part of a range of resources for patients dealing with various conditions). Their site provides a comprehensive resource of helpful information on symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, preparing for your appointment, tests and diagnosis, treatments and drugs, alternative medicine, coping and support, and prevention. It’s a lot to read through, but wouldn’t you want all that and even more if you were diagnosed with prostate cancer? It’s not a coincidence that the Mayo clinic was the only hospital on page one of my Google search for “prostate cancer.

Tell the right story (and sometimes let it find you).  Marketing firms tend to gush about storytelling as if it had just been invented. Of course you need storytelling, but you first have to find the right story – the one that will resonate with the people who you most want to connect with. This process typically starts with a research project that determines the mindset of customers, and how your product or service can solve their problem. I’ve seen countless reports and spreadsheets that deliver tons of details and data on customers; gathering all this is wise, and it never hurts to know more. But often these processes miss something incredibly valuable that can’t be envisioned through a database: magic. Magic happens when you listen very, very carefully and look for unexpected twists and turns as the story develops. For example, when Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Pulitzer-prize winning historian, set out to write a the definitive biography of Abraham Lincoln, her research led her to a whole new and far more fascinating story about the Team of Rivals who made up Lincoln’s cabinet and helped him win the Civil War. Goodwin’s ability to listen, and let the story find her, helped her create a classic. This approach has many applications in healthcare. For example, when Captains sought to create a campaign focused on a product that made it easy for patients to remember to take their medications, we found the story was far more compelling when told from the perspective of a patient’s granddaughter. The story was about her and how much she cared for her grandpa, versus a story about forcing gramps to take his pills. You’ll know when the right story has found you when you can’t stop thinking about it. If the story is that memorable to you, it will be memorable to your customers.

Create a content publishing calendar that maps to your customers’ journey of understanding. The key is to provide your customers with access to the right pieces of content at the right times, based on where they are in their level of understanding. You have to meet customesr where they are, and gradually over time provide them with knowledge-building tools that will help them reach the conclusion that your product or service is of value to them. For example, let’s say your company makes a drug for pediatric asthma patients. You already have a sales force that’s providing doctors with brochures and other sales tools, but you know that parents are actively searching for better solutions as well. So, first, you have to know what level of knowledge most parents have when they first learn their child suffers from asthma. They’re likely at a very early stage on their journey, and lack the basic knowledge about the various treatment options. For this audience, at this stage of learning, you might create an e-book or video primer for parents that offers basic education on asthma, its causes, and typical treatments. Other parents will already have this base level of knowledge, and they should have their own place on the content roadmap, and unique content tailored to their level of understanding. A good content roadmap will be very comprehensive, and cover the full spectrum of phases each parent will go through as they learn to provide their child with the best care possible. This roadmap should then be put in a calendar – month by month, quarter by quarter – with content launched in a way that’s coordinated and integrated with your other marketing activities.

To sum up, it’s time for healthcare marketing to move past short, catchy headlines and ads that interrupt, and instead rely on great content that today’s information seekers are hungry for.

Delivering Content Through Enchanted Objects

When we (or anyone in the space) talks about content marketing or delivering content to your audience, there’s an implicit assumption that the vast majority of that content will be served up and consumed on a screen—PC, laptop, tablet, phone. But what about via the Internet of Things?

Okay, you say. I’ve heard of this “Internet of Things” thing.  But what the heck is it? David Rose can tell you. See his interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show:

David coined the term “enchanted objects” a couple of years back to encapsulate any device that uses technology to communicate with us in a less computer-y way. Need a reminder to take your medication? How about an Internet-enabled cap on the bottle that glows, then beeps, and if you still forget, texts you—or a family member? It’s called GloCaps and it’s been around for 5+ years. Certainly devices from Nest and others fall under this category.

And by the way—it’s all content. Content that is designed to be effective, meet us where we are, seamlessly integrate into our existing lives, encourage action. In a way that feels natural, organic, not techy. And especially not spammy. Which should be the goal of any good content marketer. Delivering content via the appropriate platform or channel is important here.

The more we fit content seamlessly into our audience’s lives, the better it is for everyone. Are my laptop, tablet, and smartphone part of my life? Absolutely. But those are three objects out of the hundreds (or more) I interact with every day. Content beyond-the-screen is something we’re starting to think about, and I am fascinated to see what others are beginning to do out there. A lot of this, I suspect, will initially be translations of traditional content applied to new media (that “media” being objects of all kinds). Yep, we’ll probably be seeing screens on everything for a while. But then the innovations will come. And I think there is a huge opportunity for marketers (and communicators of all kinds) to deliver content that will be appreciated via these enchanted objects.

At the end of the day, of course, it’s about telling a great story, being relevant, being welcomed because your content is desirable. When I chatted with David this morning (via text of course) we talked about the delicious irony that the enchanted object that brought him to Jon Stewart was a book. Printed on paper. Somewhere up there, Gutenberg is smiling.

The Beauty of a Simple Idea

We’ve all seen Super Bowl commercials with amazing productions that cost millions to make. The actors, set design, props, locations, and a thousand other things can get very expensive very fast, but many big name marketers have forked over that money in the hopes that their spot will break through the clutter and interrupt their audience enough so they get noticed. There is another path. Having a simple, beautiful idea means you can strip away the artifice and tell your story intimately. A couple recent cases of this  – one emotional and one comedic – demonstrate just how far an approach can go.


The Always #Like a Girl video from Procter & Gamble has stacked up over 20 million views on YouTube. Watch it and you’ll see why. It’s all shot on one set, and the people are real. They’re asked, if you were throwing a ball ‘like a girl’ what would you do? Each person (men, women, girls) acts out throwing a ball in an overly affected and stereotypical girlish fashion.  We learn that women’s self-confidence plummets during puberty as these stereotypes chip away at their perceptions of themselves. The video builds as we see a new, confident image of women emerge, until doing anything ‘like a girl’ is a badge of honor. Simple.

And then there’s Stephen Merchant for Newcastle Brown Ale. All the actor does is sit down and talk to the camera, and riff on how great America would be if England had won the Revolutionary War. Merchant channels a bit of John Cleese here and it’s great fun.


No stunt work, car crashes or special effects could improve on these beautifully simple ideas. They cost money to make, but not Super Bowl spot money, and they’re getting seen by lots of people – without the ridiculous cost of the media buy. For marketers, the lesson is as simple as this new brand of video. Invest in your creative ideas first and foremost. If more extensive production is required to tell the story, then you can go there. But if you can tell a great story without moving the camera, you’ll move your audience instead.