Healthcare Marketing: When “Big Data” is Not So Big

All the consumer information that is available to us cannot take the place of the “Big Idea.”

Big data in HealthcareBig data is the BIG deal these days.   Big data is the term used for the tremendous amount of information available through the monitoring of consumers as they search online, purchase online, pay for products and services with credit cards and provide information at the point of purchase.  The amount of data is almost endless and marketers are accessing it to understand when and how to market to their target audience.

Healthcare marketing is no exception.  Even with the HIPPA restrictions, the amount of data available from our own patients, data collected from health agencies and data that can be purchased from third parties, there is a plethora of information now at the fingertips of healthcare marketers.  And there are companies that can help us mine and manage that data.  So indeed it is the “big data” because it helps us market to a specific audience and then measure just about anything to determine effectiveness, rate of response and even ROI.

I’m certainly in favor of as much information as possible.  The more data the more precise and on-target healthcare marketing can be.  I’m indeed interested in determining ROI of healthcare marketing expenditures.  But, and that is a big BUT, we can become so enamored and focused on the big data that we sacrifice the “big idea.”  Data without a strategic concept and execution is just big data.  In marketing, it’s still about the big idea.  The concept that resonates with the consumer.  The idea that creates, builds and enhances a brand.  The idea and execution that builds an affinity with the brand and creates long-term loyalty.  Too much of big data marketing is about acquiring an instant sale and realizing a measurable and acceptable ROI.  But it fails to create a brand identity and brand value.

It’s akin to retail stores putting their entire effort into sales promotion because it creates instant results and a measurable ROI with little regard for the brand.  And as result, they are only as good or successful as their next sale.  A very short sided view of marketing because it creates no brand loyalty.   The same is true in healthcare marketing.  To rely too heavily on big data, you are only as good as your ability to mine data, interpret it and use it to direct market to a niche.  You’re only as good as your next targeted mailing.

It is said Steve Jobs never paid much interest to market research but rather built one of the strongest brands on earth based on his gut and his own creativity and the creativity of his agency.  I would not suggest all healthcare marketers should go that route but it does make the point that there should be balance between big data and the big idea.

Big data can help us understand the marketplace and our current and prospective customers but it’s the big idea that plant and positions our brand in their minds so they know us, like us, want to do business with us and become loyal to us.

It’s not “Big Data” versus the “Big Idea.”  It’s how we can use both to effectively market our healthcare organization.  It’s how we can find a balance of the two to create responses to our targeted messages but also build a strong and enduring brand.

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