Big Data for healthcare marketing

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.

Healthcare Marketing: Forget the Tech and Focus on the Idea

160353810Consumers aren’t moved by all the data we can use to find and use to communicate with them.  Instead they still want to be moved. They want emotional connection.

This blog  was actually borrowed from comments made by Procter & Gamble Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard as he spoke to the 4As annual conference.  I used it because I think he’s onto something.

More and more we are being driven by data.  We have so much at our disposal.  No wonder it’s referred to a “Big Data.”  And marketing professionals, including those in healthcare, are making decisions and developing marketing plans based on the data.  But too many times I’m afraid that leads to creative that is mediocre at best.  We run the risk of being devoid of the big idea that connects rationally and emotionally with the consumer.

Data can help avoid risk or help improve our odds.  Data can provide insight or sometimes confusion.  But data doesn’t tell you to put an actor around a group of kids and interview them (AT&T), or develop a campaign around the line “The man your man could smell like” (Old Spice).  Procter and Gamble’s “Moms have the best Jobs” television spot was not inspired by data.  And neither was “Just Do It,” “Got Milk,” “Think Differently,” or “Think Small.”

Consumers are moved by emotions.  Brands connect with consumers with emotionAnd that’s no truer than in healthcare marketing. In a world where we have so many ways and so much power to connect with consumers we cannot just pour our message into as many channels as possible.  That’s just noise.  It’s the power of an idea that separates you from the numbness.

Christoph Becker, writing for Adweek put it very well when he stated, “For an idea to have value in the world of marketing communications it must make you feel; it should provoke laughter, touch a nerve and create excitement for a brand. There should be generosity of spirit in what we do. Even if we have messages for the head, we should always seek to gain entry through the heart. To be humanly relevant our work should be founded on emotion.

He continued, “the challenge is to remember this truth: our laughing, crying, loving, loathing, silly, serious emotional minds are always in charge. This is something the most successful—and iconic—businesses understand instinctively.”

As healthcare marketers we have so much information at our disposal.  And we should use it to sharpen our focus and hone our efforts.  Yet never forsaking the pursuit of that emotional connection that far exceeds ordinary communication with consumers.

I will conclude with Becker’s final comments,

“There has never been a better time to reach our customers, but we have a choice. We can use all the technology and channels at our disposal merely to amplify our messages to the point of noise. Or we can use those gifts to give life and purpose and never-ending expansiveness to our ideas, to reach people in ways that matter, to ignite emotions.  That’s my dream.”