Do these comments sound familiar? “We could feature an African American family in this maternity ad.” “Let’s get these service line brochures translated into Spanish.” “How can we speak to our Asian American community?”
Just a few years ago, comments like these typically were the
extent of the conversations hospital marketers were having about multicultural marketing.
But simply including images of diverse families in your banner ads and offering
translated collateral is no longer enough. Cultural differences are about more
than skin color and language. They’re about perceptions, beliefs, customs and
With the plethora of media options, marketing channels and consumer touch points, integration is essential for maximizing marketing success.
In the not too distant past, marketers had a rather small number of options for its marketing message. TV, radio, print and outdoor was about it. Then traditional advertising mediums began to offer new alternatives. Cable television, satellite radio and custom direct marketing.
But then the web showed up. And the choices became seemingly endless:
And the list could go on and on. There is strength in this enormous growth of marketing options. There are new ways to reach consumers, we can target them more narrowly (demographically, sociographically, geographically and psychographically), we can sometimes measure effectiveness more effectively and we can be much more creative with our media options.
But it creates fragmentation. Fragmentation of our brand’s message. And that is not a good thing. The challenge is to integrate our message over all our marketing and messaging platforms and options. Yes it includes, but certainly not limited to using a common tagline and a single color pallet and enforcing a strict and consistent corporate identity.
As Steve McKee, president of McKee Wallwork wrote in an article for Bloomberg Businessweek, “Integration means communicating a consistent identity from message to message, and medium to medium, and (more importantly) delivering consistently on that identity. It requires not only the identification of a powerful, unifying strategy and compelling voice for your brand, but the discipline to roll it into every aspect of your organization—from advertising to sales, customer service to customer relationship management programs (and beyond). It’s not for the faint of heart”.
McKee is correct and it’s not easy. In fact it can be an enormous task to integrate the brand message over all messaging channels both externally and internally. And perhaps it can never be fully accomplished. But as healthcare marketers our task is to try. Make it a priority. It’s difficult enough to build a strong healthy brand, but to not have consistent integration of our brand message, voice and tone, makes it even more difficult and perhaps unlikely.
It requires knowing our brand. Knowing who we are, our brand personality and brand attributes. And trying as hard as we can to be consistent over all channels and mediums. Those healthcare organizations that do it the best will be the most successful in this age of hyper-fragmentation.