Healthcare Marketing: Keep Your Ads Simple

Advertising creative is changing and becoming much more simple and clean.  It’s the product of a consumer driven marketplace.  

Before the 1960’s, creative consisted of pages filled with type and graphics. Dark, serif-faced ads with little white space.  Along came the 60’s and all that changed.  Ads became simple, clean, with little copy and lots of white space.  The “Think Small” ad for Volkswagen was a perfect example of such.  And the change was basically art-driven.  The German-based Bauhaus design movement affected advertising like it did art, architecture, interior design and graphic design ad led to simple and clean characteristics.

The 80’s and 90’s brought more complex ads, with more copy and certainly more graphics.  But now we are reverting back to the simple clean look of the 60’s.  But this time it’s not art-driven.  It’s consumer driven.  Tony Mikes of Second Wind wrote concerning this shift in his “Consider This” blog.  He points out that back in the 60’s marketers controlled the process of marketing. Consumers believed whatever the marketer said, especially when backed up with clever creative to reinforce the message.

But today, marketers don’t control the process.  Consumers do. Consumers are knowledgeable, have access and can state their opinions and thoughts on any of numerous social networking sites. Peer-to-peer reality is an important part of the marketing process.  Consumers depend on comments, ratings and feedback from other consumers to make purchase decisions.

And this has influenced advertising.  Now instead of lots of graphics and lots of copy, the emphasis is on honesty and clarity.  Ads are simple and clean.  No need trying to overwhelm the consumer. It’s more about communicating a simple but pertinent benefit in a very personal approach.  Engaging the consumer in a very attractive but simple manner.

Perfect examples are the ads for iPod and iPhone. Extremely simple and direct.  Just communicating a benefit and lifestyle.  And two other classic examples that use simple clean approaches are the iPad and it’s older competitor, Kindle.  Little or no copy. Very visual but incredibly clean with engaging music. It’s all about honesty and simplicity.

So as we engage in healthcare marketing, the creative should be about transparency and honesty and simplicity.  Astute media buying, cost containment and strategic planning will remain important.  But ideas, creative execution, clear copy points and perhaps most importantly truth and honesty will reign supreme. And they should.


Healthcare Marketing: Have We Lost Our Marketing Way?

Today’s emphasis on social media, analytics and ROI has taken the place of the “Big Idea.”  And brands are weaker because of it.

When you scan the topics of marketing conventions, examined the titles of webinars that are available everyday and study what marketing subjects are most tweeted, you will find the marketing landscape is covered and dominated by new processes and platforms.   All the talk is about social media, digital platforms, analytics, market segmentation and targeting, lead generation and tracking and ROI.   Where is the discussion about  “big ideas”?  About creativity?  About speaking uniquely to the consumers’ hearts and minds?

Now all of these things are important and create exciting opportunities.  But none of them really matter absent the right, break-through idea.   Where is today’s equivalent of Volkswagen’s “Think Small”, DeBeers’ “Diamonds Are Forever”, “The Absolut Bottle” or Avis’ “We Try Harder?”   Oh there are currently some great campaigns but it seems we have too often substituted creativity for things we can compute and measure.

Brands benefit from savvy marketing tactics and superior media planning but great brands are built with great ideas.  Sure there are some new powerful media platforms but they cannot make a bad idea good.  Or a build a great brand from mediocre concepts. All the best new communication platforms and the analytics that go with them can’t capture the heart and soul of a brand.  Or the critical position in the consumers’ minds.

Maybe our first question should be “what” and not “how”.  An architect conceives a great structure before deciding the tools and materials to use.  An artist has an idea for a subject before deciding on the techniques and colors. And a composer hears a grand symphony in his mind before deciding the instruments to use.   And as marketers, we should have a great concept, a big idea, before deciding where to place it.

New tactics and processes can make us more efficient but great brands they do not make.  Great brands come from breakthrough ideasMarketing should be less about analytics and more about inspiration. Less about measured results and more about creativity.   After all, great brands are created and transformed by big ideas.