The healthcare marketplace is complex and demanding. The path from product development to product sales can take a variety of routes depending upon the specific market segment. However, there is a logic to the progression, which we have tried to summarize below.
In the beginning was the Word. And it was good. Star copywriters wrote rhapsodies of elegant prose about their clients’ products and services and some people even read that prose. (People had a lot more time in those days.) Early pioneers like Charles Bates and John Powers embraced an advertising approach that focused on giving the reader a reason why they should buy their client’s product rather than somebody else’s product. This approach was fully exploited by John E. Kennedy, who called it “salesmanship in print.” He codified the approach in a book entitled “Reason Why Advertising,” and salesmanship in print has gone by that name ever since.
Advertising no longer consists primarily of words on paper. However, we believe that the underlying concept of basing marketing decisions on a deep understanding of the audience and respect for their decision-making process is even more relevant today than it was when men wearing fat ties and fedoras wrote out long ads on yellow pads with #2 pencils. Today’s marketing world is filled with colorful graphics, clever slogans, and high fashion. However, the simple and expensive reality is that pretty pictures and glib headlines are not functional substitutes for clear thinking and finely tuned strategy. Stunning creative is only brilliant when it serves legitimate marketing objectives.
Reason Why Marketing is the modern progeny of Kennedy’s brainchild. At SNA, we have expanded the scope and doubled-up on the rigor of the original concept. Applied to the entire spectrum of marketing options, it demands clear thinking and finely tuned strategy for every detail of the marketing and communications program. It demands accountability and a reasonable objective for every dollar a client spends on the marketing enterprise.
Applied to advertising and other communications vehicles, Reason Why Marketing is based on proven marketing and psychological principles. The approach focuses on eliciting a specific response—the often-neglected “call to action.” The call to action is not simply “buy the product.” It is a specific action you want the prospective customer to take. Reason Why Marketing is designed to persuade the customer to take a specific action that moves him or her along the path to a sale or reinforces continued use of the product. The specific action may be “Visit our booth at the ACOG Conference.” It may be “Ask your doctor if Viagra is right for you.” For existing customers, it could be “Learn to use your EpiPen self-injector correctly.”
Our strategic recommendations focus on identifying the specific call to action for every marketing vehicle and developing an effective Reason Why the audience should take that action. Our creative executions focus on delivering the Reason Why with power, simplicity, immediacy, and relevance.
Reason Why Marketing is not easy to do. It requires hard work and focused thinking on the part of both the agency and the client. Even agencies that talk about it usually fall back on the “unique selling proposition” and other less-disciplined approaches when it comes time to produce advertising and marketing materials. We try really hard not to let ourselves—or our clients—fall into that trap. We don’t do it to torture our clients. We do it because Reason Why Marketing typically produces results substantially beyond conventional communications strategies—and producing results is why we’re all here in the first place.
Buggy Whips and Other Runaway Success Stories
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is a sign of insanity. Yet many companies who do not consider themselves insane do exactly that. There are several reasons why they do it:
“We’ve always done it that way.”
“Our competitors are doing it.”
“That’s the way things are done in our industry.”
When the automobile began to disrupt the transportation market, it is almost certain more than one venerable buggy whip manufacturer maintained that, “The world will always need a good buggy whip.” Where are they today?
By now, you are probably saying to yourself, “This doesn’t apply to us. We don’t operate that way.”
Are you sure?
When was the last time you did a market audit to find out how your industry has changed over the past five years and where it is going?
When was the last time you did a thorough analysis of what your competitors are doing to undermine your market share?
When was the last time you checked to find out if you were still relevant to the best emerging customers in your market sector?
When was the last time you revised your branding, your positioning, your business plan, and your marketing plan to make sure you would be relevant in the future?
True, these are hard questions. Probing. Aggressive. And necessary.
We ask our clients questions like these every day. Not because we want them to be uncomfortable, but because we want them to be successful.
We call ourselves “The Reason Why Agency.” There is a reason why we do that.
It’s because of two cliches:
“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably wind up someplace else.”
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”
Buggy whip manufacturers got into trouble because they ignored these cliches. They didn’t know where they were going because the world was changing in ways they failed to recognize. So where they thought they were going simply ceased to exist. They failed to plan for the future because they failed to recognize that it was going to be very different from the past. So they kept doing what they had always done until nobody cared any more.
In other words, they did not have a legitimate Reason Why behind every action they took. As a result, many of their actions were random or based on a false reality—two more faces of insanity.
Fortunately, there is an effective prophylactic. It’s called “Reason Why Marketing.”
Welcome to the dispensary.