Marketing Trends for Your Brand Plan 2019

Healthcare marketing must-haves for your 2019 brand planning


Content is King and engagement is its throne

Although brand-centric messaging and having content about products easily discoverable is critical to patient, caregiver, and physician engagement, brands need to create content that can add value and be worth their time in consuming. Brands are competing on a playing field where their strength and trust from their audience is typically limited to product specifics and safety information.

Solution: Your brand should be identifying how to add value outside of typical brand safety, efficacy, and dosing information. Think about how to make that information more meaningful, more relevant, and more timely.

Strategy: Create messages and communication that can support product information. Develop content that supports a broader patient and physician journey. Consider behavior-based CRM programs, partner with influencers, and extend communication outside of owned platforms with advocacy and community based interactions.

Digital Disruptors are at the gates and gearing to disrupt

CVS and Amazon are taking action to change the healthcare market in the US. Healthcare is capturing the attention of not just headline-worthy giants, but from every category of investor and entrepreneur. There are many market-factors influencing this growth in interest, but what needs to be clear for brand leadership is that having share of voice is getting tougher and tougher. Issues ranging from patients and caregivers paying out of pocket—and shopping around—to innovation coming from a new breed of fast-moving competitor. The market disruption is here and the disruptors are not playing by the traditional playbook.

Solution: Think differently about your audience and the value your brand is brining to the table: Where can you become a brand that has an bound with your audience? How can you solve problems for them? Think faster and take more risks in communication and channels. Social media was once the “big disruption”, but those taboos are all gone-where can your brand participate that is both true to the character of your product and is also taking advantage of existing audience behavior?

Strategy: Use data and insights to help drive decision making and make calculated changes to your approach. Identify how you will measure success and how you can use these metrics to make your product “disruption-proof”. Be prepared to make more changes: Competitors are not looking for a single-solution move, competition as well as your audience is always moving and evolving, so leverage your analytics and success metrics to help define your roadmap in innovation.

Data is everywhere, but how do we use it?

It seems as though 2017 was the year of big data. As marketers we are awash in data from our sales, market, rep-teams, marketing campaigns, and a myriad of other sources. In what’s feels to many to be choice paralyses, 2018 is going to be the year for brand leadership to refine there data strategies and focus on key sets of data.

Solution: Focus on how data can work for you by focusing on insights. What brand leadership is searching for is not more data, but relevant insights to drive their business—the more proprietary, the better.

Strategy: Work on honing a solution that can address your business questions. Modern data solutions should work in your service carrying the burden of segmentation, market growth, identifying influencers, and specific needs of the modern brand communicator.

Voice interfaces

Amazon Echo, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant are becoming “at the ready” solutions to do everything from managing check-up reminders to answering key healthcare questions. Where does your brand fit into a world where a single search result if read back to a patient asking about their dosing regimen or how physicians are interacting with patient records via voice commands? 2018 is going to see broadening popularity for voice as a platform. Both responsive experiences and intervention support are going to see advances as patients and physicians alike interact with a new generation of popular devices.

Solution: Identify who your audience is and what their likely utility voice interfaces will be. For many consumers, their first engagement has already happened whether oN their phone or via exposure to a connected home device. Providing utility that is valuable and low-friction will yield success. Look for opportunities in your existing patient journey to add whimsy and surprise.

Strategy: Leverage assistant technologies in the home to augment experiences without being intrusive. How can you alert a patient, help with communication with a caregiver, or align physician instructions with at-home behaviors. The ideal space to make use of an assistant is being “just in time” and helpful.

Health video content

Video still represents a huge opportunity for healthcare brands. There are few creating content, and fewer that are true authorities for many brand subject matter. YouTube is still the true leader in this space, but there are many more platforms and solutions in paid, earned, and owned media.

Solution: Create meaningful content that addresses key audience needs. For patients and caregivers, video will be a strong platform to explain clinical information or telegraph empathetic dialogue for patients. For physicians, clearly presented and engaging videos will galvanize relationships with the brand.

Strategy: Create budgets for video programs that address audience needs. Make them accessible and that can help with health literacy for target populations. Don’t over produce videos if the audience needs stackable content “in the moment”. Update videos more frequently and produce them appropriately for specific channels (ie: add subtitles for social video content). By developing a steady cadence of video content, you will have a steady stream of material to amortize and promote in multiple channels. Well titled and tagged do content is still hard-to-come-by online, so these efforts will help boost search strategies and be the foundation for social CRM programs.

Apps are going to have a renaissance

The solve-all “there’s an App for that” heyday is over and what was the reprise of every marketing firm addressing the popularity of the iPhone. Apps are going to make a come-back. Not the promoted single app from the Apple AppStore or Google Play, but via progressive web apps. A new category of application meets mobile (and some desktop) users with extended utility such as alerts, notifications, App-like interfaces, increased speed, and “deep-linking” to create less friction in the user experience.

Solution: Look for opportunities to enhance experiences for mobile users in specific areas of focus: Does your brand have a calculator, frequently accessed listings, a forum module, or telemedicine approach? These solutions, among many others can evolve a user searching for information into a valued engagement by a frequent user.

Strategy: Begin building progressive app solutions for high-value content that can play a frequent role or can be updated remotely on the fly. A platform investment combined with strong content, search strategies, or a CRM program can greatly change physician, caregiver, and patient engagement around key content areas and points of differentiation. Audit your digital content and assess the strategic role of content for your audiences.

The Rise of the CRM Bot

Bots continue to be broadly misunderstood by marketers worldwide. Artificial Intelligence, in its many, many forms is on the tips of everyone’s lips. I believe we are passing into the early days of leveraging bots (and the intelligence that drives them) to address communication needs. The early adopters can quickly take a seat of authority. As healthcare communicators, we will be reflecting on these days the same as we had in optimizing for mobile when smart phones came to maturity.

Solution: Identify where bots can address customer needs and trial a solution: call-centers, customer service interactions, channel monitoring, and even addressing access and clinical issues for patients is an ideal juncture in an audience journey to deploy a bot effectively.

Strategy:  Minimize risk by testing in environments already deficient and without a strong solution. Lengthening customer service windows by immediately addressing a portion of audience questions via text-support or a call center is a great test bed for a program. Identify specific success metrics such as “speed to resolution”, “reduced cost per call” or “higher satisfaction in support” are excellent metrics aligned with the examples here.