A blog exploring pharmaceutical relationship marketing, emarketing and innovation with a focus on rare disorders.
The convergence of rare disease, digital communications, and pharmaceutical marketing communications

The Power of a Singular Message

Posted by | 5:03am on Saturday, February 21, 2009
Stop, maybe?

clearly define our focused message for each chapter in the story we want to communicate. Then we need to hold on to this focus like a pit-bull (lipstick is optional). 

Heidi Schoeneck, Executive Creative Director at Siren Interactive, contributes this essay:

Stop. It’s a simple word, but I think too often we undervalue its effectiveness. Take this video for instance. A client sent it to me awhile back. I mention that so you don’t think I am one of those “agency-is-always-right” proponents. I think we all contribute to these mistakes. We start with a big idea and somehow compromise on that message. It happens with the best of intentions; when trying to be more inclusive, act on new opportunities to act upon, or when trying to make the piece work harder. But ultimately it can run the same result as this video— become convoluted, and your message is lost.

Focus your Message.

We all know the ol’ adage that less is more. This is especially true in the over-choiced life of our consumers. Anyone that has visited a grocery store lately will know this to be true. When grocery shopping the other day I found there were 10 different types of Cherrios, and over 250 types of shampoo. (Simply visit walmart.com and search shampoo, you get 269 choices!) It is our job as marketers to simplify the message to the most relevant information and deliver it in the right way at the right time. Marketing communications should be more like telling a story than sending out an alarm. It should tell a focused tale that builds through each step of the customer’s journey, but never screamed all at once.

To that point, there are 3 best practices I consistently refer too…

  1. Focus it. If we had to fit the message on a napkin (no cheating! Writing really small and opening the napkin does not count!), what would be the ONE key takeaway? Or, what is the singular objective of the entire communication?
  2. Map it. What is the customer journey? (What triggers are happening along this path? And is the information he/she is seeking at each of these triggers?)
  3. Act on it. At each point along this journey, what is the ONE action we want her/him to take?

If we review every initiative against this screen, we can clearly define our focused message for each chapter in the story we want to communicate. Then we need to hold on to this focus like a pit-bull (lipstick is optional).

Protect the Message.

As marketers it is our job to wrap our arms around this singular message and guard it. It is easy to become distracted or to give up. It is important to pick our battles, but we should pick the ones that will keep to the overall goal of creating a singular message that will resonate for our audience. If we continually support the message from a customer point of view, it should be hard to defeat.

And then test, test, test!

“What?!”, you say. “A creative person talking about testing?” Shocking, I know. Believe me, I am the first person to advocate for following your instincts when it comes to marketing. In fact, in reading the book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Paperback) by Malcolm Gladwell you will find a newfound appreciation for your gut decisions. However, when you are focused in your message you do not have the support of saying the same thing lots of ways in the hopes one will resonate (the buckshot approach). So continually test and refine your communication. There is a lot of power in the singular message, so don’t empower the wrong one.

How does This Apply when Marketing for Rare Disorders?

Now, getting down to brass tacks… We know when marketing to patients and physicians dealing with rare disorders that information is power. As Wendy wrote in her recent blog on Knowledge Symmetry the equation flops and the patients often times knows more than the physicians. So this makes streamlining the information that much more important. We need to understand why they are searching for information, what is driving this need, and how to give them the answer in the right way and at the time they need it. The two super tools to accomplish this are Search and Segmenting. By orienting our informational story around the patient’s journey we are more likely to give them the answer they are looking for at the time they are looking for it. Or better yet— project a little ahead and arm them with the answer before they even ask for it! To me, this seems to be the true way to add value to marketing in the world or rare disorders.

I would love to know what you think. Does this ring true to you? Have you had times when you didn’t even recognize a message (much like the Stop Sign example)? How do you think this applies to your world?

(Image courtesy of laffy4k via Flickr)

About Heidi Schoeneck

View other posts from Heidi

Siren Interactive
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