Aligning wellness brand strategy and digital marketing
Brand Strategy and Digital Marketing Alignment
As consumer behavior shifts even more rapidly to online channels in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the race is on among health and wellness marketing teams to engage today’s connected consumers through digital marketing. But given the breakneck speed at which marketing teams are moving, is the critical foundation of brand strategy being pushed to the side in favor of accelerated digital transformation and digital marketing tactics?
The combination of increased attention to our health and wellness (both physical, mental and spiritual) and the near-constant connection to our devices, creates a unique opportunity for organizations across the health and wellness continuum to differentiate themselves with a new value proposition for their digital marketing platforms. But brand strategy needs to lead the effort.
Navigating Unprecedented Change
COVID-19 has led many businesses across the health and wellness continuum who were not prepared for their consumer’s increased migration to digital channels – from health systems and hospitals, physician and medical practices, consumer products companies to medical products and services – to back-burner brand-led business decision-making to keep up with the sudden burst of consumer change and disruption.
Instead, digital marketing instantly became the main topic of conversation for health and wellness marketing teams as they looked to address (rightfully so) short-term needs. In some cases, marketing team members may not be able to point to the strategy behind their actions, but shiny new things are nice to talk about. And they keep you “current” with peers.
But critical to growing a thriving business is the ability to effectively apply the digital tools that are most relevant to customers, your industry, and the unique growth challenges of the business – in ways that are most aligned with your brand strategy.
Brand Strategy First
A compelling brand story, clear positioning and supporting organization-wide messaging have always been important requisites for building a high-valued business. Because behind every great business is a great brand idea. But particularly in these unprecedented times, when marketing teams need to be laser-sharp to cut through the noise, apprehension and distraction, marketing that leads with random digital tactics is a waste of time and precious resources. It might buy you some time and some short-term hits, but not long-term relationships.
The danger marketing leaders must avoid is becoming what MIT and Capgemini refer to in their Digital Transformation Report as “digital fashionistas” in their zeal to participate in important digital trends and their fear of being left behind if they don’t act immediately. The applications for digital customer interaction are so broad and so diverse that novices risk letting their enthusiasm for the latest data, the most talked-about digital trends, and the most heavily boosted new technologies drive their investment decisions.
When Digital Marketing Succeeds
Digital marketing succeeds when it puts people first—and last. Everything begins and ends with understanding customer lifestyles, their values, what’s important to them and how you map against them; and then thinking about competitors, and where do the opportunities exist to surpass them. As an example, think about social media. How many marketing teams have really isolated the main “strategic” driver for their content and postings? Are they keeping up with the latest trends, rather than being driven by tangible evidence of business results?
Consider that all competitors can deploy the same digital marketing tactics of building online engagement, streamlining patient communications, deploying telehealth solutions, transacting digitally, etc. Given the above, the only way for your voice to cut through is for your organization brand idea to sit on top of these functional and increasingly expected benefits – so you deliver emotional needs that consumers love so much that it not only pulls them towards you but they feel compelled to tell others.
Playbook for Melding Brand Strategy and Digital Marketing
This is indeed a rare time. And never before, from a marketing standpoint, has the digital universe been so fundamental to how a brand delivers on its unique brand promise. The key is to become consumer-centric, while being brand-led and technologically inspired.
Step one is creating the necessary brand foundation. A compelling and distinguishing brand story. A clear sense of purpose inspired by your brand story. Clearly articulated positioning and messaging matrix to ensure consistency across audiences and channels.
Only with this foundation can you then build a differentiating and coherent digital marketing strategy that:
- brings together requisite marketing, design and technology teams to create the right balance between consumer needs, brand experience and the technology that enables it.
- delivers the easiest on-brand experience possible; along with the brand hero moments that shape the distinctive experiences that matter to your customers and also deliver the greatest short- and long-term commercial impact.
- relates in as open and honest (transparent) fashion as possible, as consumers desperately seek authenticity (and trust) from the companies they do business with
- particularly important today amidst all that’s going on in society, acts with empathy; understanding and putting customer needs and preferences first, letting them know that the organization cares
Leading With A Clear Brand Idea
While new digital marketing channels open up exciting and potentially profitable ways for companies to engage with their more connected consumers, the risk of so much time, effort and energy being exerted on digital channel selection and execution is that the fundamentals of brand strategy are being neglected. But a clear brand idea is more important than ever today, to help orchestrate the growing number of touch points and agencies delivering a brand over multiple channels. At the same time, this is also important given the broader role a brand plays in people’s lives and society; and reflects their growing desire among consumers to learn more about the companies behind the brands they buy.
To ultimately differentiate with digital, you need to look holistically at your organization’s complete ecosystem, encompassing brand, services, people and technology.
Reach out for a risk-free consultation about reigniting your brand and business.Since 1999, our New Jersey marketing agency Trajectory has worked across the healthcare and wellness continuum – helping brands rise above the noise by crafting and aligning story, culture, strategy, design, communication and digital experience.