Disruptive Marketing Approach

Healthcare Marketing Performance and Disruptive Marketing

Is Disruptive Marketing The Right Question

There’s a trending question being asked to advertising agencies among healthcare marketing team’s today – what disruptive marketing tactics have you executed? But is this really the right question to be asking? And are we all on the same page about what this term really means?

Disruptive Innovation

“Disruptive innovation,” a term coined by Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen in 1997, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves upmarket, eventually displacing established competitors. A few examples include Netflix, video streaming and OTT devices, Wikipedia and Skype.

The goal of creating disruptive change has trickled down through nearly every aspect of today’s business environment. In fact, the term is so widespread that like a bad game of telephone, “disruption” has taken on a much looser meaning and is starting to lose its real meaning. Which results in questions like what disruptive marketing tactics has your agency executed?

Disruption Marketing Or Meaningful Marketing

Consider this scenario. You don’t have the benefit of huge ad spend. You’re also a marketer with a “relatively” lower interest product or service that isn’t top of mind day in and day out. And maybe your numbers aren’t trending the way you think they should. Forgetting that there are likely underlying reasons for your performance (e.g. you’ve been in and out of the market, your creative process holds you back from producing really creative work, etc.), you make the call to the advertising agency for more creative “disruption marketing.”

But is this really the right ask. These “disruptive marketing” tactics can cause you to veer off and deliver short-term, one-off creativity, at the expense of long-term brand-building work. It’s also unlikely that these new “disruptive marketing” promises can actually be delivered inside the organization. Which causes its own disruption.

It’s meaningful marketing that helps move the needle for both companies (in creating growth) and customers (in creating value). Because meaningful marketing goes beyond interruption to engage and move people forward in their lives, to create stronger bonds between brands and consumers. Disruption doesn’t necessarily equate to this. It might, according to the definition of disrupt – interrupt (an event, activity, or process) by causing a disturbance or problem. But it’s highly unlikely that it will (also according to dictionary definition) drastically alter or destroy the structure of (something) to the good of your marketing and customers.

Technology’s Contribution

Meaningful marketing is greatly aided through data, analytics and digital technology. Reference our post about brand-building and AI here. Data gives us a specific and current view into understanding the consumer better and allows us to create an extremely personalized (and more engaging) user experience, one that they have already come to expect. This means that personalization is becoming more of a marketing necessity now and must be baked into a brand’s marketing strategy in order to not lose potential customers and fall behind competitors.

Three examples of Meaningful Marketing

Warby Parker

Navigate to Warby Parker’s website and you’re greeted with this message…buying eyewear should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket. Glasses, sunglasses, and contacts — we’ve got your eyes covered.  One of the ways they deliver on this brand promise is by offering prospective customers a free, five-day Home Try-On program to help you pick your perfect frames.

You can choose five frames (which are sent with non-prescription lenses) to try on at home for a five-day period. It’s an experience that delivers functional value, emotional value and life-changing value. So yea, I’d say this leaves us feeling happy. It also demonstrates a really tight brand strategy in terms of how to compete (which markets to serve, which customers to serve, which business model to deliver value).

warby parker offer


Casper set out to help people be their best: “We believe sleep is the superpower that charges everything people do.” It’s a narrow enough Big Energizing Idea to quickly understand, yet broad enough to allow Casper to expand beyond mattresses and pillows and into adjacent “get a good night’s sleep” segments. Opening a Casper mattress is a “meaningful” experience in itself (reference this atypical quote – after maneuvering it into its final position Catherine cut open the sealed bag. The intake of air started to hiss as the mattress slowly inflated. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was actually quite excited at this).

But then the company adds a few extra delighting touches that are often shared in social media. For example, each mattress is accompanied by a handwritten note referencing ’80’s rock ballad puns. Customers also receive a sleep kit filled with calm-inducing elements like eye pillows and sleepy time tea. Like Warby Parker, another example of checking the value boxes of functional, emotional and life-changing – and devising new combinations of value that it can deliver.

Casper sleep brand

casper hand-written notes

American Express

Many companies talk about the meaningful “communities” they’re creating online and want to tout the inherent value of the “online conversation.”  American Express puts its money where its mouth is by leveraging the value provided by industry experts on its OPEN web site. OPEN is a collaborative website, on which American Express invites guest authors from a variety of sectors to share their business knowledge and wisdom, as well as offering a package of services, rewards, and perks to business cardholders. It’s American Express’ contribution to help small businesses “turn opportunity into growth.”  The result is a content-rich mega-site with industry leaders contributing expert articles that provide meaningful value.

american express open

Meaningful Marketing Keeps Consumers Coming Back

There’s so much noise in the marketplace today between increasingly more competitive alternatives and messaging. Rising above it requires nothing less than doing the hard work of creating meaningful marketing that helps better customer’s lives. Marketing that helps to tip the scales in your brand’s favor when someone is weighing perceived value relative to price.

To create this work, it needs to deliver beyond functional value and emotional value – but life-changing value that helps people significantly improve their lives. And in the best of cases, delivers the kind of social impact that positively changes the world. In general, the more elements of value provided, the greater customers’ loyalty and the higher a company’s sustained revenue growth.

Since 1999. Trajectory has helped healthcare and wellness brands rise above the noise to create future value and growth. Reach out for a conversation.
About Trajectory

In 2021, Trajectory was acquired by GoMo Health, a digital health leader applying behavioral science to create evidence-based engagement solutions that meet people where they are in their daily lives. Our coming together represents a multi-disciplined engagement solution that helps clients across the health and wellness continuum build deeper and more sustainable relationships and outcomes.

Top 100 Healthcare Marketing Blog

Top 100 healthcare marketing blog