How to Fight Brand Fatigue as We Head Into Wave 2

How to Fight Brand Fatigue as We Head Into Wave 2

Some headlines need little explanation.  Unfortunately, this one requires no mention of “pandemic,” or “COVID,” or the new surge that was predicted and is presently occurring across the U.S.  Nor, does it need to rehash how tired marketers are, both personally and professionally, in dealing with “pandemic fatigue.” Marketing professionals are facing another epidemic; “brand fatigue.”  Many are tired of working from home, an endless loop of Zoom calls, and constantly trying to think of new, better ways their brands can succeed in this new environment.  Yes, it’s exhausting! But this is when brands have to stand up to meet the challenge.  When their loyal consumers rely on them most.  Where trust and dependability matter more than ever before. So, how can you avoid brand fatigue in the next few months and step up to the new challenges that will ultimately impact your planning?  Here is a checklist to add to your Zoom brainstorming session that will hopefully spark some renewed energy and enthusiasm: Product/Service Innovation – If there’s ever a time to think “outside the box,” it’s now. During Wave 1, we saw restaurants and retailers rise to the challenge with “touch-free,  curbside services.”  Established brands like Peloton implemented free trials of their on-line classes to raise brand awareness and create new customer opportunities.  Worked pretty well for them as their stock is up nearly five times since the beginning of the year and the demand for product is outweighing supply. How can your product or service innovate the way it’s delivered or accessed?  We’ve seen countless healthcare organizations update their tele-medicine services to provide virtual appointments and phone counseling to patients in all categories as one example. Review Brand Operations – From hours of operation to how your brand promise is delivered upon, marketers have to put themselves in the consumers seat and think through every detail of access, service delivery, and (virtual) customer experience. Consumers are more likely to cancel their appointments and put off purchasing during the pandemic and marketers have to find new ways to engage and convert them.  A new customer journey mapping exercise reflecting current times might be a highly worthwhile exercise. Online Communications – Your website and other online communications are vital now and into the foreseeable future. From a brand standpoint, it’s critical to assess how your site was used during Wave 1 and the improvements you’ll want or need make in the next surge. Now’s the time to audit your content strategy and develop a response plan to address new situations that will arise in your organization during Wave 2.  Check speed, loading time, mobile responsiveness and other technical elements of your site to ensure a positive user experience. Messaging and Advertising – Wave 1 focused on key phrases such as “we’re all in this together” and “we’re here for you.” As we enter Wave 2, brands will need to be more competitive in order to generate much needed revenue, while maintaining the empathy and unity of earlier messaging – no easy task.  New creative work should be reflective of our culture; social distancing, mask wearing, small group gatherings, and diversity. Progressive Insurance has always done an amazing job of going with the “Flo.”  Their advertising is entertaining, warm, and is always culturally relevant. Television viewership during the pandemic has been way up and research has indicated that consumers like seeing (good) commercials.  According to studies, consumers cite a sense of comfort and entertainment from commercials; providing some relief from otherwise bleak and overwhelming news. Social Media Channels – Similar to your website, having a proactive plan in place for your social media channels will serve you and your followers well during Wave 2. Anticipate what could have done better in Wave 1 and make those adjustments now. Be prepared to address important questions such as: How will you respond to customer questions or complaints about COVID or service delivery?  What tips for safety and well-being will you offer?  Where should consumers turn in for more information?  As before, put your customer hat on and fully anticipate the kinds of content that would be most helpful and insightful to them. Crisis Communications – For as much good your organization will do during Wave 2, there are pretty good odds that something will also go array. If you don’t already have a crisis plan in place, get on it.  If you have one,  revisit it and make sure it’s up to date and accurate with regards to the current crisis and other potential scenarios. Internal Communications – The most important audience to communicate with during this pandemic is your employees. From topics related to safety procedures in place for their protection, to new services and ideas that you’re offering customers, it’s imperative your stakeholders know first and know what to expect. The employee mindset is fragile right now.  People want to know whether your organization will survive the storm and, frankly, if they’ll have a job.  While you can’t overpromise, you can certainly assure them that you’re doing all you can to be successful and proactive during the ongoing crisis.  All your brand planning will create positive perceptions among employees that your organization is staying and thinking current. Corporate Social Responsibility – Customers have an affinity and loyalty for companies that give back. Especially during times of crises.  During Wave 1, we witnessed many examples of brands coming together for the greater good and taking care of our most vulnerable citizens.  A social responsibility plan typically pays big dividends in the form of sales, employee retention, and long-term customer loyalty. CRM – Surprisingly, studies showed that, during Wave 1, consumers were more open to receiving direct personalized communications such as emails, texts, and direct mail. In fact, these were the top-rated channels for reaching consumers.  During Wave 2, work closely within your CRM system to get personal and direct with your customers and help them schedule their services and convert to purchases.  This is especially important in healthcare, where patients...
Can Your Brand Ever Return to “Normal?”

Can Your Brand Ever Return to “Normal?”

We are almost six months into this pandemic, and many marketers are reading, writing, and answering loads of questions about the return to brand “normalcy.”  Personally, I haven’t heard the same response given to that question in the many webinars, zoom presentations, and podcasts in which I’ve either participated or tuned in. Most thought leaders agree, however, that there is a four-phased approach to “re-opening” brands. The four phases include Response, Recovery, Restoration, and Revitalize.  A quick recap of each: Phase 1 Response – Brands focused on safety, gratitude, and reassurance. “We are all in this together” was heard around the world.  And for healthcare organizations, it was all about the “heroes.” Phase 2 Recovery – Again, new safety protocols were ‘front and center’ and brands were actively changing operations to meet the needs of a very scared public. From home delivery to curbside pick-up, every organization had to rethink their product and service delivery.  In healthcare, existing services such as telehealth and online communications took on new interest and meaning. Phase 3 Restoration – This is the phase most brand planners believe we are in now. There’s a major push toward “back to business” and revenue generation to make up for lost sales and income.  Healthcare organizations are very vocal about encouraging consumers and patients to get the care they need and not to put off important procedures. Phase 4 Revitalization – No matter where you think we are on the “re-opening” plan, I’m sure you’d agree we are nowhere near this phase. We’ll know it when we see a return to long-term positioning strategies and the “why.”  Right now, we’re still in the who, what, when, where, and how strategies. According to Klein & Partners (Wave 3) ongoing tracking study conducted throughout the pandemic, most consumers would agree that we are in Phase 3.  In their opinion, we are in the middle of the curve and still a few months out for activities to “return to normal.”  In fact, according to many respondents, they believe some social behaviors will never return to normal. The online study also suggests that, for hospitals and other health organizations, their actions (in Phase 1 and 2) have created new, positive feelings towards their brands (20%, Wave 3).  One area in which hospitals and health systems are not scoring well, according to the study, is leveraging their online presence (social media and website).  Approximately 10%, or less in the case of social media, visit these sites and only 3% find them most useful.  Where are people turning?  The CDC website and other government sources.  Really, a lost opportunity! My thought is that most healthcare organizations are using these highly valuable tools. They are used to reinforce the same safety protocols that are offered in every retail, restaurant, and other service establishment – and not providing new, relevant content!  As a result, consumers are tuning out and turning elsewhere. As we enter Phase 4 Revitalization, brands will need to take more than COVID into account.  Other thunder in the perfect storm centers around other cultural issues such as marches, protests, riots, politics, race relations – to name a few!  Brands have to reflect these issues to be timely, relevant and meaningful. So, back to the question at hand:  Can your brand ever return to “normal?”  Keep this in mind;  great brands always adapt to the current culture and are highly relevant in people’s lives.  They are never stagnant and constantly evolve.  And they never “return” to anything; they always create something new. That said, your brand should not attempt to return to where it was.  That was then, this is now.  Instead, it needs to reshape and reconnect with your customer base in exciting ways that meet them where they are now – emotionally, physically, and economically.  So don’t worry about going back, only focus on going forward in innovative, fresh ways.  As Whoopi Goldberg (among others) is quoted as saying, “normal is only a setting on a washing machine.”  It’s time to create a new cycle that gives your brand strategy a clean and fresh start. Click here to learn more about Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy and how to keep your brand...
8 Important Shifts That Can Keep Your Brand Relevant and Meaningful in Uncertain Times

8 Important Shifts That Can Keep Your Brand Relevant and Meaningful in Uncertain Times

Brands continue to play an important role in people’s lives, and studies show that during a crisis – like now – they offer reassurance and a sense of comfort. From car manufacturers to restaurants, healthcare systems to hotels, brands are shifting their messaging to offer readiness, reassurance, safety, and even new ideas on delivering their products and services.  It’s amazing how quickly they’ve been able to turnaround their messaging and production strategies!  Already, there are best practices being established and amplified throughout the branding and advertising industries. The following are strategies you can act on quickly to keep your brand relevant and meaningful during these stressful, game-changing times: 1. Communicate in an empathetic tone Start by acknowledging that your audience is experiencing losses and lifestyle changes in ways never felt before. Great brands have relationships with their consumers, and now is the time to communicate from the heart. 2. Production values can be simple There isn’t the time or the luxury of resources to pour into new brand executions.  The idea is to connect quickly with your customers and let them know you’re there for them in whatever ways are most meaningful.   There have been excellent new commercials featuring infographics, re-purposed video content, and simple interview formats. 3. Corporate/social responsibility is every brand’s responsibility If there’s ever a good time to be a great corporate citizen, it’s now. Informing people of how your brand is supporting social distancing, its employees, and safety regulations is paramount to being relevant.  Creatively, it can also be unique; McDonald’s, Coke, and others are among those finding interesting ways to convey social responsibilities. 4. A special “shout out” to your employees For essential businesses, especially in healthcare, a little recognition goes a long way!  There are real heroes out there, working tirelessly and risking their lives, and they should be acknowledged. 5. Shift engagement to today’s channels It’s rare that consumers are (almost) always at home and resorting to more traditional media vehicles and channels. News ratings are exploding (of course) and readership of social media – even email – is up as well.  There are many details to provide in terms of how your organization and brand is responding to the current situation and there’s a good chance they’re being read. 6. Educate your audience around operations that keep them safe Safety is near and dear to everyone. Whether you’re setting up testing sites outside your hospital or providing contact-less interactions in drive-thru’s and grocery stores, it’s imperative to communicate the operational changes your products and services are making to keep your customer’s as safe as possible.  Tele-health has never been more popular and will create a new normal when this storm clears. 7. Embrace remote collaboration and virtual “events” Your brand can still engage its customer’s – you just have to do it on their turf, not yours. It’s amazing how many great, creative ways there are to interact with consumers using videos, apps, and constant updates to your website. 8. Your website has never been more important With “extra” time and the need for up-to-date information on your brand – especially among service organizations – your web traffic must be exploding. Make sure it’s up-to-date, accurate, and you’re letting your customers know how you’re dealing with this crisis.   When challenged, marketing leaders and brand innovators rise above with creative solutions. This current situation just faces us to think differently, talk empathetically, and connect in new ways.  Keep innovating and be safe! Click here to learn more about Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy and how to keep your brand...
Want to Add Value to Your Medical Society Members . . . Brand Them!

Want to Add Value to Your Medical Society Members . . . Brand Them!

Medical societies and associations exist to add value to their members through education, networking and providing other resources to support personal and professional growth. This is why professionals join and pay their annual membership fees. As competition in every medical field and specialty heats up, members are demanding more from society leadership; specifically marketing to consumers and referral sources to help them distinguish their expertise and build their practice (aka “Branding”). Often, patients (and other professionals) are confused over what different medical specialists do and branding your members will help provide clarity and growth. This is where medical societies can add value. From our experience, branding members and their specialty has become one of the top requests from society leaderships. So, where do you start? Start with research, to gain insight into the following: Vision – where do your members see themselves now and in the future? Equity – what are the unique capabilities and greatest benefits your members bring to patient care? Perceptions – how do patients, referral sources and other providers, hospital administrators and payors perceive your members? Access – what are the patient/referral pathways for your members? This will help you determine the audiences for your message. Communication – how do your target audiences keep up on medical and peer information? Once you understand where your members want to go and challenges that may be involved in getting them there, you can start to develop a unique brand strategy – position and value proposition – for them. A strong brand for your medical society members will: Differentiate them in a crowded and confusing marketplace Elevate their specialty in the healthcare landscape Resonate with target audiences Align with the society’s and member’s strategic goals and plans Be sustainable This last point is where many medical societies fall off – they budget and strategize for how to build their member’s brand, but fail to develop the methodologies to sustain and carry the initiative forward. Building a strong brand for your members is never one and done.  Be sure to nurture and support it over time. Once you have established a unique position, value proposition and the creative messaging to bring your medical society member’s “story” to market, your society’s efforts will inspire and fuel preference (and business) for your members – now that’s adding value! To learn more about how Springboard has helped medical societies and associations add value for their medical society members, visit www.springboardbrand.com or email me at...
5 Facts About Millennial Physicians | Medical Association Branding

5 Facts About Millennial Physicians | Medical Association Branding

By the year 2025, millennials will constitute more than 75% of the global workforce. New doctors, too, are joining the healthcare world from this generation – one that has different perspectives and expectations about the workplace. Whether you are recruiting millennial physicians for a new job or to join a medical association, it’s a good idea to know about this generation of physicians: Millennial physicians live on social media. Millennials were raised on computers and live on social media; so it’s no surprise that you can reach this generation on various social media platforms.  It’s important your organization has an online presence; think beyond Facebook and LinkedIn to other platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter and SnapChat. They are tech savvy with tools and software. Growing up in the digital era, these doctors are more comfortable using EHRs and other online resources.  They grew up with “Alexa” and “Siri,” and are always “Googling” information.  Also, millennial physicians source online medical journals and publications more frequently than their older peers. Millennials want to have a voice and make a difference. While millennial physicians are interested in leadership positions and advancing their careers, they also want to do good.  They believe in improving the health among patients and the community – to help change the world!  These doctors are mission-driven and want to make an impact on the lives of others. Embracing a work-life balance is crucial. In addition to millennial physicians wanting opportunities to advance their careers, they also want a life.  These physicians  value their time with friends and family.  Flexible scheduling can also aid in a balanced work-life environment to help reduce burnout and increase career satisfaction. There is an increase in diverse and female millennial physicians. The future of medicine is looking increasingly diverse and female.  Women account for more than 61% of doctors under the age of 35 and 44% of U.S. medical school graduates in 2018 were of a racial minority background.   Be sure to understand what millennial physicians’ value in their careers and the appropriate channels to reach them for job opportunities or to join a medical association.  For additional questions or help on marketing to millennial physicians, contact Springboard Brand & Creative...
“Cultural Brand Performance” – A New Indicator of Sales Growth and Consumer Engagement

“Cultural Brand Performance” – A New Indicator of Sales Growth and Consumer Engagement

There have been important, game-changing strategies associated with marketing performance over the years.  For example, “value proposition and differentiation,” “brand positioning,” and “corporate social responsibility.”  Each has evolved from the previous and all have demonstrated revenue growth. The latest idea being integrated into brand and marketing strategies is that of cultural relevance.  Simply (easier said than done), integrating what’s most relevant and important in our culture, social consciousness, and personal responsibilities with brand personas and communications strategies…no easy task. Take a look at a couple recent failed attempts of seeking cultural relevance: Peloton lost almost a $1 Billion in market value as a result of backlash from a TV commercial perceived as depicting men encouraging women to stay in shape. Hallmark pulled, then re-instated, a “wedding” commercial for Zola featuring the marriage of two women. Cultural amplification forced their turnaround in thinking. Watch any video today, on cable, network, or social media, and you’ll see brands seeking that fine balance with cultural relevance.  Whether it’s interfaith and interracial relationships, political or satirical points-of-view, or gender defining/neutralizing, how a brand performs and reflects cultural relevance has a direct and significant impact on its bottom-line.  I refer to this as “Cultural Brand Performance,” a new indicator and strategy for sales growth and consumer engagement. More fuel for this perspective:  in September, Merriam-Webster added the singular pronoun “they,” used to refer to “a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary,” or “to a person whose gender is unknown or is intentionally not revealed.” Earlier this month, the publication went a step further and chose the pronoun as its “Word of the Year.” Cultural Brand Performance is a new, important strategic consideration in today’s marketplace.   Finding the right equation in your market, while sometimes ‘like walking on eggshells’, is key to a brand’s long-term success.  More than ever, it’s paramount to stay on top of what’s trending culturally in your marketplace.  While I have never been a big proponent of creative testing, it seems to be worth every penny.  And can save hundreds of millions. Just ask...
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