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2008: Actionable Transformation

By Lindsay Resnick

Three important themes are influencing health care marketing in 2008–customer narrowcasting, Big Truth messaging and new media. Addressing these challenges will form the framework for successful marketing efforts. I’m forecasting this not only as it relates to healthcare, but in the context of a consumer marketplace undergoing massive transformation in the way people are approached, courted and led into the sales cycle.

Customer Narrowcasting

Alternatively known as market segmentation or niche marketing, customer narrowcasting takes a business’ focus to highly-defined, targeted customer segments. Whether formulating an annual marketing plan, reengineering product messaging or planning a media buy you can't do it without knowing your customer.

Market leaders are embracing a customer-centric philosophy that puts products and services into distinct market segments, each with narrow customer definitions. In this setting, the customer is viewed as the central asset. Products and services are tailored to unique needs of each customer group, relying on a range of segmentation profiles including demographic, psychographic and lifestyle.

The key to the customer-driven “black box” is data. Gathering, analyzing and interpreting information that allows you to understand variations among customer segments and develop a snapshot of your most desirable targets. It’s the practice of dividing people into groups or cohorts that are similar in specific ways relevant to key marketing indicators—age, gender, income, interests, attitudes and spending habits. The more you know about prospects needs and preferences, the more you’ll turn them into customers ( and the more customers you’ll turn into your brand promoters ).

Big Truth Messaging

In a marketplace characterized by more choice than most people can handle, marketing communication is at crossroads. The challenge is to fight through the incredible amount of apathy already lingering in the air. So whatever you're selling, unearth a Big Truth about it. What is the "single most important thought" that you want to communicate?

Big Truth messaging should start a meaningful one-to-one conversation with your target audience; lead them in a value-based direction, and begin to close the sale with a distinct call-to-action. Finding the delicate balance between education and selling goes a long way to creating a positive buying environment. Take a seat where your customer sits and always be answering the question “ What’s in it for me ?”

The best messaging is grounded in customer profiling. This allows companies to connect with customers logically and emotionally by demonstrating you understand what’s important to them, what concerns them, and what they want from your products. Articulates the most powerful features of a product or service and then directly link these features to benefits for your audience.

New Media

Digital convergence is advancing at an aggressive pace and smart marketers need to adapt to a convenience-driven, instant gratification customer culture. Traditional media outlets are being overtaken because of their inability to dial down and focus on niche markets or micro-verticals. Marketing is moving beyond a discipline of advertising and communication to one that focuses on building a relationship with the digital consumer.

Web-savvy amateurs are leveraging the power of information, even subverting the power of the corporate brand. Enter the blogosphere, social networking, podcasts, and viral marketing. Suddenly every customer has a news reel and megaphone to speak to minority interests and ultra-segmented consumers. These approaches bring an ability to pinpoint any debate—political, product or service. Momentum is shifting from institutions to individuals.

The fact is people are simply doing different things in different places at different times. Over 120 million people are going online for health and medical information (averaging seven visits per month). They are getting ready for, or drilling down after MD visits and researching drug information. They’re checking prices and looking for indicators about quality of care and clinical outcomes.

Actionable Transformation

Marketing is changing quickly. On a daily basis it’s moving in many new directions. It’s critical to think about these transforming influencers in the context of your business, but more importantly, put in place actionable strategies so you don’t get caught short in what promises to be a competitive, fast-moving marketing transformation.

Lindsay Resnick


Reader Comments (1)


This post provides a good overview of three trends walking hand-in-hand to change the future of marketing.

I believe market segmentation walks slightly out front of the other two. It's market segmentation that provides us with the specific target market information that enables us as marketers to know which big truth best appeals to the people most likely to buy a product or service.

It's also market segmentation that makes it possible to communicate and build relationships with a target market through the media that its members use.

Of course I may be a little biased concerning market segmentation. The fact that I've developed an entire site and write a Monday - Friday blog on market segmentation testifies to that.

April 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLinda P. Morton

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