Due to the intense rules and regulations associated with marketing in certain industries (financial, health care, energy, and others), it can be difficult to develop campaigns that allow brands to distinguish themselves from the competition. That said, there are principles that brands can implement to ensure their marketing planning process is strategic and communication tactics are differentiating and will ultimately drive business.
By being disciplined in following a systematic approach, companies in these fields can create remarkable interactions with prospective and current customers in order to grow their business. At Esparza, we work diligently with our clients to follow these six steps in a consistent manner:
Step 1. Set a clear and reasonable objective. Using a hospital example, “increase outpatient procedures by 3% over last year” versus “obtain more patients.” In the absence of setting measurable goals, it becomes a branding effort, not a business development effort.
Step 2. Develop the most creative and meaningful idea. In other words, don’t just run an ad campaign that any company can run. Work with your agency/internal team to come up with an innovative way to get people’s attention. Create an approach that is relevant to your goal and fosters “buzz,” like a banking institution offering free car washes for a year with every new car loan.
Step 3. Execute the idea at a high level. Coming up with the great idea is the hard part, so be sure to invest enough resources to bring that idea to life in the best way possible. Your marketing message has to be strong, simple, and unique to your brand so that no one can easily duplicate your efforts. It needs to be something that only your organization can “own.”
Step 4. Select optimal media placements. If you invest in developing solid creative executions, it’s also important that you choose to run ads in media outlets that your target audience will actually see/hear. Don’t just opt for the most affordable tactical plan – make placements that are smart and strategic.
Step 5. Integrate supportive marketing tactics. Now that you have a great idea, stellar creative, and a smart media plan, be sure that you also use other outlets to get your message out there. Explore potential PR opportunities; use your social media outlets; and promote it on site, on your website, and in email blasts.
Step 6. Track the results of these concentrated efforts. After the first month and each month afterwards, compare to the same periods last year. Are you getting the results you anticipated? If not, ensure your agency/internal team is nimble enough to adjust your messaging and/or media placements. If it is working, consider expanded investment.
With solid discipline, these six activities are absolutely attainable. With more and more competition, it is critical for brands in highly regulated industries (no matter how small or large your budget) to take these steps while developing and implementing their marketing plans.
Emily K. Howard, a marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.
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