Chris Bevolo is the founder and principal of health care marketing agency Interval and president of Chris Bevolo Consulting. To read more of Bevolo’s insights on the marketing world, visit his blog.
This summer, I was able to catch up with the rest of the world by watching the first three seasons of the TV show “Mad Men” on DVD. The show is a marvel on many levels, but given my position in the world of advertising, I was particularly drawn to the scenes when Don Draper, creative director at the Sterling Cooper ad agency and the show’s protagonist, presented creative ideas to clients.
Certainly, Don was a force of charisma and confidence, practically bending clients to his will. What was startling, however, was the continuous simplicity of the big ideas Don presented. Maybe it was a clever headline, or compelling artwork, or a memorable theme, but the concept was always presented in the context of a print ad, or, at a higher level, a television spot. No matter the client or the product, the big idea was always a form of advertising.
Now contrast that with today’s world. Certainly captivating advertising is still part of the mix. But now, creativity can be applied to a health care marketing challenge at so many levels. Visionary concepts can come in the form of an innovative media strategy, or the enterprising use of specific channels, such as social media or mobile technology. Online strategies are rife with creative opportunity such as interactive websites and smartphone applications. Hospital marketers can drive breakthrough ideas in service innovation or enhanced patient experiences. They can also be innovative by understanding and approaching new markets in new ways.
At the highest level, marketers can pull multiple components together to form imaginative strategies, combining a new experience with a twist on an important customer segment and mixed with clever social-media components. As an example, consider the popular Old Spice Guy campaign. The advertising, featuring a macho spokesman as “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” and featuring hilarious, over-the-top spots, was considered extraordinarily creative. These videos went viral and were seen millions of times on YouTube. But the company took creativity to a new level when it hosted an “Ask the Old Spice Guy” event on Twitter, where followers could post questions and the Old Spice Guy would answer his favorites through quickly shot videos that were pushed out to Twitter in near real time.
Some may harken back to Don Draper’s world and dream wistfully of the simplicity of creativity in that earlier time. It’s true that today’s world, with all of its options for creativity, may seem complex or confusing to many health care marketers. But those who pursue creativity in all its forms will see that the opportunities to break through have increased exponentially.
Put another way, imagine what Don Draper could have done with Facebook!