“I solemnly swear to not do dumb stuff around trains.”
Melbourne Australia’s Metro Trains is here to tell you not thinking about train safety is dumb. The campaign, Dumb Ways to Die, pulls no punches and gets the message across loud and clear. Instead of using traditional messages to promote train safety, the creators of the campaign stepped outside their comfort zone to spread a provocative and memorable message—and it’s working. The train line reported a 21 percent reduction in accidents and deaths since launch. Its campaign song reached the top 10 on iTunes charts, and the three-year-old campaign is still going strong, even spawning a line of plush toys, a book and a top-ranked mobile game.
How does this example translate to healthcare marketing?
For starters, let me be clear: I am not saying to call your customers dumb – that would backfire in healthcare. However, there are ways to step out of your comfort zone, which is more about taking smart, calculated risks than randomly trying new tactics.
When concepting new campaigns, it’s okay to explore approaches that go beyond the coziness and familiarity of your current talking points. Consumer preferences are changing – and in healthcare, consumers are more empowered to choose than ever before – so stale messages have officially become a detriment. ‘Trains are dangerous’ or ‘Your safety matters to us’ wouldn’t garner people’s attention the way ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ has. Ask yourself, are your campaigns eye-catching and getting the most important, actionable messages through to your target audience? Or are you just finding new words to convey the same old story?
Attention-grabbing campaigns in the healthcare space
Because the advertising landscape is already crowded with messages, taking a step or two outside of your comfort zone is sometimes the best way to cut through the noise and get results. Take, for example, the Hot for my Body campaign we created for Midwest Transplant Network (MTN). People are familiar with the idea of signing up for organ and tissue donation, but many hold misconceptions about who can donate. ‘Hot for my Body’ raised awareness of the need for organ donation with messaging and graphics designed to change public perception of organ donors by featuring seniors, adults and teens from multiple races. The concept created a healthy buzz and produced positive results that exceeded industry standards, delivering a nice return on investment for MTN.
MTN also used Facebook advertising and Pandora radio spots, which proved to be very effective in increasing likes and getting people to visit the campaign landing page, YesTheyWantMe.com, to register as a donor. While some healthcare organizations today are mastering the art of social media marketing, many are not. Where do you fall on that spectrum? Is social media outside your comfort zone as a marketer? It doesn’t have to be…
Healthcare marketing and social media
For many healthcare organizations, venturing into social media is, in and of itself, a departure from the comfort zone. To make things easier, when clients ask us for help with social media marketing, the very first thing we do is work with them to create a social policy that lays the groundwork for using various social platforms, including which social sites to use, what to post and how to handle negative commentary.
However, maybe you are already on social media and want to try a new network. Different social platforms can open up new audiences, share your messages in unique ways and increase your reach. Advocate Health Care is an example of a healthcare organization that has stepped outside of its comfort zone on Instagram. By sharing patient stories, Advocate Health Care has reached more people – the Instagram account, which attracted 670 followers in the first two months of the campaign, now has more than 3,400 followers.
Test your out-of-the-box campaign before launch
Jumping into the market with an edgy campaign is risky. To safeguard from backlash, the campaign needs to be tested. Does the public find it offensive? Does it lead to misunderstanding? Is it motivational enough to not only grab someone’s attention, but also make them take action? If the campaign passes a focus group, that’s great. If not, it’s time to take their feedback and retool it into something that works. Next, you need to get leadership approval. With authorization in place, it’s safe to launch.
Have you wandered into new marketing territory recently? Share it with us below, we’d love to hear about it!
If you missed the other blog posts in our series, catch up now:
- Living your healthcare brand
- Optimizing online content
- Listening and engaging through social media
- Aligning your marketing budget with strategic initiatives