STEP 3-FORGET “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”
For years, we’ve been barraged with concepts like the importance of “looking out for #1. Even past articles in publications like FAST COMPANY discuss the concept of “The Flip” – taking your IPO (Initial Public Offering) money and “flipping” it and/or yourself to something new. Of course, that was at a time when there was money to take and flip.
In any event, effective market positioning requires businesses to forget the concept of “What’s in it for me (us).”
It must be centered around the values, needs, wants, desires, interests, lifestyles, fears and perceptions of customers / clients / patients / constituents or prospects for what you offer.
This doesn’t mean that there won’t be anything in it for you. And it isn’t suggesting that you abandon a profit motive to please your consumers. No, quite the opposite. Figuring out “what they want” almost always leads to more profits, more referrals, and more fun for you, your employees, and your clientele.
For instance, let’s presume that you are a CEO of a major hospital or hospital chain. You spend millions on capital improvements and advertising that suggests that you have the latest equipment … technology … and so forth. But, how many of your patients make a decision about where to have an operation performed based upon the millions you’ve spent on billboards, TV ads and other media? The truth is that in spite of all that “market positioning,” most patients end up in your beds because of emergency room visits, doctor referrals and insurance company arrangements.
But, how many patients do you know that sing your praises to their friends and relatives?
How many doctors are knocking your doors down to get surgical or admission privileges?
How many insurance companies have been besieged by their customers/patients begging that your hospital be the hospital of choice for their care?
On the other hand, how many of your past or current patients beg their family members or friends to get them out of your hospital or stay with them to provide a level of care that they feel is missing? Additionally, how many doctors are setting up their own competing operations, be they surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic or specialty services?
No, we’re not talking here about the fact that nobody really wants to be at the hospital – your’s or anyone else’s – in the first place. We’re talking about the special services, products, marketing efforts and tools that you provide that cause word of mouth advertising to speak louder than your TV ads.
Do you have any such Market Positioning Strategies?
Do you even know what your patients are saying about your institution?
You see, all too often money is spent where ad agencies make money (billboards, electronic and print media and publications of various kinds) rather than where it counts the most – the people who are in your care … those who refer patients to you … those who contract with you … those who bring you emergency patients … and so forth.
Can you see how this single, simple example can apply to your business?
But, what to do about it?
How do you actually develop the practical, tangible ways to develop a groundswell of interest in your hospital?
While it is very probable that much of this creative and intellectual capital resides within your own walls, you probably haven’t “mined” that gold. From our experience (and probably yours), we all need to have a “gold miner” that knows how to prime the pump.
When is the last time you brought in someone who wasn’t corrupted by your corporate culture? Someone who thought completely outside the traditions of your industry and even your ad agency? When did you last investigate a way to look at your hospital’s (or whatever your business is) services and products – from “their perspective?”
And, forget that refrain that many of you have learned so well that goes like this: “Well, our business is so regulated and our reimbursements are so down and our profits are under so much pressure that we just can’t try something new now.”
The truth is that you can’t afford NOT to look at this with a new … creative … non-establishment perspective. If you’re honest, you know in your gut that this is true.
And don’t expect the average ad agency to develop this type of Market Positioning Strategy for you.
In the first place, it often will cost less than what you’re currently spending on ineffective mass media.
In the second place, it’s rarely what they (agencies) do.
This isn’t an attack against agencies. They often perform useful tasks, especially within the realm of public relations efforts, creative packaging, event productions, and on and on. As a matter of fact, if you own an agency, you would provide a great service to your clients to hire a firm like THINK-TANK to help you develop unique products, services, marketing efforts, packaging, joint ventures, and so forth. All of a sudden, you may actually have a compelling story to tell in your advertising and public relations efforts.
Strangely enough, we have worked with strategists as part of our BrainTrust program who have literally run circles around some internationally-recognized design firms – and at a significantly lower price. In part, this is because we approach design not just for the sake of design, but as part of an overall marketing strategy.
Good design always has behind it a strategy … a reason for being designed in a certain way … a methodology that makes sense. Frankly, some of the largest design agencies that we’ve encountered through our BrainTrust contacts seem to approach design just as a creative contest rather than with “meaningful differentiation” in mind. What a travesty and often a multi-million dollar waste for the client.
So, forget “What’s in it for Me.”
Start with “them” and get some help in developing ways to motivate them to evangelize for you rather than spending a fortune in the media “beating your own chest.”