Centricity is Dead: The ME Principle
Our experience tells us that centricity is no longer relevant today when it comes to brands within pharmaceutical, medical device and medical technology. Why might you ask?
When you think about it, centricity is very much one-sided. It doesn’t imply there is an equal relationship. We call this the ME principal. It’s a focus on either a brand or audience-centric approach to developing and implementing brand strategy and communications with audiences. Looking at these very dynamic and different organizations across these categories, they take either one of two approaches.
One approach is very brand or product centric. Examples of this often fall into the medical device or medical technology arena. They develop positioning that is more rationale and grounded in features and benefits. Their engagement plans are tactical rather than strategic in nature. Often times communications consist of relaying a laundry list of features and benefits, pictures of devices absent of a true creative campaign idea, and may not always be implemented to where their audiences desire to engage in content. This means an audience may not be fully interested in or resonate with the brand or product. When you think about it, lifecycle management happens very quickly and is often driven by innovation and product enhancements in an attempt for the need to keep ahead of or up with competitive offerings. Hence, these types of pressures are likely what forces decisions with this particular approach.
Another approach is more audience centric. Pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies tend to focus more on what their audience needs through rationale and emotional insight gathering, more emotional benefit-oriented positioning and more well thought out engagement plans, yet still not always in the best ways, leaving room for much opportunity. Usually, a fully well thought out campaign is developed from a creative idea through all brand messaging. Afterall, while competitive pressures too are very real like with medical device/tech-oriented organizations, pharma organizations have the luxury of longer lead times to lifecycle management either pre-approval, approval and later on to plan, shift thoughtfully, and engage their audiences more on their term’s versus the brand’s terms.
These approaches, while with the best intentions, don’t always necessarily create an equal partnership, hence why we call this the ME principle.
Unification is Thriving: The WE Principle
As we thought about the shortcomings of centric-oriented brand practices in context of the ME principle, we asked ourselves how have we helped our clients see things differently, different in a way that unifies brands and audiences together? This question tells us the answer that to unite, we have to think of the brand as a relationship, just like in our personal lives with significant others. We call this approach the WE principal.
The WE principal is all about developing a relationship with a brand. We have helped brands see that it’s not a one-side story but it’s a story of equal partnership between the brand and the audience together. Developing a relationship and nurturing it over time creates a stronger sense of loyalty, which is not the case for the vast majority of brands within the healthcare space.
There are a few areas to keep in mind as you think about the WE principle that will help you form faster and longer-lasting relationships with your audience. If these are done successfully, you’ll see behavior begin to change as every brand challenge is a behavior change challenge.
•Be Open. Always be actively listening and responding to their needs and they’ll do the same for you in driving your brand forward.
•Be Inclusive. As you develop a marketing strategy, include your audience and obtain their feedback on how to strengthen it because if they are involved with you, it will likely have more impact. It can help lead to better positioning, creative messaging and engagement through tactics.
•Be Honest. Any time we engage our audience or them with us, being transparent with all the good or not so good whether we want to say it or they want to hear it, will establish trust. When trust is developed, it will take us further, for longer, together.
When we “Be” these things, we come together as “We.” And the benefits of thinking this way can be profoundly positive for us, our brand and our audience. Together, these include:
•WE will have a stronger emotional connection together; which if positive, will drive them to making decisions faster in favor of your brand.
•WE will feel a sense of validations in our decisions based on how we communicate and engage together through the rational elements of the relationship.
•WE will have a better understanding of the context shaping your marketing ambitions and their ambitions with treating patients and what they hope to achieve with your brand in their practice.
•WE will be in a better position to sustain the relationship versus allowing it to become fleeting, so keeping one another inspired is necessary.
By following these best practices, you will own a special place in the heart and mind of your audience and you will have the benefit of brand success as the by-product. Specifically, you brand will benefit by the following:
•Increased sales revenue and market share that drives behavior for faster trial, adoption and, ultimately, loyalty.
•Gain more advocates who may be more likely to speak about your brand in ways you’ll find favorable to your business results and overall equity.
•Improved ROI with marketing spend, particularly when audiences are more likely to resonate with your brand, therefore engage with it and take action.
Centricity is old news and no longer relevant today, so it’s time to move beyond the ME principle and onto the WE principle where you and your audience can thrive.