A New Era of Marketing A.D. (After Digital)

Have you heard that digital is disrupting healthcare? I thought so. However, you may not be aware that we are again entering a new world order for marketing. If you have struggled to drag your organization from traditional to digital marketing you should be prepared for the coming wave of change to marketing and it has little to do with traditional versus digital marketing. The new worldview marketers need to adopt is what I call, A.D. or “After Digital.”

We have been riding the wave of emerging technology, data and ongoing disruptions for the last decade. Customers, or in this case, patients are now entitled. They have digital proficiency, increasing adoption of technology and the vast majority of people are online, connected and empowered.   Over the last few years technology has provided an environment where empowered customers believe they deserve something. Free next day shipping? 1-Click Ordering? Yes, please.

The distinction between traditional and digital has fully dissolved because now it’s difficult to say what is traditional versus digital. The decades old habits of mass marketing are still prevalent in most marketing organizations and plans today. It’s already moving beyond advertising buys and shifting into advanced targeting based on emerging analytics. It is using social listening and signals to deliver personalized, targeted, contextually relevant messages. And finally annual planning needs to shift to nimble and real-time engagement modes. You can no longer plan your year and work your plan. Your plan lives in real-time.

According to Forrester Research, there are three new rules for marketing.

  • Be human
  • Be helpful
  • Be Handy

To be human is to be authentic, transparent and empathetic. To be helpful is to stop mass messaging and to become invisible and solve problems for the customer. To be handy to be agile, innovative and investing in inspiration.

The need to create lifelong, holistic relationships with healthcare consumers has never been more important. Building relationships across the customer lifespan, understanding the person and establishing a foundation of trust before they need you is the objective.

I know what you’re thinking, “We haven’t even mastered digital. How do we move our marketing to this new-fangled A.D.?”

It’s a combination of actions:

  • Leadership and resilience – you must lead your organization to understanding this change.
  • Intrapreneurs – locate the change agents in your organization that can become advocates and unleash them.
  • Change Management – like any change it requires a plan for change management to drive different thinking, behavior and actions in your organization.

More specifically, it requires rolling up your sleeves and doing some foundational research to understand your customer personas, the behaviors they demonstrate in their journey better than anyone else. Map and gap their behaviors against your digital ecosystem, develop content and services to fill the gaps, ongoing optimization and support. You really need to think in terms of high quality content distribution, share-ability, partnerships with trusted sources and offline integration rather than building new web sites and portals.

As a marketing leader, taking this on now you will set your organization up for the future because customers are entitled and this is what they expect. Would you rather be on top of the wave or be crushed under it?

Jim Lefevere
About the author: 

Jim Lefevere is the Global Head of Marketing Strategy and Support and the Head of Digital Marketing at Roche Diagnostic Corporation.  Mr. Lefevere has served as the Chairman of the UnitedWay Annual Capital Campaign and on the Board of Directors for Carmel-Clay Public Library and the CMO Council.  Follow Jim on Twitter.