I’ve long been a strong proponent of conducting market research prior to the development of any significant marketing program. Research should inform both the marketing plan and creative development process. Similarly, I’ve always believed that a marketer who thinks he or she has the answers, without tapping into insights from the target audience(s), is a fool. The genius is out there in the marketplace. As marketers, it is our job to tap into that genius – to recognize it when we hear it – to know how to access it. Often that means that we have to sell the powers that be on the importance of investing in good market research. And if the money isn’t there for high-brow market research, hit the streets and do some grass roots, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants research. There have been many times when I’ve had to resort to approaching local employers and offered to feed their staff (usually pizza) in exchange for the opportunity to conduct a focus group over lunch – or to conduct creative testing. I’ve also stood on a street corner in Boston intercepting consumers and offered a crisp $5 bill for five minutes of their time so we could test various ad concepts with them. (You can learn a lot for $200.) Getting this feedback is that important! And it is amazing the things we learn – the things we would have never anticipated.
A couple months ago, one of the editors from Strategic Health Care Marketing (Plain English Media), Lisa Ellis, contacted me and asked if Jeff Steblea and I would consider writing an article about the role that research played in the development of Lawrence General Hospital’s recent “brand elevation” campaign. This came on the heels of Jeff Steblea (Market Street Research) and Jill McDonald Halsey (Lawrence General Hospital) presenting this very same case study at the Western New England Healthcare Marketing Symposium (WNEHMS). I immediately turned to Jeff and Jill and asked if they would be interested in collaborating on the article. They enthusiastically agreed.
In truth, I did very little of the writing. I simply provided Jeff with a case study I had written previously as part of an awards submission, and he used that as background information as he prepared a first draft. It was an excellent draft. From there, Jill and I provided input and suggestions that led to the final document. Jill offered far more cogent input than I. The collaboration was painless and we quickly had something we felt good about submitting to the publication. Late last week the article was published online and it will appear in the July Issue of Strategic Health Care Marketing.
The article tells the story of how research was woven into the campaign development process – including both quantitative and qualitative research, focus groups, creative testing and telephone surveys, and concluding with on the street intercepts at a local shopping center. (Yes, I was passing out $5 bills in front a Starbucks.) The research plan and methodology gave the leadership of the hospital confidence in the creative development process, and took much of the subjectivity out of the approval process. At every step of the process, we had data! The voice of the consumer guided us all along the way.
I invite you to review the article online using this link: “Realizing Vision Through Research: How Lawrence General Hospital Used Research to Help Elevate Its Brand.”