COVID-19 has been an incredible digital accelerator. Now every brand and every company, in the absence of in-person detailing and live congresses, is rushing to exploit digital and social non personal promotion (NPP). Brands are creating multi-stage email campaigns, MoA and KOL videos, social media posts and ads, display and retargeted digital ads, webinars, and content marketing aimed at reaching or persuading HCPs.
What do you do when everyone is using the same tactics at the same time? You zag!
Zagging requires a willingness to break with convention, step outside your comfort zone, become a bit playful, and rethink your media strategy. Zagging is stepping off a ledge with the understanding that it will yield different results.
Consider six zagging tactics.
Take an unexpected posture. Write provocative headlines and body copy. Boldness is the enemy of plain vanilla. Convince decision-makers that they will be lost forever in a sea of sameness. Only by standing out will they achieve awareness, lead generation or conversion goals, especially when competitors are present in the same channels using similar tactics against the same audience.
Take the Gloves Off
This is the Trump approach. Take on the competition directly. Draw sharp comparisons. Compare features, benefits and outcomes. Share the comparative and competitive data, insights or language used across the table in countless detail calls, publicly. This requires a healthy risk appetite and some clear legal guidelines. But a straight up one-to-one fight almost always attracts attention.
Develop a Distinct Personality
This can either be a differentiating spokesperson or a vocabulary that drives a distinct impression. This varies by specialty. Cardiologists are distinctly different than dermatologists. Nurse practitioners are different from pharmacists. Represent your attributes and values with ownable language or an exclusive personality. There are plenty of academics, key opinion leaders and clinical influencers that resonate with your primary audience that can appropriately and affordably represent you.
Carve Out a Time
The frenzy of professional media and advertising rarely lets up. There’s much more content than anyone can absorb. Carve out a time that you can own. Or optimize time already allotted by HCPs to access new ideas. For many HCPs, nights and weekends are time for reading Journals, going on Sermo or catching up on medical newsletters. Publish your best stuff on a clearly articulated schedule. For example, share clinical trial results every Tuesday at noon ET on Twitter. Owning a time sets you apart and enables appointment viewing. It gives your primary audience a reliable cadence; a relationship touchpoint they can count on. You don’t have to be the NFL to own a time slot.
Rethink Media Strategy
Most brands want to cover all the bases. Many run media roadblocks – the same content on every platform at roughly the same time – to create a captive surround-sound experience. Competitors carve up their messaging and expose different facets in different channels. And others pick a channel and bombard the chosen platform with bold and unconventional messaging. All three strategies afford the possibility of standing out and finessing the competition. The critical variables are target audience composition and their channel or platform usage patterns. Be where your people are when they’re active and engaged. Borrow and direct the platform’s traffic to your advantage.
Use the Data
We know much more than ever about HCPs. Use the psycho-demographic, prescribing and device usage data to shape your creative and media tactics. Segmented personalization, using the general parameters of your target HCP audience will get you where you want to go. Data ensures that your messages are useful, timely, relevant and easy to grasp. And while privacy concerns are both real and serious, creating resonance compliantly is generally doable.
Zagging is both a state of mind and an agenda for action. But in a time of crisis, when executives default to conservative, conventional and reactive thinking, the brand that zags will stand out and win.