Campaigns need a purpose and a focus behind them. Campaigns need to tell stories that bring people together. Campaigns can look back, but if you’re going to look back, make it feel real and honest.
How to start a campaign
Let’s say you’re doing a campaign trying to bring people to a city. What if you don’t focus on the past but focus on the present? Campaigns should not always be about the past unless the campaign is a celebration of the past. If you are looking back on 40 years of a hospital, then yes, the campaign is about the past. But if you’re trying to bring more people to your city, if you’re trying to instill a sense of pride in your city, if you’re trying to get people to visit your city, then your campaign needs to be much more focused on what is great about the city now. Right this moment.
Your role as marketer
Your obligation as a marketer, content developer, or audience outreach professional is to figure out how to change the perception of your field through great marketing. You can no longer work in a bubble. If you thought you could, you’re wrong. Even if something happened to your competitor, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you. In the eyes of the public, if it happened to your competitor, it will happen to you. You have to be aware of what people are saying about your industry, and you have to figure out how you can change people’s minds. It’s at that moment where you really showcase who you are as a marketer.
A healthcare campaign
Look at healthcare. A person working in healthcare philanthropy has to contend with a world where people have a lot of negative views on healthcare. They feel the doctors get paid too much, the costs are too high, and they are dealing with elected officials who don’t necessarily believe that everyone is entitled to healthcare. How do you rise above that noise? How do you get someone to realize that your hospital is worth giving to? And how do you encourage doctors and nurses and techs to join you in this mission where they have countless other programs they could choose?
People working in healthcare marketing must face these questions every single day. They must highlight their services and what makes them unique while, at the same time, convincing people that giving to their hospital is worthwhile. And in doing so, they must be hyper-aware that people are not every happy with healthcare right now.
Thank about the education world. If I am a university official, I’m dealing with the rising cost of tuition, a wealth of choices, and a news media cycle that continually tried to say that my degree program is not worth it. What do I do then? How do I message that a degree from my institution is going to be worth it? And how do I justify that the cost is worth it, too?
Your Harvard Business School’s and Columbia University’s have a built-in reputation that’s going to keep people applying. They have weathered downturns in the economy and rising costs without much issue. But what if I’m a small liberal arts school on a lake? What if my school is $60,000 a year and not as well known? How do I convince parents and students that this is the school for them?
Education professionals have found themselves in a tunnel of voices that doubt the need for higher education. And the rising costs don’t help matters, when it comes to parents and kids deciding on where they will spend the next four years.
Connection in marketing
You have to start with feeling here. A person continues going to a hospital, even in the face of rising costs, because of the feeling they get when they arrive. They know they will be taken care of. They know that this hospital will be there for them, listen to them, and attend to them. They know they aren’t going to be ushered into a cold room, be talked at for five minutes, and then sent back home.
The feeling they get from that hospital is unmatched. That is why they will continue to patron the hospital. Even if their bill is a little high, they will keep coming back. Why? Because you’ve created a sense of connection in them.
The same can be said for the higher education client. Students want to know you’re going to meet their needs. They want that feeling that overtakes them when they walk through the halls of your campus. They want to say, “This place gets me. This place has everything I need. It understands who I am and it wants to see me grow.”
But it’s on you to bring that message out. And that’s where you have to really think about how you’re marketing.