The Seven Deadlier Sins of Campaign Development

The fine folks at PM360 recently listed out the Seven Deadly Sins of Healthcare Marketing. I contributed to an accompanying article and realized that there are sinful choices clients and agencies make every day that don’t fit neatly into our preconceived notions of “sin” — they seem completely innocent on the surface. Perhaps that is what makes these seven so damning to any client’s work and agency’s creative soul:

1.) Relying solely on traditional formats as a measure of an effective idea. Evaluating a campaign idea via a printed box on a page is neat and tidy, but ultimately limiting and antiquated. Tradeshows, personal selling, gaming, digital selling, unbranded, broadcast, social, environmental, mobile — all are genuine and often far more effective ways for a campaign to reach its audiences.

2.) Going native. Agencies shouldn’t rush to apply their “client” filters — and clients shouldn’t want them to. The agency is being compensated for a point of view and experience the client cannot provide for itself. Sometimes the best interests of the brand are to shake it by the scruff of the neck, something few clients include in their briefing.

3.) Rushing to execution before nailing the idea. But once you do nail the idea, don’t skimp on bringing it to life. An average idea can be made exceptional in its execution. An amazing idea even more so.

4.) Ignoring the fact that personal selling involves a living, breathing, highly trained sales person. Non-personal selling does not. A creative campaign needs to serve both, but the onus on surprising and engaging audiences is dramatically higher in non-personal venues.

5.) Using an inconsistent measuring stick. From the first review through the final focus group, campaign ideas should be measured against the creative strategy from which they were inspired. Needless to say, that strategy shouldn’t change along the way. And all evaluators should use it consistently, resisting the urge to swap in product positioning, message hierarchy, or, heaven forbid, “tone” as a new measure mid-way through the process.

6.) Setting the research schedule before creative development has even started. If the research tail wags too quickly, be prepared for ideas that might be dogs.

7.) Assuming an automatic "no" from med-reg on a bold idea. Bring your legal/medical/regulatory body in early. Expose them to the strategy, to the ideas in rough form, to the market research results. Find a way to help medical and regulatory gatekeepers understand your conceptual goals; often times they will help you find your way.

I’m just one reformed soul trying to keep creativity on the path of righteousness. Heaven knows, there are other sinful choices we’ve all committed in the pursuit of brand awesomeness. Perhaps now you’ll feel comfortable confessing yours.

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© 2017 by David Sonderman