Checklist for Maximizing Your Communications Campaign

A communications campaign is only as good as its plan. So, whether you are drafting a memo, responding to an email message from a customer, or developing a major outreach campaign that will last for several months, the time you spend planning these communications can make the difference between success and a missed opportunity.

Here’s a list of the most frequently overlooked elements.

Message

When you are developing a campaign, make sure to determine what you are communicating and what you want to accomplish. For example, are you announcing a new service to your customers or are you seeking feedback? Are you asking people to make a decision or take action? A good strategy should always have concise messages that capture the essential themes of a campaign.

Audience

Do your homework. I can’t stress this enough.  It’s important to understand your audience(s), and then think about what you’ve learned. Some questions to keep in mind include: How much do the audience members already know about my topic? Do they need background information? If they are being asked to take action, how difficult will it be for them?

Language

Use concise language to tailor your messages. Keep it simple, avoid jargon, and include references where readers can get more details on your campaign.

Success

Brand preference? Getting business leads? Increasing web traffic? Whatever your desired outcomes are, define what success means beyond just increasing your reach.

Progress

At the start of your campaign, before you spend any money, develop a plan for evaluating your program. I’ve learned that if you plan evaluation early, you will know what information you need as you go along and will save time and money in collecting data.

Websites, blogs, social networks, analytic services, online surveys and polls allow you to collect quantitative data, or a numerical result. Qualitative data reveals more about the effects of a campaign. For example, the number of newspaper articles mentioning your company is a quantitative measure. The way your company was mentioned in the newspaper articles is a qualitative measure. Qualitative measures are helpful in determining what is working and what can be improved.

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The Urgent Need for Healthcare Consumerism

Just last week, I heard from a friend who complained that she recently waited four hours at the emergency room after spraining her wrist. 

“Why did you go to the emergency room?” I asked shaking my head, the disbelief rising inside of me.  “Where else would I go?” she said in an atypical, matter of fact tone.  “Urgent care or a ‘Doc-in-the-box’,” I responded.  “But I was in pain and I didn’t know they could handle something like that,” she responded.

Wow!  It sure would have been worth a try. But if she doesn’t get it, how can I expect someone with a lot less education to make informed decisions?  With health care reform looming in 2014, (heck, just because it’s the right thing to do), people need to familiarize themselves with the definition of ‘emergency’ and act accordingly to not waste the resources we have, not to mention their time and money.

My friend is a well-read college graduate but clearly lacks common sense. Her hospital’s urgent care or even one of the many “Doc-in-the-Boxes” would have been a perfect destination for the treatment of her sprain. Last I checked, a sprained wrist wasn’t life threatening. Yet, I consider her poor decision making to be partly the fault of her insurance company, whoever they are. There should be consequences for making an expensive, unnecessary choice. And if there are consequences with her insurance company, she may not even be aware of them.

It’s no surprise though, that people without insurance and those from lower socioeconomic groups are using the ER as their primary care physician. A waste of resources plus these facilities oftentimes aren’t reimbursed. A double-whammy.

So what does it take to become a savvy consumer of health care?  Just shop for insurance, health care and procedures just like you would for a set of tires, a television or toilet paper. It desperately needs to become part of the vernacular here in the U.S. One way I believe that will happen is through education. Providers and payers alike need to publicize and promote the definition of what a smart consumer of health care looks like. Here are some of the traits.

1.)    Understands cost implications—considers the true cost of health care when making decisions. Makes appropriate health plan and provider selections too.

2.)    Practices self-care for such things as sprained ankles, cuts, bruises, burns, colds, etc. Makes a conscious decision, when appropriate and not foolish, to manage health problems on their own.

3.)    When the do have to access the system, they communicate clearly with health care professionals and share in the decisions

4.)    Takes responsibility and the initiative to manage their own chronic conditions—even to the point of participating in available classes and programs

5.)    Leads a healthy lifestyle—engaging in activities to maintain or improve their health. Practices prevention and knows what screenings they need and when.

Just think, my friend could have saved hours and probably the surprise of a major out-of-pocket expense she’s going to receive when her insurance company denies her claim.

Posted in health, Healthcare Marketing, Marketing, Research | Leave a comment

Takin’ it to the Streets

A story posted recently by blogger Jonathan Welsh of Driver’s Seat has me thinking about how creative people always find ways to overcome apparent obstacles. Welsh’s article tells the story of a new Jeep campaign that features Grammy-winning singer Lenny Kravitz. There’s nothing revolutionary about a celebrity shilling for a car company, but there’s a small twist to this scenario. Kravitz, you see, isn’t just pitching someone else’s product, he’s introducing a new song of his own – debuting it on a car commercial. It’s an interesting way to get paid (by Jeep) to build awareness and enthusiasm for his upcoming album, and, it’s a commentary on how the music industry has changed in the past few years.

I think Kravitz has it right. With the incredible pace of change in the music business these days, just cutting a record and putting it into stores isn’t enough. Musicians have had to get clever to get attention. Many have found ways to leverage the Internet, the very platform that forever changed their industry by facilitating file sharing, for their benefit. As you would expect, they create Facebook fan pages, Tweet messages to their followers, and post event photos on their websites. These things are the price of admission today. But many are doing something more – something special. They are finding ways to really connect on a more personal level with their fans (who are also, of course, their customers).

The iconic ‘70s rock band KISS, for example, let fans choose the locations for a recent American tour by voting via the KISS website. If you voted for Gene and the boys to come to your town, wouldn’t you be sure to show up and bring some friends? Other bands post early versions of songs in development or potential cover art and run online focus groups to get fan’s input.

 The band Radiohead beat the file-sharing public at their own game when they released their album In Rainbows in 2007 as a free download – asking only that fans pay what they thought it was worth. It turns out; their fans liked it well enough to pay approximately the same price that it would have commanded had it been sold through conventional channels. And, the band got to keep a much bigger portion of the money. More importantly, taking this approach created a deeper connection and built trust between the band and the people who love them.

In what may be the ultimate meeting of band and fans, Cincinnati folk-pop group Over the Rhine just released The Long Surrender, which was completely financed by fans via a social-media appeal. That’s right, fans of the band fronted the money (interest free, by the way) to produce the album. Wouldn’t you love it if your customers would do that for you? Those who chose to contribute got an advance copy of the album and their names were listed on the band’s website along with a sincere thank you. Even better, they got to feel like they were part of the artistic process – almost a part of the band.

Tricks like these help create the one-on-one connections that keep music lovers engaged (and therefore buying more music). Smart musicians are not waiting for the public to find them; they are taking their art to the masses in big ways – and reaping the rewards.

What you sell may not be as sexy (or “sexy,” if you’re not a fan) as Lady Gaga’s “bubble dress,” which got her millions of hits on the Internet, but a lot of these same lessons from the music business still apply. So, connect with your customers. Put yourself out there in new and creative ways. Heed the Doobie Brothers and start “Takin’ it to the Streets.”

Posted in Branding, Creativity, Interactive, Marketing, Social Media | Leave a comment

Oh, apps, how did we get along without you – especially now that they really can have life-or-death impact?

In the world of healthcare, consumer mobile phone apps are being used for everything from tracking symptoms to keeping tabs on health and wellness to educating the public to life-saving capabilities (you’ll find some good examples here). California Poison Control System’s new poison education app, Choose Your Poison, is available in English and Spanish and teaches young and old about poison prevention.  iTriage was created by two emergency room doctors to help people answer questions about their ailments and where to go for treatment. Hospital apps can be straightforward: Baptist Health South Florida has introduced its whimsically PineApp (their logo is a pineapple) for iPhone and Android, showing emergency rooms and urgent care centers, wait times and directions. St. Louis Children’s Hospital launched the free Kid Care to help parents assess pediatric symptoms.

Healthcare professionals in the field are using apps to help treat strokes, read ECGs, monitor patients in labor and delivery, transmit key health data to hospitals, expediting lifesaving care. Developers are working on an app to detect cancer more quickly. Doctors are embracing these tools: A new Manhattan Research study says three-quarters of U.S. physicians own some form of Apple device, such as an iPhone, iPad or iPod, with overall smartphone ownership projected to reach 81 percent this year. Tablets, particularly iPads, are turning out to be especially popular with doctors, who find them easy to use.

Oh, and there’s also iScrub, an app aimed at improving hand hygiene among health workers to combat the spread of infection within hospitals. A new study says the app has resulted in better compliance at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Now, that’s some high-tech cleanup!

Posted in About Wax Custom Communications, Healthcare Marketing, Interactive, Mobile | Leave a comment

Mobile Barcodes to Save Commercial Mailers

Last week I received an email from the ever-diligent Domestic Mail Manual(DMM) division of the United States Postal Service(USPS) notifying consumers and businesses of a new program.  Starting this Summer, commercial mailers that include mobile barcodes either INSIDE or on their mailings will receive a three percent discount on the delivery.

This is pretty cool news on a number of fronts.  One, it’s excellent to see the USPS keeping up with the times! Two, the fact they can recognize and process barcodes within the enclosed piece is a neat feature that might add some interesting flexibility to the mailing process.  I’m thinking of the creative possibilities for this as it becomes more widely used.

Here’s the latest info from the DMM themselves surrounding the program that runs from July 1- August 31:

-First-Class Mail and Standard Mail (including Nonprofit Standard Mail) letters, flats and cards with a mobile barcode inside or on the mail-piece can qualify for the discount.

-Participation requires electronic documentation.

-Commingled, combined and co-mail mailings are allowed and a separate postage statement is required for pieces with mobile barcodes.

This is obviously a pretty cutting-edge program for the USPS and is certainly a smart way to infuse mobile technologies with your direct mail campaigns.  For more information, check out the RIBBS website: https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=mobilebarcode

To subscribe to the DMM Advisory, send an e-mail to dmmadvisory@usps.com and just insert “subscribe” in the subject line.

Hey, I’m just thrilled to be sharing news about the USPS that’s not another price hike story!  So, check out the program and let us know some of the benefits you think this will bring your business.

Posted in Custom Publishing, Mailing, Mobile, Print Design, Print Production, Publishing | Leave a comment