Out of the Box|01/03/2012

What’s more important in hospital marketing: the SEO or the Story?

Last night I attended a presentation given by David Sable, the Global CEO of the NY based ad agency, Young and Rubicam.  In the Q&A afterwards, I asked him what’s more important in marketing today — the SEO or the story?

What's more important in hospital marketing? The story or SEO?I had two reasons for asking this question.  One, earlier that day I was on a phone call with a hospital marketing executive discussing the SEO trap.  Two, the marketing executive was in the audience that night and I wanted to make my point.

Before I give away the answer, I want to chat a bit about David Sable’s presentation and share some of the insights I gleaned from it.

World Generation.  Ad agencies, like Y&R, are discovering that we no longer fit into convenient pre-labeled boxes anymore.  Gen Y, Gen X, Baby Boomers are all labels that help marketers define us, but what’s really defining us is globalization.  We are connected — almost instantaneously — to news, events, people, places all over the world through our phones and computers using twitter and facebook (for now).   Nothing is black and white anymore.  We are living in a rainbow of grey.

Distribution vs Engagement.   These are two very different things.  Today, we all have the power to broadcast, but only a select few can engage.   I may have a million Twitter followers (I don’t), but does that matter if they are not engaged (it doesn’t).  We all want love, but will gladly settle for like because that all that counts, literally.

Google needs goggles.  Recently, I watched a TED presentation about how the algorithms that power search engines really don’t know us at all and how they are putting us into silos of their own making.  David Sable said much the same thing.  Google+ is Google’s attempt to “know us” better, because our clicks are just our actions; not our intentions.

Running in Beta.  There are no more scripts or formulas for success.  We are just running a beta version and tweaking life as we go along.  It used to be that you needed to be a doctor or lawyer or banker to ‘make it’ in life, but the heroes today are the dropouts (Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg) who bucked the system and re-invented themselves and their companies along the way.  I am not 48, but rather version 4.8.

Stories Sell.  Ah…finally.  The punch line.  David Sable spoke at length about the importance of the ‘story’ in creating engagement.  Yes, it seems that what we want are real stories that speak to us, because in a world full of noise we are looking for resonance.   I read the Steve’s Job biography and that makes me more connected to Apple products.  I saw The Social Network and that makes me “like” Mark Zuckerberg more.  Their stories resonate with me and connect me to their products.

Creating content that engages is a creative endeavor, not a mechanical one.  Yes, you may be at the top of my search, but not top of my mind.

Did I feel better?  I did.  I think I made my point, which I wrote about in my first blog post entitled, “Forget love, I just want to be liked…”.  The bottom line – I think we’re all drinking a little too much of Google’s Kool Aid.

What's more important in hospital marketing?But I also recognize that stories alone don’t sell, and you need to put them where people can see them.  Harmonizing the mechanical and creative produces the sweet sound of success – at least in marketing.

Why don’t we call it a tie.


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5 Comments

  • Hey Ruben,

    Love this post. I personally do believe that stories are the linkage between one-offs and loyalty. Just like what you said, these stories need to be embedded in the consumer’s mind and when it is, that’s when SEO will actually start having ROIs.

    A tie? Fair. But at least we know which should come first.

    Keep it up!

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