Brand Strategy

6 Healthcare Marketing Takeaways from Judging the CLIO Healthcare Awards

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Amy Rohn

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If you’ve never had the opportunity to sit on the jury for marketing awards, try to make it happen. It’s really one of the only times you’ll be laser focused on a large body of somebody else’s work with a critical and (hopefully) impartial eye. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to see the best of the best, which raises the bar for your own work. Frankly, it’s both humbling and inspiring.

I recently had the chance to be a part of the CLIO Health awards jury in the digital/mobile, direct, experiential/events, public relations and social media categories. I have a few takeaways from the great work I’ve spent the past several weeks critiquing and appreciating.

  1. It’s really really hard to categorize work these days, and that’s a good thing.

    Is it a social campaign that drives media coverage? Is it an event or experience that drives social media engagement? Is it a PR event in the digital realm, amplified in social with some paid search behind it? Yes, yes, and yes. If your marketing campaign is so easily classified that it doesn’t bleed into at least two, and ideally more categories, then you’re not doing it right. The best work today, the awarded work today, can’t exist in some functional or media silo.

  2. Tech is great, but it’s not a must-have for a great campaign.

    We discussed and praised campaigns that were so low-tech it would make your digital team cry. Sure, there were plenty of great campaigns doing highly innovative things with bleeding edge technology but the key is: Tech has to be in service to the idea. If the idea doesn’t demand a high-tech execution, then it’s gratuitous and you risk losing the idea in the technology.

  3. That said … holy smokes it’s amazing what smart marketers are doing these days with AI, bots and algorithms that even 18 months ago would have seemed futuristic.

    If the tech is helping you connect better with the target or helps tell a better story, then have at it.

  4. There is beauty in simplicity.

    A good idea in its purest sense is, more often than not, going to be best executed as simply and purely as possible. The more superfluous bells and whistles that get tacked on along the way, the harder it is to communicate the core idea to the intended target. This is true for public relations, social media, digital media, events, experiences and even traditional media.

  5. Big budgets are nice, but you can do breakthrough work without them.

    But, it means the idea has to be spot on and executed with remarkable efficiency. We saw healthcare marketing campaigns with what I assume had very big production budgets and campaigns that were executed on budgets many in the industry would dismiss as too small. And some of those “small-budget ideas” were every bit as powerful, and in some cases more so, than the big ones.

  6. Healthcare marketing doesn’t have to be boring.

    Yes, I know it’s highly regulated and there are so many category conventions we all hold so dear. But I’m telling you, I saw work from pharma, health services, disease awareness, hell, even animal health that was anything but boring. So the next time you want to push your healthcare executive team away from the category norms, check out some award winning work and share it with them.

After sitting on the CLIO Health jury, I’m headed back to work with a renewed appreciation for what’s possible.

Check out the 2017 winners at CLIO Health.

Amy Rohn

"A messy desk is the sign of a brilliant mind."

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