As a mental health marketing professional, one of the first things I’m hired to do is help treatment centers, businesses or organizations define their brand, their “deliverable claim of distinction.” I help them define that special something they do better than anyone else in the marketplace. Together, we identify the service or product that sets them apart from their competitors, and then we claim that identity in the marketplace.
In my agency days, we would typically spend 4-6 hours with the client going through a branding process that we developed over the years. It was a deep dive into the heart of the company – the mission, the goals, what had worked, what didn’t. We’d gather a group of 6-8 critical employees of the company, along with the senior marketing person and the CEO. Instead of getting together a group comprised solely of marketing employees, we asked our contacts to pull together a broader group – some would say an unlikely group for a marketing exercise.
We asked them to make sure that we had some employees who had been with the company for a long time and one or two who were new to the company. Job titles didn’t necessarily matter – we wanted people from diverse areas of the company, including those working in the trenches every day. The view from the trenches can provide valuable “snapshots” of your company that you just can’t see from the executive suites or the marketing department.
Usually, during the meet and greet one of the employees invited to participate would comment that they knew nothing about branding. This might be a computer programmer or a senior shift foreman. Then, at some point during the meeting, without fail, that person would make a comment that was so insightful it would be considered part of what would become the brand message.
All our high-brow analysis and professional knowledge of marketing was great, but it was usually those off-the-cuff insights from unlikely sources that gave us all the “aha!” moment we needed to crystalize the essence of our message. By the end of the meeting, we would have enough information to go back to the agency and begin the development of a brand message and a campaign to communicate it.
At the time, I wasn’t sure why this particular dynamic was so successful for us. But experience showed me that those who often think they know the least can offer more insights than they imagined. And that sometimes, turning something over and looking at it from a different angle can synthesize ideas in a new and better way.
Now that I’m approaching mental health marketing with my new “out-of-your-mind thinking” abilities, the success of our diverse approach makes total sense. When strategic plans and well-done research meet intuition and multidimensional viewpoints, a special synergy happens. That’s where the magic sauce of bold and different marketing happens.