September 08, 2013

I Miss Jerry I miss Jerry Lewis. Labor Day isn’t the same without him not only because he’s an incredible comic but also because he was the original social media marketer. His 44 year run left us with four enduring lessons. Create Own-able, Original Content. The schmaltz, the cheesiness, the kids in wheel chairs, the has-been performers singing long-forgotten big-band songs, the B rolls of guys in white coats holding test tubes, the drum rolls and the tote boards that conjure up the ghost of Ed McMahon, the lame local anchors and the tear-wrenching appeals all signal led Labor Day and MDA. Jerry consistently used original content to claim significant year-round mind space and to drive a singular and differentiated brand message. There are thousands of charities and thousands of celebrity do-gooders, but there was only one Jerry and his kids. Make it Personal. We all genuinely knew Jerry. He’d been a part of our lives since the 1950s. There was a great national catharsis each year as the telethon kicks off that focuses on Jerry. It was partly a morbid health-watch to see which diseases and which side effects of treatments Jerry himself will display each year. But even before he created a Facebook page or a Twitter account Jerry was engaging us by leveraging his comedy antics and by singing those signature songs – “Smile”, “What the World Needs Now” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Jerry understood, maybe better than anyone that people buy people. He used emotion, humor, shtick, flattery and frank talk to connect with different audience segments. Persistent Positioning. Jerry and MDA staked out the same position and for 44 years they delivered on it and raised more than $1.4 billion to fight muscular diseases. MDA owned Labor Day. There was nothing better and nothing more reliable and more comforting than watching Jerry, on The Love Network. The predictable and familiar parade of firefighters, convenience store owners, letter carriers, realtors, oil companies, Harley Davidson executives and other random sponsors presenting those over-sized checks at random moments during the Labor Day weekend were signature moments. Jerry knew that you position yourself, plant your flag and stick to it. Fads come and go but audiences crave the familiar. Network Your Networks. Jerry and MDA put together an incredibly potent series of partnerships and alliances that consistently deliver results. The lesson is -- connect the dots. Use your networks to extend your reach, frequency and engagement with your customer base. Don’t be bashful about mashing things together or cross-pollinating ideas among your allies. Happy Labor Day.
The App Fantasy Apps hold out the possibility of fulfilling marketers’ persistent fantasy -- that consumers will record daily, personal activity and that this data will fuel on-going relationship marketing programs. This belief is especially strong among pharmaceutical marketers who dream of patient diaries and yearn for patient data as a door opener for the patient-doctor conversation, widely acknowledged to be the single biggest hurdle in the DTC. Depending on how you count, there are as many as 97,000 existing mHealth apps ranging from broad-based health and wellness tools to single brand, single action apps. Three out of four are paid apps. Fifty seven percent are aimed at consumers and most are either dosing calculators or reference materials. In real life, less than 1000 of these apps have more than 500 downloads. Pinch Media reports that just 30% of apps are used the day after they are downloaded. And twenty days later the number drops to 5 percent. Americans have an average of 41 apps on their but actually use just eight or 1 out of every 5 apps they download. There are dozens of apps for chronic disease states like diabetes, asthma and depression that record incidents and data points or track adherence to dosing. The Pew Internet Project reported in January 2013, that 69 percent of Americans track some kind of health data and one in five of them use some form of technology. All apps live or die by providing either utility or diversion. Apps could give us 24/7 medical monitoring with the potential to better understand how people respond to conditions and the opportunity for heath care pros and brands to be in regular conversation with people about their particular heath issues. Apps have the potential to marry data flows and body mechanics to Marcus Welby, MD. But this won’t happen automatically. Marketers need to do much more ethnographic research about patients, better understand the practical behaviors and day-to-day attitudes of people suffering from diseases and think carefully about the interplay of 3 or more devices with each other and the real world in order to develop apps that real people will actually want and use.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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