leaders educate

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Brand Leaders Educate.

A couple of years ago I wrote a brand strategy for an accountable care organization. An ACO is a physician group, the rules for which are shaped by the Affordable Care Act.  It was an exciting project and one I felt was quite political in nature. The brand strategy captured and celebrated the best of the Affordable Care Act – turning the systems from curative (treating sick patients) to preventative (prior to sick) a la well-baby.

Disclosure: The ACA built financial incentives into the system so that docs are paid to keep us well – sharing with the insurance companies the savings accrued thanks to wellness.

The Claim for the brand strategy was “Intensive Primary Care.” By telling targets (patients, physicians and payers) the primary care physicians or general practitioners (GP), as some know them, are going to treat patients more preemptively and exhaustively, rather than turning them over to specialists when really sick, it changes the calculus of medicine.

Managing healthy people is less costly than treating sick people.

This brand claim was a first to market claim. It sold the accountable care organization category. Being first to market is a leadership position. And leaders educate, someone smart once told me.




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Simple leadership.

I wrote an email this morning to someone in the health insurance space referencing an axiom I love “leaders educate.”  I learned it while working at McCann-Erickson on the AT&T business.  AT&T had some seriously smart marketers back in the day. Post-monopoly.

When consumers are confused and change is in the wind, they can make bad choices. Uninformed choices. The sturm und drang favors upstarts and competitors.  It is for this reason that leaders need to step up and organize the explanation. To remove the confusion. Simple is memorable. Simple stories, simple examples, simple “if—thens” are what consumers need.  With this out of the way, marketers can then provide the ability for a deeper information dive. (Think iPhone. Not iMultipleDevices.)

Some businesses benefit from complexity. Law. Finance. Privacy. Accounting. And insurance.  Nothing is too hard to explain and make understandable.  Sometimes marketers are too close and can’t see the simple explanation. This is why technology companies have a hard time branding.


As for the use of education in advertising and marketing, we need to do more. A Dorito chip bouncing around a room on a Super Bowl ad is not educating anybody.  It’s much like sitting in the same class over and over again. Leaders educate. Let’s lead. Peace. 


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Google published a nice usable ad in the New York Times today, the visual for which is the oft used name tag with the line “Hello My Name is Dave.”  The copy started off with a little explanation of how cumbersome it would be if every time you met someone you had to tell them your name, age and where you are from.   So with heads nodding the copy goes on to suggest this would also be cumbersome every time you visited a website.  The solution, says Google, are cookies:  “tiny little crumbs of stored information to remember your previous visits.”  Doesn’t sound so bad.  And for those who don’t know what a cookie is, it’s a nice little explanation.  My mom would understand this (if she could find the URL bar.)

In a time when privacy (which rhymes with piracy) is extremely topical, this simplified, non-judgmental explanation of cookies is, as the Brits say, quite lovely. The copy explains cookies can be shut off and provides a link to other information about privacy.  (Google Chrome has some elegant solutions, btw.)

Google knows so much and now they seem to have conquered the science of advertising. Simple is better. One idea at a time.  Engage.  Leaders educate and this ad demonstrates both qualities.  Another Google +. Peace.

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