When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in March 2020, the medical device company Bioventus needed to adjust to new challenges when marketing products to healthcare providers. One of their products is EXOGEN, a low-intensity pulsed ultrasound device that helps heal bone fractures.
The patient self-administers the ultrasound treatment for 20 minutes a day while sitting and relaxing at home. Nothing about COVID changed this, but we felt it valuable to re-emphasize the low-contact, at-home, self-care aspects of EXOGEN when speaking with healthcare providers. To do this, we developed an integrated, branded campaign called The EXOGEN @Home Experience.
Working with an art director I developed a short PowerPoint presentation to convey Blue Cross NC's strategy and tactics to bring the state's opioid epidemic under control. I collaborated with the corporate communications team and internal health care specialists to create this. The audience for the slideshow is employers, government officials and other community leaders.
Every year, one out of every five adults in the U.S. experiences some form of mental illness. About 80% of visits to a doctor are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Yet seeking help is still stigmatized.
This campaign is meant to help people show themselves love, and go and get some help. A creative challenge was to make the message work within the Blue Cross "Live Fearless" campaign, because people in emotional distress are unlikely to be feeling bold, confident, or 'fearless.' The solution was to express a new meaning to fearless: to ask for help. The video above is for YouTube pre-roll, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Here's a static post:
:30 livestream commercial on Pandora, with accompanying static banner below:
All of the creative clicks through to a website about how to seek out help and talk to your doctor about your concerns.
My team just launched a content campaign called Better Eating, Better Health. The overall goal of the campaign is to continue to raise positive brand awareness for Blue Cross NC. The campaign informs people about the health benefits of Nutrition Counseling, lets them know it's covered by Blue Cross NC plans, and helps them find a nearby Nutritionist. My role is overall editor and lead writer.
We worked with the popular star of the PBS show A Chef's Life, Kinston-based Chef Vivian Howard, teaming her with Nutritionist Tracy Owens. Elements include a microsite hub — BlueCrossNC.com/Nutrition — with informative articles, blog posts, and videos. We use social media and eNewsletters to drive people to the site, and encourage repeat traffic over a period of several months.
Social tactics include Instagram swipe-ups with short videos of Vivian, and placing exclusive recipes on Pinterest. Before launch, we worked to grow our list of eNews subscribers by hosting a sweepstakes contest on Facebook to attract Vivian's fans:
The Facebook contest garnered thousands of entries and new email addresses in its first few days. Here's a sample of eNews content we pushed:
Video plays an important part of the campaign. Here are some of the :15 "Snackable" pieces of content that appear as YouTube pre-roll:
Here's another "ingredient swap" video featuring Vivian's dad, John Howard. He's got a touch of "the sugar" - diabetes - so Vivian has altered his favorite dish, spaghetti, and removed a lot of the carbs:
I interviewed Vivian for a "Faces of Fearless" story that's part of Blue Cross' national Live Fearless campaign. I take the interviewee's words and then edit into a first-person post. A bit of it is below; you can read her story at LiveFearlessNC.com.
I'm proud to be part of the team that created the 2017 online video campaign entitled "You Got It." For our efforts we were presented with an Aster award recognizing excellence in healthcare marketing.
BACKGROUND: The health care system is complicated; that's not big news to anyone. My assignment was to show & tell what the company is doing to make things easier. This campaign is for Blue Connect, their suite of online tools.
Here's a sample of the videos, social ads, banners, and radio spots in this integrated campaign.
A handful of the web banners:
"Facts" :30 Radio spot
I've been working for about a year on the Faces of Fearless campaign for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. Hosted at LiveFearlessNC.com, the campaign highlights inspirational stories of Blue Cross members who 'live fearless' — whether facing illness, changing careers, or starting a new business. Writing this campaign involves my interviewing subjects, writing up their stories, video production, and writing the social media posts and emails that drive readers to the site. This example features UNC Basketball Head Coach Roy Williams, and his lesser known early days and struggles growing up poor in the western part of North Carolina.
Here's part of the e-Newsletter that pushed people to the web story:
Here's the Facebook push:
And here's the story that appeared on the site...
Coach Roy Williams
Basketball helped him overcome a tough childhood, and gave him a path for life
This January, UNC Basketball Head Coach Roy Williams was celebrating an impressive 800th career win at Carolina. The world-renowned and respected Williams took questions from the press, but then, in characteristically humble fashion, paused to point out the man standing at the back of the room, 85-year-old Buddy Baldwin.
“Buddy Baldwin was my coach, at T.C. Roberson High School. He was the first person in my life to give me confidence. He was the first person to make me feel like I could accomplish something.”
Roy was lucky to have someone like Baldwin to look up to at a young age.
Williams, who grew up in Asheville, has said he can still close his eyes and see his mother, her raven-black hair pulled back, standing over an ironing board at night with piles of other folks' clothes at her feet after already putting in a full day at a factory job. He doesn't remember her ever taking a vacation. As a mother of two — Roy and his older sister, Frances — and as the ex-wife of an alcoholic whose life had spun out of control, Lallage Williams had all she could do to provide for her family.
"For several years there, I really felt my mom had to battle every day to make things go, so that on Friday she could pay this bill and that and then have enough left for food," Roy says.
When things were particularly tough between his Mom and Dad, she’d pick up and move her and the kids to a motel or a trailer in a motor court for safety. Predictability was definitely not there for young Roy. But he says, “I found escape, on the basketball court. I used to go at night, when the exit signs were at both ends of the court, and that was the only light because I didn’t want anybody to know I was in there. I could go in there by myself and I could forget everything else that was going on.”
“Coach Baldwin would be the first to say I was a serviceable player at best – but he saw other things in me. A drive to work hard, to give a task its all – and not give up. I think he knew that I could achieve, and he helped me to see it. I guess you could say he saw ‘fearless’ in me. Well I’m forever in his debt. It was the summer after my ninth-grade year I decided I wanted to become a basketball coach. His encouragement gave me the foundation I needed.”
Some videos I wrote for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC, featuring soccer star (and now Mom) Mia Hamm.
Along with the countless articles out there extolling the wisdom of engaging in content marketing, there are some naysayers. In my observation, the majority of content-marketing-cynics "came up" in the business during an era, not very long ago at all, when marketing was Advertising-only. I believe the resistance to content marketing is primarily based in Fear. People like to keep doing what they've been doing; it's just more comfortable that way. To change, perhaps even drastically, in order to keep up with the times in your industry, can be a threatening concept.
I admit that I, too, was initially cynical about it, because I learned my craft of copywriting during an era of Advertising. I have since come to be a believer in and earnest practitioner of content marketing AND advertising.
Why? At this point in time it should be pretty obvious. Given the revolution in how we consume messages and have taken control of how we search out products and services, any brand would be foolish to keep their head in the sand.
To me, content marketing is another tool in the tool belt.
You use the tools that make sense to engage the interest of your target audience(s), where they live, and how they live. You do what works. This has always been the case.
As an example, I worked on Jiffy Lube business in the early 2000's — the Los Angeles and San Diego franchise group. The marketing tools that made the most sense then and there were radio commercials and outdoor billboards. You spoke to people when they were captive in their cars, likely to be aware of strange new noises coming up from under the hood, more likely than not to be receptive to a message that said, hey, if it's been awhile, go get an oil change, because it will help you to keep your car running smoothly. It was entertaining creative, because it needed to be; getting an oil change is not exactly a high-interest sell. So we made people smile with our advertising. (Yes I can use that word without cringing; it is advertising and I'm proud of it. Part of the pride comes from knowing that it worked. The radio ran on a rotating schedule, and during the weeks that it aired, more cars drove into Jiffy Lube stores. When the radio spots weren't airing, the numbers dropped. It was like magic.)
If I was Southern California Jiffy Lube's marketing consultant today, I would recommend that they continue to be on the radio and on billboards, because it still makes sense to remain top of mind; but I would highly encourage online content as part of the new mix. Why? Because people don't trust car mechanics very much, certainly ones that are part of a big national company. The more actual stories of human, friendly, helpful interactions between Jiffy Lube employees and customers that you can share, helps to build trust. Then, as people search online for the nearest oil change place, Jiffy Lube earns a higher ranking in people's minds, because they've got a better story to tell and share.
They could tell a story like the one that happened to me here in North Carolina.
A while ago, I needed to install a new headlight bulb in my car, and couldn't manage to fit my fat thumbs into the tiny space to install the bulb. The woman at the auto parts store told me that Jiffy Lube (right next door), would do that for me. I brought the car next door, asked about the installation, and was told it would be $10 to do so. I said sure. They put the bulb in. They said, have a good day! I said, what about the charge? They said, skip it. (Yes, they were kind of busy, and maybe it served them not to take more time to take my ten dollars, but on the other hand, it was a friendly and helpful gesture that I have not yet forgotten, about 10 months later). Would I consider that store the next time I needed an oil change? Yes.
Simple stories. Relevant and memorable stories. Informative stories that people may find of interest, and help to build a brand's reputation. To me, this defines good (and effective) content marketing. And it can be ever more powerful when the stories are told by your customers. I'm all in. How about you?
My client ShopBot Tools is getting ready to launch the latest version of their Handibot Smart Power Tool. It's pretty cool: a portable tool that cuts, carves and mills wood, plastics, even soft metals like aluminum. And you can drive it wirelessly from your phone or tablet. Here's the headline for a series of stories we're putting together:
The most effective marketing being great content, we were super pleased that Michael Fogleman shared his story of making wall art with a Handibot.
A new campaign deserves a new rallying tagline. The best part about it is, it's not something artificial that gets "slapped onto the product." It evolves quite naturally out of the many stories of people using the Handibot to carve their own path.
to my blog. It's called
Michael Berliner is an experienced copywriter based in the Triangle area of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill). Get in touch with Michael