For many, medical marketing may not invoke ideas of glamorous and imaginative marketing concepts that those in the creative industry view as desirable. However, medical marketing, along with other industries that are being increasingly regulated, such as tobacco, alcohol and finances, are becoming the pioneering developers of the most progressive and inventive forms of marketing around today.
Simply defined, the regulated market is one where a brand is prohibited from talking about itself or its benefits directly with its end consumer. Removing the common avenues that typical everyday brands often over-saturate and fumble in makes dark marketing, as it is more commonly known, a highly innovative and precise section of the marketing sphere.
Marketing 'in the dark'
Though the terminology may conjure up images of underhanded and dubious marketing techniques, 'dark' marketing is far from this. It refers to the concept of marketing 'in the dark', without the use of media that are visible, open and accessible to everyday audiences.
For those looking to hone their skills on cutting-edge marketing concepts that require highly progressive and 'out of the box' solutions, dark marketing is the arena to be in.
Medical marketing itself has, however, suffered in the past from a clinical and boring image, but medical companies are now actively seeking to change this perception and make use of fresh and creative ideas in order to market their wares.
Progressive clients are beginning to realise that opportunities are there to break the mould and unleash creativity within the industry. Take pharmacies, for instance: the commonly accepted rules of visual literacy don't seem to apply when you walk into the pharmaceutical area and this is possibly one area with the most opportunity for creative work.
The magic of dark marketing, however, is that you don't see it at work, unlike so many other forms of marketing. It takes much more of an understanding of consumer's and clients' psychology and habits to effectively market a product.
It also takes a thorough understanding of the laws surrounding regulated marketing. This is also another reason that many don't see the creativity behind the marketing; due to its 'dark' or unobtrusive nature, many people don't get to see the marketing openly. Yet it's still working at a much deeper level.
Never exposed to the creativity
Print ads of medical products may look more clinical, and the direct communication tactics tend to be highly creative with very large budgets, but consumers may never be exposed to the creativity.
This makes it an industry that creates challenging environments for creatives. Copy writers who are eager to learn more can probably not find another industry that offers such a wide variety of new information.
New technologies and media channels are just a few of the tools used in the dark marketing arsenal.
Very real ideas
Consider ideas used in movies such as 'The Joneses'; these are very real ideas that are making inroads into dark marketing fields, along with product placements in games, mobile applications and other consumer media. In the medical field, there are many similar marketing devices, all waiting to be exploited, which cater to needs, not wants.
In the world of dark marketing you have to think smarter to achieve your objectives. It's true that much of the marketing in this field is currently mediocre but this is not due to constraints on creativity or imagination; the category is just waiting to be broken. It needs the designers and creative people who want to pioneer a new way of thinking, who break the mould of medical advertising.
Craig Lyon is brand practitioner and director for Potency Communications (www.po10c.com), a specialised healthcare marketing company that is a division of OwenKessel. His extensive experience covers brands within the healthcare, IT, FMCG, tourism and beverage industries. Contact Craig on +27 (0)11 705 0200 or email .
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