TikTok takes over

Have You Had a Snackable Video Today?

Unless you’re still using a flip phone, you’ve probably noticed that short-form “snackable” videos are trending. Whether it’s YouTube Shorts, TikTok, or Instagram and Facebook Reels, these little videos capture an ever-increasing percentage of our mobile screen time. Think 30-60 seconds.

According to Hubspot, 85% of marketers say that short-form videos are the most effective format on social media and that it ranks first in lead generation and engagement.

And, of course, brands are getting in on the act. Anywhere there's a gathering of consumer eyeballs, a brand will find a way to get there.

Some brands are creating their own videos, and some our teaming up with "influencers" and "creators" who already have robust followings and proven content strategies. If an influencer touts your product to their following, you're almost guaranteed a bump in sales. Consult your local TikTok aficionado, and I'm sure they can fill you in on brands like Scrubdaddy and The Pink Stuff, not to mention a myriad of hair and makeup products that have gained fame through videos on social media. Medical pros can even show off how they do things like reprocess surgical instruments.

Keep it Real

Big-time productions with huge budgets and video shoots are out. Production values don't seem to impact whether a video goes viral. Originality, humor, and genuineness are more important than professional production values when it comes to touting the value of your latest medical device or showing how your newest product can impact the consumer.. This means it's much easier for brands with smaller budgets to get into the game. Heck, you can even shoot and edit your videos with a smartphone!

Most brands are sticking with keeping their videos funny, interesting, and helpful versus the ol’ hard sell, keeping social shareability in mind. An absolute no-no is to come off sounding too “corporate.”

Social media policy

Where the Rubber Hits the Road – Case Study

The saga of Bendy, that little fellah above, started with our monthly shipment from Archie McPhee – a large plastic bottle jammed with gewgaws, cheap plastic charms, novelty items, and yes, Bendy. We looked at the emoji-like character, and eureka! The solution to a difficult advertising problem had just dropped onto our laps.

Introducing a New Spokesperson

The campaign introduced three products – a premium examination chair, a budget instrument stand and a room light control. The challenge was to produce a unified campaign under an existing theme, “practically/immortal,” which highlighted the brand’s durability. Enter, Bendy.

Bendy Catches Fire

Bendy created quite a stir in the market, and viral things started to happen. A doctor in Japan mailed a tiny Bendy to our client, a photographer took him on vacation, others brought Bendy ads to tradeshows. Notes and comments ensued. We had a hit on our hands that made a significant contribution to our client’s bottom line. Budget for spokesperson: $1.99.

Do you have a product crying for differentiation? Let’s talk about how we can help, and we’ll send you a free Bendy for your trouble. Call 513-967-6480 or email Susan Abramovitz.

Content ideas for medical devices

TikTok Vs. Google: The Battle for Search

I just read something that kind of blew my mind.

And although I’ve suspected something like this for a while now, based on what’s happening in my own household, it still caught me a bit by surprise.

It seems younger people are going to TikTok first to search out information. Forget about Google (or Bing, or Alta Vista, or Ask Jeeves, or whatever else the oldsters are using); they go straight to TikTok. According to data shared by a Senior VP at Google, about 40% of young people use TikTok or Instagram instead of Google for search. But isn’t TikTok just filled with lots of silliness, dances, practical jokes, and assorted mayhem? Well, yes, but it’s also filled with information. And it’s information in a very visual format, which seems to be preferred by Generation Z.

I conferred with my resident expert (my 13-year-old daughter) to confirm.

“Yep,” she said. “it’s true.” It’s TikTok first, and then Google. And Pinterest is also in there somewhere as a source. And Instagram.

Wow. This will change the lens we look through when we're advising clients on SEO, social media, website building, etc.

Much to think about.

What do you think? Are we looking at a paradigm shift, or is it much ado about nothing? Please tell us your thoughts!

Send comments to Ben Singleton

avoiding content decline

Switch to Google Analytics 4, or else

The world is changing, and we’re not talking about climate. On July 1, 2023, Google is closing the curtain on GA 3 (Google Analytics 3) and replacing it with GA. GA 4 isn’t an upgrade, like the Hummingbird and Bert updates, it’s a new beast, and your participation is not optional.

GA 4 – The Basics

The new version, which has been available since 2020, relies heavily on machine learning (artificial intelligence) to zero-in on engagement and conversions. The critical stuff you need to know about the behavior of your audience.

A conversion might be as simple as a visit to a particular page, a landing on the shopping cart, or an email sign-up form fill. You can also layer any dimension of your audience (demographics, source of the visit, or the path through your site, etc.) to gain insights, for example, who, what, and why visitors are or are not converting. You identify and set up the conversion points.

Why GA 4 now?

Heightened controls and expectations of privacy are impacting traditional data collection — for example, usage of third-party cookies and device identifiers. Also, many browsers moving forward won’t support them.

Regulations around the globe, for example, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), are impacting how data can be collected and used.

Overall, GA 4 is a massive step forward in measuring audience data that impacts your business objectives.

Our recommendations

  1. Have your developer add Google’s demonstration site, which is almost fully functional, to your account. It’s a live site that collects data from the Google Store.
  2. Whether you’re a developer or a normal person, take advantage of the free training Google offers. You can get the basics in 30-45 minutes.
  3. Install GA 4 on your site and use GA 3 and G4 simultaneously to familiarize yourself with the differences between the two and get the lay of the land.
  4. Switch to GA 4 long before Google’s deadline on July 1, 2023.

Because people don’t like change in general, so there’s been some crazy talk about switching to third-party alternatives modeled more closely to GA 3. Beware. No company has the resources or investment in search and web analytics that Google has.

Good luck with your GA 4 journey!

Sources: Google Support, Klick, Search Engine Journal

Send comments to Bill Abramovitz

LinkedIn's problem with links

When the Cover-Up Is Worse than the Crime

Sometimes politicians step right in it with both feet. And CEOs. And brands. And, well, heck, all of us. The trick to mitigating the crap on your shoes is to be forthright with your audiences when it happens.

The governor of California, Gavin Newsome, recently learned this lesson the hard way. When he wanted to take a little vacation (and visit the in-laws), his staff kept it on the down low. His destination was Montana, and California currently has a no-official-business-travel-to-Montana policy due to their different opinions about a few social issues. But his visit wasn't official, wasn't paid for with public funds, and for goodness sake, included a visit to his kids' grandparents, so what's the big deal?

The rub is that all other trips the governor makes, both official state business and personal, are released by his staff in some detail. But it seems the governor (or someone on his team) decided the optics of a trip to Montana in the current political climate might be icky. So, they just said he would be out but neglected to say where. Red flags erupted, and the pundits began sharpening their knives. And when the staff was less than forthcoming about the governor's whereabouts, it became a news story.

If he had just been upfront about a personal vacation to Montana at no tax-payer expense, it wouldn't have made a blip in the news cycle, outside of a few political rags that wanted to make a little hay. But it smelled more than a little disingenuous.

And in many cases, the cover-up will burn you more than the misstep.

Tell the Truth

This is a good lesson for companies, too. Occasionally, there will be a misstep -- A faulty medical device launched, unexpected side effects from a pharmaceutical, a CEO prone to misdeeds, or some financial shenanigans from the C-suite. The key to recovering from the faux pas is to be upfront, forthright, and transparent and put a plan in place to fix the problem.

The public can forgive a mistake, but hiding a problem behind a veil of smoke and mirrors will end up turning what might have been a minor problem into an enormous one.

If your company needs help developing a crisis communication plan before a crisis happens, drop us a line, we can help.

Send comments to Ben Singleton


American Flag

Develop Consumer Insight for Medical Device Launches

A few years back, I asked for salt at an upscale restaurant. The haughty maître d responded, "There's no reason for salt. The food is perfect when it comes out of the kitchen." It reminded me of handoffs from R&D and manufacturing to marketing. "The product is perfect the way it is," and, by the way, here are the specs that will sell it." Sometimes their suggestions are spot on, and sometimes they're way off. And you're stuck selling the product without any real consumer insight.

What is customer insight?

Usually, it's a strategic idea based on crawling into the head of the buyer to understand their perceptions of the product, barriers to sale, and the product position in the market and vis-a-vis of the competition.

Research cancels a launch


A great example of failing to develop consumer understanding comes from our research project for a large multinational. Before launch, we moderated a set of focus groups to gauge doctors' reactions to a new diagnostic device. The consistent feedback was that none of the doctors needed the tool, and they would, at most, pay no more than $100 for the $15,000 product. The launch was canceled. Though disappointing, the medical device company saved thousands of dollars on marketing, tradeshow presence, and sales force education.

Probing for Insight

Whether you pursue formal focus groups (the best) or granny research (not so much), you need to talk with and listen to consumers. The earlier in the development process, the better.

Granny research is usually conducted by someone in the marketing department (like you). Typically, it's handled over lunch or on the phone for a one-on-one. You'll concisely outline the product to them, determine interest, likelihood to purchase, reaction to the device's appearance, if you have a prototype or a rendering, and even pricing. The results will be biased because you'll know the people you're talking to, and they won't want to disappoint.

Real Research

By contrast, focus groups (qualitative research) are conducted anonymously by an outside agency, like Biotica, to prevent bias. A trained moderator, who is familiar with your product, will lead the group. They'll sequence questions in the proper order, pose them to prevent bias, and react to strategy or creative boards. The respondents will be randomly selected from a list of doctors or other consumers. Then you can segment the group to create segments, for example, current customers and non-customers.

The feedback will be more detailed and actionable, and you can gain feedback about marketing approaches and product positioning. If you're using research to make a high-stakes decision, like "no" or "not go," you'll want a quantitative study (surveys, for example) with a much larger respondent base that can report answers with a probability similar to a poll with a margin of error.

Yes, research is an investment, but one with high returns, like consumer insight that profoundly impacts your launch's success.

Humans still need to make decisions based on research, but you deserve to work with the best information available.

Are you ready to develop consumer insight via research? Call Susan at 513-967-6480 or schedule time for a chat on her calendar.