Today’s consumer is exposed to hundreds of advertisements every day, and total “brand exposures” can range from 3,000 to 20,000 per day. These figures include print and television ads, passing by a label in a grocery store, ads in a consumer’s mailbox, labels on garments and on items in a consumer’s refrigerator and pantry, cars on the highway, and anything else that exposes a consumer to a brand. To break through the clutter, companies are changing their strategic focus and creating unique marketing tactics to increase consumer engagement with their brand.
Unique and engaging tactics
One way brands are engaging consumers through print is by pairing traditional marketing tactics with unique and creative ideas. Dr. Scholl’s, for example, ran an ad in a magazine that encouraged side-by-side comparison of their product by offering consumers “mate-less” insoles in the magazine ad. The company included a single insole affixed to thick stock paper within the magazine. The insoles could be removed from the magazine and inserted into a sandal or shoe. Mate-less insoles are also available to consumers by visiting the company’s Facebook page. During the time this ad ran in Glamour magazine, 37% of readers reported trying out the product and 58% of them said they planned to purchase the product.
When consumers are considering a purchase, they often look for unbiased information. Research shows that 84% of consumers make purchases after learning about a product in a blog post. Consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 ranked blogs as the most valuable source of information before making a purchase, and among consumers aged 35 to 54, blogs ranked as the second most important source of product information behind friends, family, and colleagues.
Brands are embracing the notion of establishing themselves as thought leaders and experts in their industry through the effective use of content marketing. Flonase, the makers of an allergy relief nasal spray, partnered with The Weather Channel to create an Allergy Tracker for their website. Users can allow the website to identify their specific location and get current and forecasted levels of pollen and mold, as well as a breathing index. The website also provides information on coping with allergies. This content establishes the brand as the expert on allergies, therefore staying front of mind and encouraging consumers to purchase their products when they are in need.
Unique and attention-grabbing point-of-purchase displays allow brands to engage with consumers at various touch-points throughout the store to maximize exposure and stand out from the standard shelving units.
Allergy relief brand, Zyrtec, is an example of a successful conversion from prescription to over-the-counter (OTC). To launch its OTC marketing strategy, the company created 20 different point-of-purchase display styles with coupons and other forms of attention-grabbing signage for use in a variety of retail locations. Working in conjunction with Walmart, Zyrtec established a new marketing standard for brands within the retail chain because of their unique point-of-purchase displays.
Another example is the Dr. Scholl’s brand deploying their “foot mapping” technology at kiosks located at various retailers. A consumer stands on a platform at the kiosk and follows the on-screen prompts to find their custom-fit orthotics number. Insoles identified by number are available for selection right at the kiosk. The company supports this marketing strategy on its website with videos, explanations of their foot mapping technology and orthotics products, and customer reviews.
As the growth of influencer marketing begins to outpace traditional marketing methods, most marketers are expanding their influencer marketing budget. For the OTC consumer industry, the approach must be strategic, leveraging the effectiveness of influencer marketing while balancing the uncertainty of social media marketing. Consumer reviews and recommendations are one of the most trusted forms of advertising, with over 90% of consumers trusting online recommendations from people they know. Pfizer has deployed an effort to start conversations and educate consumers by teaming with Smiley360, an online community where consumers can try products for free and share their opinions.
Trust is the important factor affecting content marketing and PR today
In today’s marketing environment, it’s harder than ever for brands to build trust, and it takes very little to destroy it.
What this means for over-the-counter retailers
Over-the-counter brands should focus their content marketing on what their consumers need. By providing helpful content, brands build trust and respect. It’s important for brands to continually offer fresh content and also direct consumers to the content of trusted influencers.
Because consumers often view sponsored content with suspicion, brands need to consider shifting some of their marketing budget and efforts away from advertising to a more balanced approach between paid and unpaid media.
A loyalty program can be an effective way for OTC brands to create trust. 87% of consumers say they like loyalty programs, and 73% say a loyalty program demonstrates that a company is loyal to them as consumers.
What you should do
Begin with solid research. Understand the keywords people use when they conduct a search and focus content marketing efforts on the features of your product that are most important to consumers.
Create a plan that includes multiple touch points. Consider ways to encourage engagement on social media. When launching Prilosec, Procter & Gamble (P&G) combined a product giveaway campaign with a contest. People were encouraged to upload their videos for a chance to win cash to pursue things they would do after getting relief for their heartburn. Not only did P&G engage consumers in the entire marketing campaign, but they were also successful at associating their product with people’s passions.
Develop a strategy for encouraging consumers to post reviews and engage in conversations with your brand. A portion of your marketing effort should be focused on content marketing that provides useful information for consumers and establishes your brand as an authority. Content marketing represents a particularly good opportunity for OTC brands because consumers frequently search for ways to resolve minor medical issues.
Strategically create point-of-purchase displays that use combinations of images, audio, and video, along with traditional marketing tactics to grab the attention and engage the consumer in a variety of ways.
Ensure that you have clear metrics by which to measure your results. Begin with a clear set of goals — for example, building brand awareness or increasing conversion rate — and then identify the appropriate metrics for determining your return on investment (ROI).
Competition for the consumer’s attention is fierce. To make your brand stand out in the world of content overload requires a focus on combining traditional marketing strategies with evolving trends. For OTC brands, both the challenges and the opportunities for effective marketing are unique. Drawing on examples of success by other brands and developing creative tactics to keep consumers engaged is an essential part of OTC marketing in today’s environment.