Phil Hoch

Setting the mood

Using mood boards to start your brand down the right path

“Do you sketch out your ideas before you execute?” I think I’ve asked this question to just about every art director or designer I’ve ever worked with or interviewed. The reason I ask is to make sure that their thoughts are worked out on paper before going too quickly into an execution. Think of mood boards as a sketch of a brand—a critical early step in capturing the heart of a brand before getting in the weeds. They force you to get your story and foundational brand elements in order before jumping the gun and creating random marketing tactics.

Mood boards are deceptively simple. They are a visual combination of color, typography, graphic elements including maybe photography or illustration, and of course copy tone and voice. They are like a poster that captures the most important elements of your brand, all in one shot. And that takes experience.

Good mood boards have depth. This depth comes from a healthy dose of listening, research and insight. They have some meat to them. A real story. And that’s even before the visual part comes in. The best mood boards tap into the heart of a company. They make you “feel” a brand. Once the “feel” is nailed, then it’s OK to carry out execution across multiple channels and media.

Mood boards ensure your brand has legs. When considering the style, voice and visuals of a brand, one must look forward to how these elements will come together over multiple platforms and fit the needs of multiple audiences such as patients, physicians, caregivers and executives. It has to always feel and look like the same brand even though your audiences could be vastly different.

Mood boards are nothing new, but many tend to skip this step and go right into execution of tactical elements. Maybe it’s because deadlines have become tighter and tighter as technology gets better and better. I advise carving out space in the brand development process to sketch out your brand to make sure it stands for who you are, how it’s relevant to your customers, and how it can twist and turn with your many changes as time goes on. You’ll be glad you did.

To see real life examples of brand mood boards, check some out on Pinterest.

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Ellen Schuller

Brace Yourself—the ACA Will Significantly Change Healthcare Marketing

Our own Director of Strategy Ellen Schuller is featured in the most recent “PM360 Think Tank,” which asks 12 industry leaders to weigh in on the ACA’s impact on the medical device industry. Ellen discusses the shift toward a more data-driven, value-based marketing model and offers examples of how clients and agencies are changing their approaches.

The ACA’s Impact on the Medical Device Industry

How detrimental the medical device tax will (or will not) be for industry profitability, jobs and innovation remains up for discussion. However, there seems to be little doubt that the transition from volume- to value-based healthcare will significantly change to whom and how manufacturers market their devices. As relationship selling and physician-preference products give way to supply chain centralization, consolidation and standardization, manufacturers and their agencies are moving toward a more data-driven, value-based marketing model. The following are just a few factors changing how clients and agencies are working together.

Sales Force Realignment. Manufacturers are creating tiered sales force structures—specialized sales teams focusing on integrated delivery networks and territory representatives providing support and implementation at the local level. Agencies need to understand clients’ selling strategies, be adept in crafting messages for a variety of audiences, and be able to design tools and training for a variety of sales skills and situations.

Data-driven Sales. The new healthcare buyer is driven by data—financial and clinical. Agencies need to understand what drives purchase at all levels, help clients generate and present meaningful data, and develop interactive selling tools that enable real-time customization.

Comparative Effectiveness. Comparative effectiveness and patient-centered outcomes data will radically transform the competitive and reimbursement landscape. Agencies need to develop strategies around post-market data that influence provider, payer and patient decision-making.
Transparency and collaboration between client and agency, which have always been important, are now imperative. Client-agency teamwork is a critical success factor in the rapidly changing healthcare industry.

Click here, to read the entire PM360 article

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Paul Lyrek

Aligning Your Sales Force

Your entire organization needs to be aligned with your digital communications and content strategy. Doing so will help you make the most of multichannel marketing opportunities while delivering a consistent brand experience.

To do that, you’ll need to:

  • Align your digital marketing with your traditional marketing
  • Assign a dedicated team to create and manage content marketing, sales, PR and training needs
  • Drive your digital persona throughout the organization to ensure that marketing, sales, engineering, IT, R&D, manufacturing and legal are using a consistent voice and personality across their digital media communications


Your sales force plays a key role in the success of your digital strategy. They are often in direct contact with customers, and need to be both informed and empowered to react in real time to client online interactions with your brands and products.

Begin by ensuring you:

  • Involve your sales reps in the process from the beginning
  • Inform your sales reps of your digital and content marketing strategies
  • Provide training that will help them identify customers’ needs and where they are in the buying journey
  • Implement tools and policies that support your sales reps’ communication efforts with customers
  • Automate communication between sales and marketing
  • Implement real-time content management, customization and tracking


Go here for a handy list of marketing automation platforms that can help you streamline these steps.

Go here to download Paul’s four-part digital marketing strategy series, complete with all the examples.

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Paul Lyrek

Understanding Your Customers’ Journey

Fostering valuable relationships with your customers begins with understanding not just who they are but what they need and when they need it. Once you have created your digital persona, it’s time to define how you wish to communicate with them.

These five basic principles can go a long way toward ensuring your customers see you as a valuable resource and not an intrusion.

  1. Be true to yourself. Align all communications with your digital persona, or you risk undermining your credibility and confusing your audience.
  2. Encourage conversation. Give your customers a way to participate in the conversation through comments, retweets, shares or response forms. One-way communication does not build relationships.
  3. Tell the truth. Content should be consistently genuine and factual. If not, you risk legal repercussions and the loss of your customers’ trust.
  4. Be deliberate and responsive. Over-posting can become white noise. To keep your audience engaged, be sure your posting is valuable, useful or relevant to the audience. Think about where, when and how often you communicate. And make sure you respond to any comments.
  5. Stay relevant. Focus your content on your customers’ needs, challenges, goals and their place in the buying journey, and you’re more likely to be perceived as a valuable partner.


Communicate throughout the buying journey

The buying journey varies from business to business, but typically moves through these phases:

  • Attracting customers
  • Securing interest
  • Showing intention
  • Providing support
  • Building loyalty
  • Promoting advocacy


With the right mix of digital marketing channels and content, you can effectively move your customers through each phase of the buying cycle.

For more information on each phase, download our infographic here.


Paul Lyrek

The Importance of a Digital Persona

A solid digital strategy begins with establishing a company-based digital persona. Here we’ll explore what a digital persona is and how it can elevate your organization’s online marketing.

To create and sustain strong customer relationships, you need to know who you are as a company and how you want your customers to experience and interact with your business or product online. You may already have a brand or company persona, but a digital-specific persona allows you to define how you want to be represented across online communication channels.

What is a digital persona?

A digital persona represents your company, brand or product as though it were a person. It reflects your style, attitude and personality. It shapes what you want your customers to think, feel and believe about your business. It’s not your brand, product positioning or messaging; it’s not your logo, color palette or type treatment; and it’s definitely not your mission, vision or values. All of these may inform it but, put simply, your digital persona is a guidepost for your company’s online communications with your customers.

An important preliminary step is to use focus groups, customer insight surveys or other market research tools to understand how your online presence is currently perceived by your audience. These insights can help ensure that your digital persona accurately reflects your company and resonates with your customers. Here are the four steps necessary to create a digital persona for your company.

Step 1: Create an overview

Start with the image of a person, place or object that you believe accurately represents your company, brand or product personality at a glance. Now add a few words to help define that personality. For example, if you were to choose an image of Steve Jobs for your overview, your description might be:

Innovative; risk taker; not afraid of failure; pushes self and others out of their comfort zones to achieve more and master their craft; an ideal blend of maturity, experience and vigor

An effective overview should quickly and easily let everyone in your company understand the personality and character you strive to project online.

 Step 2: Define your values

To help further describe your digital persona, consider a few adjectives and statements that describe how you want to be perceived by customers. This includes both what your customers can and can’t expect. Some of these values may verge on aspirational but don’t stray too far from what you, and your customers, know to be true. For example:  

Smart, confident, clear

Helpful without micromanaging

Serious but never dull

Step 3: Define your voice

Your voice builds upon your brand values and conveys your digital persona through written words. It speaks for your company or product, and includes both what you say and how you say it. A consistent brand voice can be used as a starting point for your digital strategy, and can help shape content that is spread across multiple digital channels to feel like it’s coming from a single source.

Just as in real life, the tone of your voice will vary depending on whom you are talking to, the communication channel you’re using and where customers are in the purchasing cycle. For example, a 140-character tweet announcing an upcoming event calls for a slightly different writing style than a blog post that conveys in-depth knowledge. It can be helpful to think of tone as a sliding scale between two extremes: formal vs. informal, professional vs. amateur, stern vs. friendly, etc.

Step 4: Define your communication channels

Once you have created your digital persona, you are in a great position to plan, implement and manage your organization’s online presence. Should you launch a blog? Develop a mobile app? Connect through Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or LinkedIn? It all depends on what you want to achieve, how you want to connect with customers and what can be accomplished within each channel.

Representing your company, brand or product through a consistent digital-specific persona is essential to building trust with your customers as you interact online. Share your digital persona with everyone in the company to help ensure their online communications align with it.

To view and download an example of a digital persona, visit