I was that kid. The one who turned the refrigerator box into an airplane. The actual output of this endeavor was not particularly pretty.

I grew up to be a copywriter. But those experiences and that ability to envision something surprising based on the limitations of form were ideal training for the fundamental challenge of creating great medical marketing.

Traditional creative demands “out-of-the-box thinking.” Traditional medical creative demands “inside the medical-regulatory-legal box thinking.” Great medical creative demands strategy that rethinks the box.

Good Creative Motivates

We judge creative not only by how much it makes our spines tingle, but most critically, by its ability to motivate recalcitrant and apathetic audiences to take action. It’s impossible to create work like that unless it’s clear what our prospects think today, what we want them to think, and ultimately, what we want them to do.

That’s the blueprint for killer strategy. And, from our point of view, a well-defined set of confinements. As our resident grand old man of advertising (Cannes Lion, Gold Clio, One Show Pencil) consistently says, “Give me the smallest box possible.”

It is only with the smallest box that every nook, cranny, and corner can be explored. A giant box can only be lightly surveyed. The largest box of all (“Do whatever you want”) is a formula for thrashing about until the team drowns in an open pit of possibilities.

Our box builders—our brand strategy colleagues—bring a wide range of academic and personal experiences to the art of defining how a product can be successful. Some are MBAs. Some are long-time consumer marketers. One may have read more trial protocols than any other human on the planet.

But each of them are intensely curious and deeply learned on the psychology of human and ecosystem behaviors. They never assume, but always question. They hold themselves to that high bar—seeking to define the singular, differentiating, and valuable position for a new treatment, procedure, or diagnostic. It needs to be defensible, compliant, and dramatic enough to change the lives of prospects. A tiny, inspiring box.

Sure, we’ve got even more mixed nuts in the creative department. 🙂 A whole lot of art school graduates and frustrated screenwriters. A couple of industrial designers. A jazz singer. A barnacle scraper. All that creativity would be quite wasted without the brilliant focus of the brand strategy team’s box.

  • Deborah Lotterman

    Deborah Lotterman is Chief Creative Officer at precisioneffect. Deborah oversees creative, medical services, and operations. Her creativity and strategic thinking has led the agency in translating technological innovations into powerful campaigns that speak emotionally to clinicians and consumers. 

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