Challenge Accepted! Finding Creative Marketing Solutions in the World of COVID

Challenge Accepted! Finding Creative Marketing Solutions in the World of COVID
Paige Lampert
Agency Work

Hold one moment please: Our team and client are currently performing an obnoxious happy dance around our respective home offices.

OK, we’re back. Thanks for waiting.

Why are we celebrating? We just completed a 90-second video, in two languages, for a brand new client we’ve never met in person, on a sensitive subject, during a pandemic with full lockdown.

So, yeah, we’re feeling the need to dance like no one is watching. (Because, let’s be honest, no one is watching.)

Here’s the background: Our client, Nevada Health Centers (NVHC), has expanded their behavioral health services throughout their southern Nevada service area. They need to spread the word and build on their patient base with an informational video to play in their clinic lobbies and exam rooms.

Challenge 1 — Talking about things people don’t like to talk about (but totally should talk about)

Marketing behavioral health is fraught with potential land mines. How does the target audience refer to these issues? How do you overcome their potential feelings that these issues may be taboo to talk about? Which words and terms resonate, and which close the door on action? With a new client (we had never worked with this department or their department leadership before), we also had to learn the language they wanted to use to talk about behavioral health and addiction.

Fortunately, Estipona Group has worked in the behavioral health space before. And while the clients and their niches are unique, we were attuned to the sensitivities. We knew which questions to ask up front, but we also made it clear we were ready to learn. Confession: Despite our best intentions, our first script did not hit it out of the park. But we learned where we missed the mark, took another swing and eventually nailed the messaging. Per the client, “You got the language and the intention. It's well represented. It's conveyed very well.”

Challenge 2 — Remote relationship building

Not only had we not worked with this client before, but they had not worked with an external marketing firm before. Our initial intent was to spend time with them in person in southern Nevada to work through the project. With branding projects, it’s essential to have a shared vision with our client — so it’s beneficial to sit in a room, exchange ideas and work out strategy. Particularly with clients who have not worked with agencies before, these discovery meetings really lay the groundwork for the relationship and the workflow. But just when we were ready to meet up —we actually had tickets in hand — everything shut down (*creative director shakes fists in air*).

So, plan B.

Not to brag, but as veterans of virtual work (11 years and counting), we are adept at building relationships and collaborating with clients, partners and team members digitally. (OK fine, that was a hair braggy, but it’s also real talk!) We just prefer to mix it up with some lively, in-person chemistry, particularly when building a new relationship. Knowing that wasn’t an option for the foreseeable future, we established a regular meeting schedule designed to help us get to know our client. We learned that weekly, early morning, one-on-one phone calls proved the most effective way to connect and collaborate. 

Challenge 3 — Targeting without stereotypingPoster art

NVHC is a community health center dedicated to serving the uninsured, underinsured and geographically isolated residents of Nevada. Services are provided on a sliding scale in Las Vegas and rural communities throughout the state of Nevada, but they also take insurance and want to be considered an option for patients of means. It was important that the video represent the diversity of clientele — both socioeconomically and ethnically.

Casting this video posed several additional challenges: As a non-profit with a limited budget, NVHC could not afford to go through a large casting agency that would have the requisite diverse talent. And given the potential for routine staff and provider turnover, we were reticent to use team members who might not be with the clinic long-term.

Our solution for the diversity and staff turnover challenge, as well as the challenges of delivering a sensitive message, was to animate the video with somewhat abstract characters. And while we made this decision for creative reasons pre-COVID pandemic, we’ll call it a brilliantly prophetic move that enabled us to finish the video during quarantine. We worked with our team animator to develop characters and visuals with enough detail to support narration but enough abstraction to feel inclusive. The illustrated, flattened art style used elements of the art we’d developed for some collateral pieces.

Challenge 4 — Producing videos 100% virtually

Recording voiceover virtually is nothing new, and with so many voice talents now set up with home studios, we were able to cast and record both Spanish and English voiceovers seamlessly. Our animator has been working remotely from the East Coast for several years now, so we have our process with him dialed. We created a sample scene to share with the client to get buy-in before animating the entire script.

The Result — The beginning of a beautiful (marketing) friendship

Our client loved the animation style, chose a voice talent, and we did our editing magic to bring the story to life — in English and Spanish. And while the project took longer than we anticipated due in large part to the current state of the world (thank you, global pandemic!), we ended up with a product we are proud of that exactly met client needs.

But don’t take our word for it. Behold, feedback from our client:

“You guys listened, and you did it,” she noted. This was followed by, "I wish we could have you guys forever.”

Awww. We’d be good with that! And PS, we love being loved by our clients.

If you find yourself in need of marketing help for a difficult subject during quarantine that can be developed 100% remotely — or, you know, for any marketing needs — drop us a line!

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