Dr. Anthony Fauci, Marketing Consultant: Who Knew?!

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently answered questions about his work helping manage the COVID-19 crisis in an online forum. When asked about the message style physician-scientists should use when sharing their knowledge, he had a crisp two-part answer:

  1. “Be humble, unafraid of saying you don’t know the answer to a question. Don’t guess. Speak from the data.”
  2. “Know who your audience is to decide what your message is. Match the two. The goal in communication is to have people understand what you are talking about.”

It is hard to imagine any better advice from a marketing consultant about messaging for a product. How challenging it is to recognize what is important to communicate and how to frame the message so that people will get it. Or so it seems. When the flood of messages pours forth from cell phone, computer, TV, radio and various presses, confusion reigns.

Consider Dr. Fauci’s first point: “Speak from the data.”

When it comes to marketing a product, even a public health product, knowing what the truly valuable benefits of a product are and concentrating every bit of attention on those facts is the goal. Anything else detracts from the message about the core benefits of the product. In Dr. Fauci’s case, people want to live and be healthy, to not make their family and friends sick, and to stabilize the situation until science catches up with safe and affordable vaccines and treatments so the threat recedes. Dr. Fauci’s product is to convince people that simple behaviors greatly increase their chances of survival personally and as a society.

What is the benefit that people want when they think of shopping for your product? With so many competitors in every product category, the company that uses research to get beyond the product focus and uses data to be consumer focused won’t be guessing about what is important.

Consider Dr. Fauci’s second point: Match your message to your audience.

Dr. Fauci learned from years on the job that different audiences have different message ranges within which they get understanding. Outside those ranges, they hear the “whooshing sound of knowledge” blowing past their ears or the “blah, blah, blah” of irrelevant drivel. He frames his message entirely based on his target audience.

When speaking to the public, Dr. Fauci projects confidence in science and the need for disciplined personal behavior until the benefits of research and development deliver vaccines and treatments. Until then, the fate of the nation is in the public’s hands, for good or ill. He uses data to show where public behavior is achieving public health goals and where the public is sickening itself by not doing what it can to control the virus spread. When speaking to government, medical and scientific communities, the messages have an entirely different focus.

Who are the people who buy or should buy your product because they need its core benefits? Market segmentation is real. The 80-20 rule is generally real, too. Most products have their niche in the market. Use customer profiling to know what market segments your messages need to match and how to reach them. Focus on the communication needs of the few market segments that account for 80% of sales.

If you need help identifying and drilling into your market segments that account for 80% of sales, let’s talk.

Contributing Author:
Clinton Kennedy
Senior Database Marketing Analyst

Jenny Lassi • October 7, 2020

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