Formed in 1985 in England, the alternative rock band Radiohead has always approached marketing, well…alternatively.
In 2007, they made news when they independently released their seventh album, In Rainbows, as a digital download and let customers pay whatever price they deemed worthy. Later, when they released it on CD and vinyl, it climbed the charts, snagged a Grammy and went on to critical and commercial success.
Last week, the band, acclaimed for being digital-forward-thinkers, released a newspaper to accompany their new album, The King of Limbs. Yes, you read correctly–a newspaper–the kind printed on real paper.
The newspaper, The Universal Sigh, is limited and can only be had at certain locations announced via their website. The newspaper give-away has gotten the band featured not only by entertainment media, but credible mainstream media like The Wall Street Journal. The San Francisco Examiner even has their own photo gallery of fans lining up to get the newspaper. Really? In 2011? People are lining up for a newspaper?
In an article by Aziz Ali, he writes, “Radiohead’s strategy is geared towards guaranteeing the excitement and interest of fans and memorabilia collectors.” In addition to fans lining up for newspapers, the album has been released in multiple formats – CD, vinyl and as a digital download.
As hospital marketing directors, Radiohead’s strategies speak to two key lessons in successfully fusing old and new media and online and offline communities:
- Know what your consumers, or in our case patients, want, and care enough to address the diversity in preferences among them. For example, offering on-line registration is key, especially for those tech-savvy new parents headed for the birthing center and the busy coordinator of medical services at the local care center who assists her patients – but that doesn’t mean you scale way back on your intake staff. You need to offer the same level of high quality experience no matter what the patient’s preferred format is.
- Don’t overlook the power of unexpected, low-tech tools to bolster credibility in an offline community and garner attention in the online community. For example, if your hospital is undergoing construction, consider distributing “sleep-easy” kits with lavender scented eye-masks, earplugs and a head-set with natural, calming sounds like the ocean. The patients will know you understand their needs.
The gesture sure beats an “Excuse our mess, we’re expanding for you” sign. The sign speaks to the institution’s need to inform their patients about the construction, the “sleep-easy” kit is a low-tech tool that speaks to the patient’s need to get rest, regardless of the construction noise. Make it known online that you are offering this level of care, and it is likely to get the attention of mommy bloggers and others who cover local healthcare news online.