Greater Than One talks evolution of media planning and strategy

Italia Marr, Greater Than One

Greater Than One talks evolution of media planning and strategy

“What has struck me the most is the pace of change. It is so much faster than when I started, says Italia Marr, director, media strategy at Greater Than One. “Thanks to advanced technology, marketers must keep up more than ever.  It feels like every day, every quarter, every year, there’s new technology that enables novel marketing solutions for our clients.” Marr talks about her latest role at GTO and shares her perspective on healthcare marketing strategy and working in the industry today.

Med Ad News: What are your responsibilities at Greater Than One, and how they have evolved from your previous role?

Italia Marr: Last year I moved into a completely new role for Greater Than One, which is exciting, as director of media strategy. This position is an evolution from associate media director. In media strategy I blend strategic thinking, leadership, cross-team collaboration, data analysis, and trend analysis to ensure that Greater Than One continues to craft campaigns that contribute to client success.

Being close to our client’s business and growth, I partner with internal teams to help craft goal-oriented, strategic media campaigns and then analyze the performance of those goals. Beyond performance and optimization, I identify new opportunities that can drive client business goals forward. 

Med Ad News: So now, where do you think the opportunities lie for healthcare marketers? What types of strategies will be employed, what types of media, any thoughts on that?

Marr: Using a buzzword, omnichannel is key and at the forefront of media strategy development now — and will continue to be. When we say omnichannel, it’s about the connectivity between media and making sure that the connection can pull our customers through a journey that reaches our ultimate conversion.

The focus used to be multichannel, which is a more siloed approach to media. Now, it’s about making sure you can connect those channels and provide a holistic journey for customers. That has proven to be more powerful and impactful. I think that is the biggest opportunity right now.

Expanding on it further, I think there’s a beautiful component of omnichannel that allows marketers to continue to feed the funnel. Some customers are actively searching already. They’re ready to make a change, place that order, and choose that product. Other customers aren’t there yet. Maybe they don’t even know they need a new product. Or maybe now wasn’t the time to make that change, or they couldn’t afford that new product.

Omnichannel allows us to continue to appropriately funnel to those customers who may not yet be ready. You can help them through connected storytelling across media channels, get them ready, prime them to that ultimate conversion, and still capture those active hand-raisers who are already familiar with the products.

Med Ad News: What do you like best about your job, and what do you find most interesting about it?

Marr: What I love is championing something new for clients  — big or small. Last year, for example, we had a client whose primary KPI was driving email signups to their CRM. The whole concept of lead generation — an advertising mechanism or tactic to drive leads, or email signups — was wholly new to this client. I had the opportunity to educate them on it and help activate innovative lead gen placements.

This gave the client a solid group of email recipients at their product launch to communicate the introduction of their product and pull those users through to product choice.

When we champion new strategies and see them pay off for clients, it typically blossoms into a bigger opportunity. We can really see strategic work pay off, not just from the results standpoint, but also from a partnership standpoint. We can tie our client’s growth into our own growth and grow with them.

Med Ad News: What do you find most challenging?

Marr: Greater Than One partners with clients over the full spectrum of health care, with a focus on rare disease. Some clients have bigger budgets, others smaller, some have never done non-personal promotion before, etc. So, the most challenging part is being able to flip the switch, meeting to meeting, from one client versed in channels to another not at all, from clients with smaller budgets to clients with millions of dollars to spend.  

Being able to keep each client’s nuances top of mind when addressing their needs or opportunities available to them is a challenge because there’s no consistent baseline. We must strive to adapt, react, and know our client’s business in depth because that helps us service them the best.

Med Ad News: What types of skills do you need to handle your responsibilities?

Marr: A big one is the ability to collaborate. I partner with every team in the agency on every client, and that’s how the best media strategies and media campaign results are achieved. Collaboration is a key skill.

Second, I would say, is relationship-building, with clients, colleagues, and media vendors who keep us in mind when they have new opportunities. But it always starts with the client relationship, because what we do is moot if we don’t understand our clients and their needs.

Finally, data analysis. Data is king and queen and that’s not going to change. Everything we do now must be data driven. We must have benchmarks that we’re mapping to show success. We must understand the data KPIs we’re trying to deliver. If they’re not achieving the benchmarks we set, we need to see that quickly, analyze it, and make a mid-course correction.

Med Ad News: Do you have any recommendations for someone starting out in media now?

Marr: Well, I started out more than eight years ago, and the one thing that’s stuck with me is that the basics never change, even as formats continue to evolve. Learn the basics well. The data tool might change the pace at which we can receive data, the name of the media company might change, but the basics in media will never change.

An example is media math: A CPM is a CPM; a CTR (click-through rate) is a CTR. You must know what these are and calculate them quickly. Flowchart development and maintenance will always be a part of the job. Whether you’re doing it through a technology platform or through Excel, the concept of the flowchart won’t change. Taking the time to learn all the fundamentals, and learn them well, sets you up for long-term success.

Med Ad News: How did COVID change the way you do business, and has it reverted to the way it was pre-COVID, or is there a hybrid model that’s evolved?

Marr: The biggest change for me was going from this high-energy, collaborative, in-office team environment to working remotely. I’m working with folks in all time zones. I don’t have the opportunity to walk by a colleague’s desk or catch them in the break room to ask a question.

Adapting to that different dynamic was the biggest change in the way that we do business. I would say as of now, it hasn’t reverted. Making sure that we find ways to connect and collaborate in the virtual world remains the way we do business.

I have noticed we are trying to arrange more in-person meetings, and clients and colleagues alike are more open to it. They’re not at the same cadence they once were, but there’s more alignment about meeting in person and an agreement that those in-person meetings are productive and foster connection, which is something that’s missing when we’re wholly virtual.