It’s simple but not easy to be a successful brand in social spaces.
Being brilliant at what you do, or having an awesome product, is the cornerstone of pretty much every social success story. People talk about and talk to organisations that have got their shit together.
Obvious. Simple. Not easy.
The Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh has got its shit together.
It is a world class operation and I am very lucky that it is on my doorstep.
I know that from personal experience. My daughter had a minor operation there and the quality of physical and emotional care that she (and we) received was outstanding.
I also know it from the personal experiences of many other parents, all of whom (like me) will wax lyrical about the hospital without hesitation.
In fact, whether or not you’ve direct dealings with the hospital, I doubt that there are many parents in the region who are not aware of how good it is, such is the sustained level of positive word of mouth that it generates.
Moreover I think it goes beyond a general awareness that the hospital is good at what it does. That awareness is underpinned by a deeper understanding of what it is that makes the hospital special.
Namely its holistic approach to care. Its recognition that an empathetic, reassuring emotional environment is as important to the wellbeing of a child as the quality of the physical medical care. Its attention to detail in terms of supporting not just the infant patients but their concerned families.
And I think that most people appreciate that such a level of holistic care can not be sustained by the 2011 National Health Service.
They know that NHS funding has to be topped up with charitable donations.
More importantly they know, from first hand experience and/or word of mouth, that said charitable donations have a direct positive impact on the quality of care provision. There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that a donation to The Sick Kids Friends Foundation is money well spent.
Which makes people more predisposed to dip into their pockets on its behalf.
We found this when raising money for the Sick Kids as one of four charities supported by The Ambeciles during last year’s Mongol Rally.
I was worried about fundraising on two counts.
Firstly that I’m not naturally pushy and that shyness is not a characteristic you associate with great fundraisers.
And secondly that we’d be victims of charity fatigue.
However, there was a palpable sense of warmth locally whenever the Sick Kids was mentioned. Indeed, the lovely people behind the EdCMBE (Edinburgh social media Coffee Morning Beer Evening) invited The Sick Kids, via The Ambeciles, to be the beneficiary of their charitable raffle, which raised over £600.
More recently we’ve witnessed the fundraising phenomenon that is Jack Henderson.
Jack has been drawing pictures to raise money for The Sick Kids. And mightily successfully. His exploits have captured the imagination of press and public alike and he (at the time of writing) has just reached his £10,000 target. Amazing!
(He was helped on his way by a whip round at Blonde in return for this drawing of a robot…)
Jack Draws Anything is an inspired gesture of gratitude for the care received by Jack and his brothers at the hospital. Gratitude for them being very good at what they do.
Being good at what you do is a sure fire way to move people to talk about you.
For The Sick Kids it goes beyond that. Being the best they can be moves people not just to words but to actions, whether that’s proactively raising money on their behalf or making a donation.
Being the best you can be is the best thing you can do.
And, given that word of mouth can work equally hard either for you or against you, being the best you can be will increasingly be the only valid long term marketing strategy.