Digital Marketing in Regulated Industries
The Buzz About Regulated Industries
Let’s be clear about our root level understanding of a regulated industry. It’s a type of business that is controlled by government rules. Digital marketing, as it literally means, is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.
What does it mean for a particular industry to rank highly on the McLaughlin-Sherouse List? For starters, it means that companies in those industries probably must engage the services of a small army of regulatory lawyers to help them navigate these rules. More important, it provides a road map for researchers and policymakers. While the research cited above has shown, at a general level, that regulatory accumulation can harm economies and industries, the ranking prompts additional avenues of further research and investigation: Are there any specific outcomes in the industries that may justify their positions? Have the negative effects, such as lower labor productivity growth, been observable?
Overcome the Challenges
Given, the number of restrictions in these industries, naturally one tends to think about how to use the digital space to market commodities of these industries. The obvious “industry standard” answer is “you can’t and you don’t”. This is the differentiating factor between the anomalies and the companies for which 99.9% of the people work for (guess that was a bit too melodramatic!).
Okay, so there are a number of challenges to digital marketing in regulated industries
- Keeping up with the inconsistent guidelines and rules that govern how and what industries can market to particular audiences.
- Non Compliance is costly and can be a big dent on the balance sheet and image (take Theranos for example)
- Multitude of steps between ideas and execution. You have to work with people who have risk in their title. It’s their very job and their very nature to just kind of look at something and pinpoint all of the things that could go wrong, so that you can make sure that you have adequate controls in place.
Not Engaging is NOT AN OPTION
In a world of regulations, and limitations, the true hero is the one who can, despite all the restrictions, bend the rules of the game and utilize effective strategies to emerge victorious.
- Get executives to buy in: The people at the top are the ones who define the culture and approach of the organization and its’ employees. They have to believe in the power of digital marketing and how it can affect and transform their businesses. If your company is still in the social media dark ages, the first step toward success may not be creating a new Facebook page. It’s probably educating your executive team about the benefits of social media. There is no such thing as a grassroots cultural change; this shift must be led from the top.
- The legal department is not an excuse: Reinvent the marketing department and provide the resources necessary to stay compliant and obtain necessary legal approvals as soon as possible. Refrain from using the legal department as an excuse.
- Get close to the experts: Online marketers must know relevant rules and regulations inside and out. But a close relationship with the compliance officer is just as important. Often times, sales and marketing teams are out of sync with compliance. Remove any barriers between compliance and marketing by sharing knowledge and successful strategies on a regular basis. Collaborating can help your process so that approval is accomplished more quickly.
- Globalization doesn’t mean standardization!: Don’t confuse these 2 terms. Marketing strategy should be highly customized to the rules and regulations of the target region. A particular strategy might be extremely effective to one target audience, but may not even qualify the regulations for another.
- Know your market and how it has changed; research all related legislation, regulatory changes, and compliance management tools
- Give yourself enough time to build these changes into your marketing cycles
- Appeal to individuals with targeted, individualized messages
It’s an exciting new world — one that rewards creativity, innovation and research. Moving ahead of the market and paying attention to the nuances goes a long way off. When marketing in a highly regulated industry, you need to devise your own, up-to-date and relevant marketing strategy — and make sure it offers no surprises to your chief compliance officer.