Jun 27, 2022

Marketing, Neuroscience, and Branding

By: Josh Dougherty

Branding Marketing

On the latest episode of A Brave New Podcast, I had the pleasure of chatting with Alison Tyrrell, a multiple award-winning marketer. 

Alison’s years of experience encompasses global communications and marketing for major companies across the globe. 

Beyond her marketing expertise, Alison also has a keen interest in psychology, behavioral economics, and anthropology—and how each plays into creating great marketing campaigns.

Currently, Alison is the head of marketing for a large healthcare organization focused on breaking down barriers to healthcare access for people around the world. From a marketing perspective, this means PR demand generation with sales and partnerships, product marketing, digital marketing, and more.

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“We move fast, as does the industry,” Alison told me. “Our focus right now is innovation, how we evolve the products that we currently have to support our customers’ changing needs because so much has changed since the pandemic.”

Despite Alison’s current focus on healthtech, she sees a lot of similarities to work she’s done in the past. “The foundation of what we do in marketing is the same,” she said. “It’s just that the messaging or maybe the formats are changing, but the fundamentals are the same.”

This doesn’t mean there are different challenges in healthcare marketing, though. Targeting, for example, is much more complex. 

“The needs of our customers become more bespoke, more complicated,” Alison told me. “If you just think of health systems alone, in different countries they are entirely different. So simply understanding them is a challenge.”

She continued: “The messaging also needs to be far more considered when dealing with issues like mental health, both from a sensitivity and ethical point of view.”

Zooming out from Alison’s current role, we also discussed her aforementioned interest in psychology and other areas. “I’ve always had a natural inclination toward them,” she said. “Gathering as many views as you can enables you to make more informed decisions. It also starts to exercise your own flexibility, to think about other potential solutions outside of the norm.”

When I mentioned to Alison that one of my current interests is neuroscience, she talked about how her own interest in it came about. “My interest originally grew about 10 years ago,” she said, “because I was learning about how it could be applied to commercials to understand how audiences were absorbing information. You can understand based on how somebody’s brain is lighting up what part of the commercial was impacting their attention.”

Looking ahead, I asked Alison what the future held for things like technology, marketing channels, and audience preferences.

“That’s a very hard one to answer,” she said, “because I don’t think anything stays the same. Even though marketing fundamentals tend to be relatively consistent through the decades, they still need to pivot with time and cultural changes.”

She continued: “One thing that will make marketing increasingly more difficult is how much content is going to be pumped out, and how things like the metaverse are going to come about creating a hell of a lot more distractions for us. Even with the next generation and how much they’ve been impacted at a young age, and with two to three years in a pandemic, there’s a lot more digital now in the way they socially interact.”

Back to the present, we turned to the current state of branding. 

“What I see is that brands need to have more meaning, a lot more than they used to,” Alison said. “Even from an investor level, your investors are really, really focused on ESG strategy, which is a good thing. But if you look at how brands have changed in the past 5 to 10 years, they’re all starting to look the same. Everything seems over-simplified.”

You can listen to my full conversation with Alison Tyrrell, which dives into everything from companies adopting a fail-fast approach to tracking blood oxygen levels in an audience, by subscribing to A Brave New Podcast via all the major platforms.

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