New work for Coloplast: WheelMate – empowering a community
Every now and then, a project comes along that provides both client and agency with a chance to work together to make a meaningful difference. At Advance, the most recent of these opportunities has reached fruition in the form of WheelMate – a digital platform commissioned by our client Coloplast to help wheelchair users find accessible toilets and parking spaces.
The idea of an app was originally proposed in response to a brief to create a campaign for a product launch, but we quickly saw the potential to create something that would provide genuine, long-term value to Coloplast’s customers. An initiative that would demonstrate their commitment to and engagement with the wheelchair community – something beyond a marketing tool.
Although we were aware that there were a number of toilet finder apps already on the market, and while a few did focus solely on disabled facilities, none of them hit upon the right balance of design, usability and the usefulness of the data. We focused on trying to solve these problems while keeping the feature set minimal and the flow as simple as possible – really important for an app that’s likely to be used out and about. Users can view, add, rate and comment on locations as well as add them to a list of favourites.
We also created a web app to support the smartphone version – providing a more comfortable way for users to view and add locations at home. We envisaged that many people would use both apps so constancy and familiarity across the platform was a priority.
Another thing that sets WheelMate apart is the decision to launch the app with a completely empty database. We did this for two reasons, the first being data quality. We wanted everyone using the app to know that all data had been created by their fellow WheelMate users – encouraging trust and loyalty to the project. Secondly, we envisaged that crowd-sourcing the collection of the data would build a stronger sense of community amongst users.
Insights from wheelchair users helped us scope the app.
In terms of marketing the service, we are developing a number of activities including films, brochures and banners as well as more community-based communication such as blogger outreach and events. Coloplast will also utilise their links with national and international wheelchair user organisations to seed the app and get people adding locations.
This type of project – the creation of products and services that serve equally the needs of the target audience and the profile of the client – perfectly demonstrates the change in thinking here at Advance. We understand that, since audiences now possess a myriad of ways of filtering out and ignoring not only mass media but also socially targeted broadcast messages, the need to provide genuine value becomes paramount.
But it can be tough. Because many organisations’ processes and budgets are designed to work around campaign cycles, persuading them to see the long-term benefits of this kind of project requires some work. This is why we are investing a lot of energy into finding these types of opportunities for clients and demonstrating the powerful results that can occur when their needs and the needs of their customers are aligned.