The need for storytelling
Health care customers interact with brands throughout the day, and the story of the brand needs to exist and adapt to the needs of the customer. For marketing messages to be effective, they must be weaved into the customer's world, not as a discrete moment, but in many touchpoints throughout the journey of your customer. Stories give the structure to move from "advertising" to "advocacy."
Current limitations with customer communications
Many health-oriented brands develop discreet communication touchpoints in a one-size-fits-all approach to customers. These approaches are good, but limiting, and are in most cases focused on what the brand wants to communicate, not to make the customer's life better.
Longitudinal storylines based around improving the customer's experience with the therapeutic category (and the brands) are not tactics solely focused on benefits and messages for a single moment in time, but are designed for reuse and adaptation based on smaller customer segments. Metadata applied to storylines bring intelligence to content. Content could be categorized as words, images, video, sound, etc. assembled in a chapter-by-chapter format. The metadata defines the segment, purpose, and application of the content when applied to a smart surface. Examples outside of health care that do this well are Netflix and Amazon. Interactions with these brands feel almost human, yet more attentive to our needs.
Because we have lived in a non-digital world for so long we (marketing and agency teams) are developing communications that act like un-connected print communications. Smart surfaces are the customer touchpoints along the customer journey. Consider how a consumer of health care could go from a 60-second TV spot to a smartphone interaction, to an email perhaps on a tablet to a website, to a conversation list on there mobile device ready for that HCP conversation. Post the conversation, the content story would adapt to product use and adherence on those same devices.
How do we move forward
Healthcare marketers must shift their thinking and strategy toward defining the health care customer journey as it currently exists, with a strong focus on the quality of the customer's touchpoints. Marketing effectiveness can be improved through tagging content with metadata aligned to business objectives, and leveraging smart surface touchpoints throughout the customer's journey. It’s all about being a multi-surface storyteller.
Editor’s note: The author was a member of the 2014 Health Effie Awards Final Round Jury.