Commentary

Storytelling Remains Heart Of Effective Healthcare Marketing

The pace of innovation in the healthcare industry is revolutionizing how people engage with their health, from monitoring to diagnosis to taking medication.  Just recently, Apple launched the next generation of its Apple Watch with the first integrated over-the-counter ECG monitor, a test that monitors the electrical activity of your heartbeat.

Now, wearing your heart on your sleeve -- or wrist, in this case -- has taken on a whole new meaning, and technology like this makes it an exciting time to be a healthcare marketer.

We need to be mindful that in the rush to be cutting edge, we don’t lose sight of our purpose: effectively communicating and engaging with our consumers and creating resonance with the stories we’re telling, irrespective of the tools and channels we’re using.

Great marketing is grounded in authentic storytelling. When we combine this with technology, we have an opportunity to present truly innovative experiences. Done right, this will drive performance, which is ultimately what we as marketers are responsible for.

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Bringing Purposeful Storytelling to Life

We need to harness technology as a tool to enhance brand storytelling, to meet the needs of our consumers and often the people who influence and support them.

But how do you know where to start? Brand activation has to start with the consumer insight. By insight, I don’t mean data or a fact. I mean a human truth, overlaid with a tension or a motivation.  In many situations, a strong insight identifies the empathy and emotion that gives a brand relevance.  

In healthcare, there is an opportunity, through the use of relevant technology, to enable others to empathize with someone who has a condition – even though they themselves may not suffer from that ailment.

The “Migraine Experience” for Excedrin (an augmented reality migraine simulator) is a good example of building a campaign rooted in empathy. Migraine sufferers often feel misunderstood and that they let their family members or work colleagues down when they experience the crippling effects of the headaches.

Through the Migraine Experience, non-sufferers had the chance to safely experience the visual symptoms of a migraine: aura (visual disturbance), disorientation, sensitivity to light/sound — everything but the pain.  Ultimately, it wasn’t the technology itself that determined the success of the campaign, but the empathetic experience and storytelling.  

Performance is one of the key pillars in consumer healthcare strategy to create sustained industry leading growth.  The key to great performance marketing is to be continually inspired by your consumers and find new ways to engage with them. It is founded on improving brand experience though the discovery of new channels as opportunities for storytelling. It’s essential that you continue to explore. If you’re not experimenting with new technology that makes sense for your consumer and your brand, you’ll find yourself being left behind.

To create successful and innovative campaigns, you need to be curious and constantly challenging your thinking, but always remember to stay true to your consumer, your brand and your brand’s purpose.

The author served on the 2018 North American Health Effie Awards jury.

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