Blog Post

3 Ways to Practice Good Storytelling in Healthcare Advertising

07/07/2022 - Sierra Ducey

The biggest mistake healthcare advertising campaigns make is being too clinical. While the subject matter may require a certain formality, a cautious tone, and unglamorous language, that doesn’t mean that storytelling in healthcare has to feel like a doctor’s waiting room. In fact, the success of healthcare advertising may rest on our ability to transcend the clinic to share a compelling narrative.

What Mistakes Do Healthcare Advertisers Make?

Advertisers often experience tunnel vision when handling healthcare topics. They sometimes focus on the wrong things, getting stuck in the weeds of the product and its features, rather than trying to build relationships with potential patients. While it may be tempting to highlight new achievements, technology, products, or services at your organization, your storytelling needs to center on the person with the problem.

Because advertisers get stuck in the weeds, they risk overexplaining and becoming too long-winded in their messaging. Today’s consumers are bombarded with ads, and their attention spans are fleeting — with healthcare as with any topic, an ad has only a few seconds to make an impression. For this reason, advertisers also need to be careful that they’re getting their messages to the right audience segments.

What Makes Storytelling Effective in a Healthcare Setting?

Humans have always relied on storytelling to pass down information. It’s rooted deeply in our nature to want to listen to a good story — so much so that we still retain 70% more information when it comes to us via storytelling rather than statistics alone.

This fact is incredibly important for healthcare advertising campaigns. In the world of healthcare marketing, many organizations rely on facts or statistics to win the trust of patients. But what many marketers miss is that an emotional connection may mean the difference between someone becoming a loyal patient and turning elsewhere for treatment.

That doesn’t mean that a healthcare story needs to avoid necessary facts and information that showcase the benefits and prestige of your organization. But even the stuffiest data can be presented in a way that raises awareness, shows empathy for a problem, and inspires action in the end.

The key ingredients of a good story in a healthcare ad? You’re looking to show authenticity and consistency. Patients seek genuine information and care; they won’t stand for anything less. And a personal, human angle is best. Patients do not appreciate being treated as points on a graph.

A good healthcare story will always answer the question: What makes you unique? Consumers no longer have to rely on the organizations in their area. They have the power to do their research and shop around. This makes it even more essential to ensure that your organization stands out from the competition.

3 Ways for Healthcare Advertisers to Implement These Practices

Healthcare and pharma digital advertising can run the gamut from boring to alarming, but the sweet spot is to tell a relatable, authentic story — one that makes a potential patient sit up and listen, and then breathe a sigh of relief. Here’s how it works in practice:

1. Ideate before you narrate.

Effective storytelling in healthcare starts with determining what you need from your story. What could you highlight that will be of interest to your consumers? Is there a particular challenge or situation that your audience is struggling with? Could you turn this problem into a scene, testimonial, or narrative? Make sure that at this stage you consider what will resonate with your particular audience. Don’t talk about pregnancy woes to elderly men.

2. Choose the perfect format for your story.

Your audience will spend more time with certain advertising channels, and certain stories will better suit different formats. For example, an in-depth client story may be best suited for a video ad, but a portion of that story via a quote could work well in a display ad. How can you use different formats to best convey your message? How will you retarget consumers across different channels to continue to move them down the funnel?

3. Reaffirm your message.

Before you get ready to launch an ad campaign, it’s important to check your stories against your central ideals and values: Does the content, tone, and language speak to the essence of your organization? Is this how you want patients to see you? Authenticity and honesty may be two of the most important aspect of storytelling in healthcare and pharma marketing, so it’s never a bad idea to check, double-check, and maybe even ask for a second opinion before going live.

How Can Digilant Help?

The key to good storytelling is knowing who your audience is and where they’re at in their customer journey. At Digilant, our approach starts with consumer research to define target audiences, which allows us to develop an integrated marketing strategy and sets the stage for measurable performance.

Are you interested in learning more about bolstering your healthcare advertising with storytelling? Get in touch today!

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