Saturday, October 18, 2014

Is story telling the new healthcare marketing?

Interesting question isn’t it?  The marketing department going from the tried and true traditional hospital and health system advertisements and pithy messages, to stories that market the hospital or health system brand.

I do believe that as an industry, that we need to move more fully into developing compelling content to engage and frame the experience of the healthcare consumer or patient. And that means storytelling assumes greater importance.

After all, when one looks at hospital and health system advertising, it’s still the shiny new building, panoramic views from the roof top terrace or lounge, smiling doctors, award logos or trophy’s and  new equipment.  But does that really meet the needs of the healthcare consumer or patient?  Those kinds of activities do not lend themselves to online or social media very much, where people are 41 percent of the time in looking for information on the healthcare provider. And with TiVo, cable online and all the myriad choices for viewing nowadays, does anyone really see them, or just surf through?

If that is the case and healthcare organizations for whatever reason are unwilling to build points of differentiation for the brand based on outcomes and price transparency, then why not tell a story?

Stories can provide rich content. Stories can engage. Stories can frame the experience.  Stories can allow one to impart critical information that a healthcare consumer or patient can use to make a choice.

This isn’t the story of “us”, or the story of the hospital as in “one hundred years ago, a visionary physician”, well you get the idea.  It would seem that given the lack of differentiation in the market place between hospitals and health systems that effective story telling can be the difference.

In a society that begs for compelling and meaningful content who better that the hospital or health system to frame what they do, how they do it and the outcome that is achieved around stories?  It does not mean that the traditional product, a place, price and promotion aspect of marketing goes away.  It is just that those four P's are told in a story.

Storytelling has a beginning, a middle and an end.

For your consideration, I submit, what works better, a story of the development of a new outpatient center that is the future of healthcare, or a full page four-color advertisement of a new building that simply says this is the future of outpatient care? Really, a picture of a glass and steel building multistory building?  Actually, it looks pretty cold and sterile. And I have no idea what is inside, what the hospital does, how it’s done or what it will cost me.

Now tell me a story of experience. Engage me with the story of the levels of treatment and what is done. Thrill me with the levels of care. Give me the reasons why this healthcare brand matters at this location at this time in my life.  Tell me a compelling story of why. 

Its healthcare.

Hospitals and health systems do good.  There are a millions of stories that can be woven into compelling content optimized for social media and mobile that makes a difference.  Not all the cold dry explanations a healthcare consumer sees today. Use storytelling to create the reasons why one should choose the hospital, or doctor, or whatever one is trying to sell.

Individuals are now paying one-third of the total cost of care.  They are gaining sophistication regarding making healthcare choices with outcomes and price data.  What they don’t have is the frame of reference to understand what it all really means.

In an age where compelling content matters more than at any time in the past, it’s time to change the paradigm for healthcare marketing. Time for creative story telling based on the traditional four P's of marketing.

Once upon a time……

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