How to Find and Tell the Stories that Resonate
In healthcare marketing you’re pulled in many directions, tasked with meeting a myriad of goals. At the top of the list for many:
- Drive revenue
- Improve engagement
- Reduce expenses
Notice what’s sandwiched in the middle? Amidst business goals and the interests of a variety of stakeholders, “engagement” can feel like it gets lost. And yet the patient experience is key to your organization’s success – and to a successful healthcare marketing content strategy.
This isn’t the part where we advise you to get on social media and produce content that’s “shareable.” Yes, engagement is measured in CTRs and shares – but value-driving engagement requires real strategy.
We won’t get into all the facets of content strategy here, but the foundation for delivering on a content strategy is the story.
So what stories resonate, and how do you know (beyond your KPIs)? In the healthcare sphere, a good story builds on three key perceptions that answer the patient’s most basic questions:
- Value: Are you giving me the information I want and need?
- Credibility: Can I trust you?
- Affinity: Do I like you?
Here are some essentials for presenting stories that will answer those questions and meet your business goals – and that patients will actually want to read.
Engaging content begins with high standards for quality in both substance and style. Check your facts and be sure to present the most current, compliant information. Present content that aligns with your organization’s specializations, services, and messaging. And make sure your content has a distinct voice that is consistent with your brand.
Become a Headline Expert
The best content ever will be ignored if the headline is boring, click-baity, or written in corporate-speak. But a good headline is much more than that. It accurately represents the story that’s to follow – in a way that makes the reader want to read past the headline. SEO still figures into it, but readers and search engines are too sophisticated now to respond to a keyword-based formula. Rule of thumb: Imagine how you’d summarize the story for a friend in eight words or fewer, then write that.
Tell Your Brand Story
At first glance, telling your story runs counter to marketing’s golden rule: Lead with benefits. But healthcare is a little different. A patient’s first priority is to receive excellent care. That means they need to respect your experience and trust you. And to trust you, they need to know what you’re about. Telling your story – about your impact on patients, your achievements and credentials, and your values – goes far to build credibility and connection. But above all, find a way to not make it all about you. Successfully telling your story means telling a story that shows what you will do for your patient (or prospective patient).
Think Quality Over Quantity
Here’s the thing about content: It’s cheap. Consumers understand that the more constant the flood of content, the less care and expertise is likely to have gone into it. Patients expect care and expertise from their healthcare provider – before and in between their direct-care experiences. A quality-first approach to your content will command attention and be congruent with your brand story.
Being informative and credible is often the deciding factor in whether healthcare audiences stay with you. Which means that you want to provide useful information – while keeping your readers top of mind.
Be Relevant to Your Audience
Your chief cardiologist has just published a paper in a leading medical journal about her research on coronary artery bypass graft surgery. That work is definitely important, and it may have impacts on patient care – so if you tell that story, make sure you find the angle that answers the most important question you have to answer for patients: So what?
No matter what your content, it must include something patients can use, today, in their everyday lives. Solve common problems and answer patients’ frequently asked questions, and you’re on the right track.
Remember, “content” covers all the bases – text, graphics, photography, video, audio, emails, websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and live events. So make sure your strategy includes a variety of formats and channels. Consider the messages inherent to each medium. For example:
- Long-form blog posts ask readers to pause and absorb deeper concepts
- A colorful infographic can make noteworthy statistics more digestible
- A one-minute video can make a powerful emotional connection
Mix it up so you deliver your message from many angles.
Meet Patients Where They Are
It’s great if your website features a stunning blog with pages and pages of informative, useful articles. But if your audience is over on Instagram scanning for #healthyliving (nearly 23 million posts and counting), #fitnessgoals (6.25 million), or #livingwithdiabetes (13,230), then you’re pitching pennies into a well.
Time to build a social media community. The formula is deceptively simple: High-quality, inspiring images, video, and copy; links to your native content; consistency; and frequency. Stick to a schedule that people start looking forward to – and sharing – and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can grow engagement.
Educate Your Audience – And Keep It Interesting
Be on top of what’s new and valuable to your readers – and find ways to frame it within your brand message:
- A medical breakthrough
- A “how do they do that?” feature
- A glimpse at the personalities that make up your organization
- A Q&A on your Twitter or Facebook page on general health topics or news and information from your organization (as long as you stay within privacy and other regulations)
Whatever the story, you know you’ve hit a sweet spot when – instead of saying, “So what?” – the response is “Aha!” That lightbulb moment is often what gets readers to share.
Healthcare is one of those fortunate industries that is full of inspirational, uplifting stories. Fortunate because research tells us that consumers are most likely to engage and respond to brands that inspire them. In a landmark survey of 5,000 consumers, content marketing researchers in the UK learned that the most effective content – the brands with the largest “share of emotion” and the content most likely to convert – was inspiring, funny, beautiful, or useful (bonus points for brands that combined all four).
Once you’ve hit the “useful” bar, reach further with stories that uplift your audience. While privacy laws must be respected, anytime you can tell a story about hope, healing, and progress – it will resonate with your audience. If you can do so with humor, in a beautiful design, and offer related, useful information along with it – that’s a home run.
If you’d like to maximize your content marketing investment, contact us to discuss including it in your direct marketing campaigns or brand collateral management system.
About Katrina Denk
Possessing over 10 years of experience leading strategic and tactical marketing efforts of some of the area’s most respected businesses, Marketing Director Katrina Denk brings a wide breadth of knowledge to every initiative she oversees. Whether it’s a product launch or a multi-touch email campaign, she understands all the ins and outs of the marketing mix. In her free time, Katrina is an enthusiastic world traveler and animal lover.