Attracting new patients is essential for sustaining and growing a medical practice – yet patient engagement is often overlooked. Jason Borody from Vividus Marketing explains why storytelling is the future of content marketing in healthcare.
Healthcare and marketing share a vital requirement to look beyond numbers when creating an image of the people you seek to engage. Understanding the audience demographically, behaviourally, emotionally and contextually helps us better target their needs and attract them to our practices.
The uptake in storytelling in the healthcare industry is surprisingly slow for a profession where storytelling is an established part of communication with case studies and patient histories. The healthcare industry does a stellar job in emphasising high standards of care but there is great potential for using storytelling to emphasise a culture of compassion to act as a driver for engagement and growth.
Product marketers have developed excellent techniques for creating rich, emotionally motivated story-based campaigns. Stories are the perfect way to engage with your patients because of their structure. Stories follow a logical process of issue identification, route to solution and resolution otherwise known as beginning, middle and end.
Every story is a quest and each quest begins an issue, problem or conflict. Emotion is what drives the quest and great stories evoke great emotion. What is said and done is easily forgotten but the feelings felt are not. To create great emotional stories for our patients we need to understand their experience. Their issues have to
be identified and it stretches beyond asking what they are in surveys and polls. Connecting with patients, understanding their challenges and sharing their hopes and fears is how we find the emotion. That is where the true power of storytelling lies.
Relatability and Visuals
Within the beginning of each story is the introduction of the characters. How we relate to these characters determines how much we choose to engage with the story. People relate more to people than they do to ideas and great visuals plays a part in this.
Compelling photos and videos will enhance engagement more than
words alone. Make your stories about your real patients because they are far more relatable. With the right approach to data protection and with patient permission, the right presentation of actual patient stories will enhance your credibility as a healthcare provider.
Like successful healthcare experiences, stories need resolutions otherwise they are not satisfying. However, resolution in storytelling is also about letting the reader fill in the blanks. Your patients will feel more engaged and informed if they are presented with a story that guides them towards information and lets them comprehend the facts for themselves rather than being shown lists of data.
The key to presenting the resolution in this type of storytelling will be about perspective. Keep in mind that the patient will put themselves in the position of the patient in the story. Too much emphasis on the heroic doctor saving the meek patient will not create an ending that resonates with your audience.
The mark of a great story is how immersed in it we are and the measure of that is how much we are willing to share it. The best stories inspire us to share them with others, to introduce them to something we’ve enjoyed, laughed at, cried at or believe to be incredibly profound. We recommend books to friends, share news articles and videos on social media and reminisce about old adverts before frantically searching for it on YouTube to show that person in our group who inexplicably doesn’t know where a famous ad quote comes from.
The power of digital and social media channels is they are built on sharing content and what they all have in common is they are story based. Storytelling is incredibly important to marketers as they understand that a video or an image that tells a story will travel much further than a perfectly worded tweet or Facebook post, because visuals leave a more lasting impression.
Complex information and abstract concepts like medical procedures are easier to understand and process when they are presented in story form. Stories can help people think about things in a way they would never have considered or even just think about certain topics at all.
Sharing information about your practice this way is far more enticing and engaging to a patient than traditional methods. Your medical marketing consultant can show you how to leverage storytelling in healthcare and better engage with your patients.
The content in this article was published in The Private Practice Summer 2016/17 edition. Download the print version by clicking below.