Healthcare marketing strategy – the power of moments vs. messages

There are three sobering statistics that should be taped to the lamp in every person’s office who is setting healthcare marketing strategy for their organization. First, the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day. Second, consumers switch between screens up to 21 times an hour (according to a British study). Third, the average person’s attention span is now just eight seconds (according to this Microsoft study).

The Impact on Marketing For Healthcare Organizations

What’s the upshot of these statistics? It’s really tough to cut through. And given that the likelihood of a consumer purchasing a product or a service depends on the probability of them thinking about it (credit to How Brands Grow author Byron Sharp) — here’s a fourth message that healthcare marketers should tape alongside the three above:

Here are a couple more things to consider about the life of your time-starved, emotionally distracted, research-obsessed prospective customer. Disposable healthcare advertising campaign bursts don’t carry the same weight as a brand having a continuous and meaningful presence.

Which means that your brand needs to more regularly be in the line of sight of a customer to be chosen and more regularly in their subconscious, ready to be recalled at the moment of choice. The big impediment to growth (quoting Sharp) is usually that most buyers hardly ever notice or think of our brand, and that its physical presence is limited.

The Zig-Zagging Customer Journey

Your prospective customers are now dictating the rules of engagement. They dictate when and how they want to engage with brands, and their journey is anything but a linear path. Healthcare marketing strategy must take into account what micro-moments matter to customers so that your brand — out of the growing number of options — is considered, helpful and trusted.

Your ability to engage consumers with a consistent and compelling brand experience across multiple channels (brand micro-moments) is critical to meeting your targets. Regardless of your business objective — whether it’s to raise awareness, acquire or retain customers, change attitudes, revitalize a clinical service line or to drive web traffic — you need to be where your prospects are.

Small Moments, Big Impact

These small moments are the small but precious occurrences throughout the shopper journey during which consumers are ready to act. They start when a customer turns to their mobile phone or other smart device. The challenge in setting healthcare marketing strategy is to maximize the value of each and every one of them. For your brand to prove it can fulfill a specific customer’s need at a given micro-moment. In a way that brings to bear your brand’s assets.

Google narrows these moments down to four key categories:

1. want-to-know moments (the research and education phase of the customer journey)

2. want-to-go moments (when customers search for local places that offer specific products or services)

3. want-to-do moments (when a customer is ready to do something)

4. want-to-buy moments (when a customer is ready to buy)

How many micro-moments do your prospective consumers engage with throughout their journey to purchase? In many cases, it’s likely in the double digits.

Being There And Being Useful

Here are six tips to help healthcare marketing teams maximize their brand’s micro-moments. Thanks to Molly Ware, senior interactive marketing lead at Goodyear, whose content in this linked article helped inform this list.

1. Identify the moments that matter most to your organization. Based on your business strategy, determine which moments your brand has to win, and if these moments can be enhanced and more memorable. Second, making interactions that are less important, simpler and faster. And third, removing all the value “destroyers” — the negative moments, and the activities that do nothing for customers but are perhaps only there for the convenience or efficiency of your business.

2. Understand your target audience. They have power. They’re in control, and you might need them more than they need you. Learn about them. What they need, what they’re trying to achieve and what they really value. Helping them to share their experiences and  opinions. In a world where trust is low and loyalty is rare, this intimacy will go a long way. Then, overlay this learning with your organization’s strategic areas of focus.

3. Activate. Micro-moments also happen on the ground. What branded experiences can you create that immerse your brand into your customer’s world and enable them to achieve what they want? Clay Christensen (Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School) calls these “jobs to be done.” He states that what organizations really need to home in on is the progress that the customer is trying to make in a given circumstance—what they hope to accomplish.

4. Know their online language. What are the keywords and phrases that customers use when searching at each stage of their buyer’s journey to your organization. Sometimes little nuances make a big difference. The only way for you to keep up with the ever changing consumers’ needs is to constantly analyze what is trending among customers in line with your business landscape.

5. Site analytics and performance. Use site analytics to better understand usage. This can help you troubleshoot problems, such as where customers drop off when filling out online forms or how to better optimize the online experience. Also, find out what your current desktop and mobile site speeds are and then benchmark them—not only against others in the industry, but also against all online leaders.

6. Build upon your brand assets. Given all the things outside of your control, it’s important to control what you can. Brand assets are yours to build upon. To build brand value, you need to tap into the power of memory structure. Memory structures include colors, logos, shapes, tag lines, symbols, advertising styles through to playing a role in culture (think Ben and Jerry’s).

According to Byron Sharp (once again referencing his book How Brands Grow) — the more extensive and fresher the network of memory association about a brand, the greater the brand’s saliency. The more these memories can be triggered in everyday situations, the more likely the brand will be recalled. The more distinctive these brand assets, the greater the chance to stand out and be recalled. Coherence matters…a lot.


If you’re a healthcare marketer who wants to better leverage the power of your organization’s moments to engage prospective customers, build brand value and drive better business, reach out to our healthcare marketing agency for a conversation.


Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, launched in 1999, the specialist health & wellness branding and marketing agency using every moment to move customers, brands and businesses upward. Prior to Trajectory, Eric served as EVP and Management Board member at Interbrand (the world’s most influential brand consultancy). Before Interbrand, he held senior marketing positions at Beiersdorf Inc. and L’Oreal and advertising account management positions at Marschalk and Benton & Bowles.He has also taught as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall’s Graduate School of Communications and has lectured at Wharton Business School and Emory Goizueta School of Business.