Hospital marketing: what’s your story, part II

I wrote a post last week titled Hospital Marketing — What’s Your Story? Premise was that a hospital’s story doesn’t really matter to most people. When it comes to hospital marketing, the only thing that matters is how a hospital’s story fits into someone’s life.

It’s timely that I just visited SETH’s BLOG — because I came upon this post Ode: How to tell a great story. Which in and of itself is a story worth reading. But if you don’t have time to visit, here are some of the highlights — along with our proposed takeaways — for hospital marketing teams:

Six Story Tips For Hospital Marketing Teams

1. Seth: Great stories succeed because they are able to capture the imagination of large or important audiences. Takeaway: to be able to connect with your audiences, as a first step to being able to capture their imagination, your organization’s facts and figures should play a supporting role to your larger story. Here’s a great example from Burt’s Bees. While now owned by Clorox, the company still dedicates their “About” page to enlightening customers on what the brand is about, what it stands for and how it does business the Burt’s Bees way.

2. Seth: A great story is consistent and authentic. Consumers are too good at sniffing out inconsistencies for a marketer to get away with a story that’s just slapped on. Takeaway: your organization and each and every one of your staff need to be able to deliver on your story. The alternative, at some point, will be some serious damage control. Moral of this story — be completely honest, all of the time.

3. Seth: Great stories are trusted. Trust is the scarcest resource we’ve got left. No one trusts anyone. As a result, no marketer succeeds in telling a story unless he has earned the credibility to tell that story. Takeaway: refer to #2 above. In addition, instead of telling you’re own story, let your customers tell your stories. Their credibility and their trust factor will be multiplied exponentially. These stories will also be much more sharable.

4. Seth: Great stories are subtle. Surprisingly, the fewer details a marketer spells out, the more powerful the story becomes. Talented marketers understand that allowing people to draw their own conclusions is far more effective than announcing the punch line. Takeaway: refer to #1 above. Note that there’s no mention in Burt’s Bees larger story about its number of employees, number of factories, new technologies being employed, or other functional details. Instead, the company uses its storytelling as a tool to help customers buy into what matters most to them — the company’s philosophy and principles.

5. Seth: Great stories are rarely aimed at everyone. Average people are good at ignoring you. If you need to water down your story to appeal to everyone, it will appeal to no one. The most effective stories match the world view of a tiny audience—and then that tiny audience spreads the story. Takeaway: better for your hospital to be coveted by some rather than inconsequential to many. Tell the stories that are small enough to win, and that your followers will want to make their own and become a part of. Recall the words of Margaret Meed — never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

6. Seth: Great stories don’t appeal to logic, but they often appeal to our senses. Takeaway: when we make people feel, we draw them closer, trigger more meaningful associations and promote instinctive system 1 brand decision-making. Studies also show that emotional stories are directly linked to stronger financial performance: higher sales, greater market share, larger profits.

7. Seth: Great stories agree with our world view. They agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place. Takeaway: it’s really hard to change people’s worldview and their behaviors. Because whether right or wrong, beliefs often trump facts. So better to help your target healthcare consumer live in concert with their beliefs.

What Is Your Hospital Marketing Brand Story?

You can start by asking questions like — who are you as an organization? where did you come from? why are you doing what you do? what inspires you? And most importantly, what inspires and guides your customers? As these answers take shape, so will your brand story. As a healthcare marketing agency focused on health + wellness since 1999, Trajectory can help you on your path to a better hospital marketing story. Reach out.


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.