How do you get people to care about your healthcare advertising? It’s a question we ask ourselves on a daily basis. With so much out there invading the lives of your target audience, including an estimated 5,000+ ads and brand exposures per day, finding a way to cut through the clutter is a constant challenge.

And yet, we see evidence of consumer engagement with brands every day through actions like social media conversations and viral video sharing. What can your hospital do to encourage engagement with your brand? Start by building a compelling healthcare advertising campaign!

Experience has taught us that successful healthcare ads follow certain best practices, which we have outlined below:

Be Single-Minded

Hospitals are notorious for trying to cram as many messages as possible into one ad, like top-notch physicians and state-of-the-art technology and awards and designations and on and on. The hope that a laundry list of attributes will say a lot about your organization typically has the opposite effect. If your target audience doesn’t have a clue what’s most important to them or what they should take away from the ad, they’ll forget about it.

Think of it as trying to catch a ball. If I throw one ball at you, you’ll catch it. But if I throw ten balls at you at the same time, you’ll be lucky to catch even one.

Instead, each individual piece of the campaign must have a laser focus on one critical message (one “ball”), the message with which you want your target to walk away. Make it as easy as possible for your audience to remember you and pick you in times of choice.

Strike a balance between logic and emotion

The inclination in healthcare advertising is towards rational choice. Most hospitals rely heavily, if not exclusively, on the rational reasons a consumer should choose that hospital: its skilled physicians; its state-of-the-art technology; its awards, certifications, and designations; and so on.

But such rational approaches are only part of the decision process.

While a brand’s features—a soft drink’s sweetness, a car’s horsepower, a hamburger’s juiciness, a hospital’s technology—can be the rational basis for selection, non-rational reasons are also an important dimension of brand choice and differentiation. As a sage once said, “No sale is made entirely in the head.” Communication is most persuasive when it also resonates with the target audience on a visceral or emotional level.

Use a consistent voice

Consistency is key to successful advertising, especially in healthcare. Marketing campaigns typically comprise numerous ads across all media (TV, print, radio, outdoor, digital, social, etc.) and even across disparate targets (Boomers, GenXers, Millennials; Physicians, nurses, professional caregivers; C-suite and internal audiences, etc.). With all of that variation, it can be easy to get off track, often leading to highly targeted, but very fragmented, campaigns and messaging.

When building a marketing campaign, “brand voice” should be consistent across every ad, media, and target. Each of your single-minded ads must work together and have consist look, feel, and tone. They don’t have to say the exact same thing, but they need to be related, of the same essence, and convey a singular brand promise. That being said, creative executions can and should be tailored to the medium or the generational target to increase relevancy but should speak from one voice.

Conclusion

Whether you sell cars and beer or financial services and healthcare, these best practices are key to the success of your advertising. Based on our years of experience in consumer marketing for big brands like Anheuser-Busch, State Farm, Citi, and Walgreens, and 25+ years of expertise dedicated 100% to the healthcare industry, we’ve mastered the single-minded message, the balance between rational and emotional appeal, and the consistent voice.

To see more of our successful work, visit our portfolio page.

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Shannon Curran

Shannon Curran

SVP, Group Account Director at SPM Marketing & Communications
Shannon has a vast array of healthcare experience—from marketing, branding, and recruitment to medical equipment sales and strategic planning. She brings fresh perspectives and best practices from both sides of the industry to help her clients develop distinct strategies that drive growth and profit. As the leader of our account teams, Shannon takes a solutions-focused approach to problem solving, challenges conventional thinking, and brings energy into everything she encounters.
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