Why Storytelling is Critical to Impactful Healthcare Marketing

By | Published March 3rd, 2022 | in Healthcare, Industries

Why Storytelling is Critical to Impactful Healthcare Marketing

Healthcare companies understand the necessity of marketing, spending formidable amounts of money in hopes that the right people hear their message. According to e-Marketer, US healthcare companies spent approximately 11 billion dollars on digital advertising in 2021 and when it comes to the overall marketing spend, that figure has been estimated to be approximately 30 million in recent years.

These advertisements come in all shapes and sizes, from the ones that show people in bathtubs on hillsides, to the ones that introduce us to consumers with a serious problem.

What differentiates the ads that perform well from the abundance of healthcare messages is a focus on the human story behind the facts. These ads tell stories that we can all relate to and therefore, remember. “The best bridge between a presenter and an audience,” someone once wrote, “is a story.”

Storytelling, and visual storytelling in particular, is foundational to effective advertising for the healthcare industry. A compelling story can create empathy, be a call to action, and facilitate measured growth in audience engagement – helping you stand out from the competition.

The Science Behind Storytelling

What is it about a story that grabs ahold of our attention with such force? There’s a plethora of research on this topic and the jist is – it’s in our wiring.

In the NPR article, How Stories Connect and Persuade Us, Uri Hasson (Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University), says that as you hear a story unfold, your brain waves actually start to synchronize with those of the storyteller. “Brain regions that do complex information processing seem to be engaged,” Hasson explains, “It’s as though, I’m trying to make your brain similar to mine in areas that really capture the meaning, the situation, the schema — the context of the world.”

In his article for the Harvard Business Review, researcher and author Paul J. Zak explains that when we listen to stories, our brains produce the chemical oxytocin – a chemical that gives us a sense that it is safe to approach someone, we can trust the situation and lower our guard. He goes on to write, “my experiments show that character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enable better recall of these points weeks later.”

How We Used Storytelling to Create A Powerful Call To Action for A Healthcare Client

Let’s take a look at an example of a healthcare ad that effectively utilizes storytelling techniques to raise awareness and motivate action.

Our client Vitalant has 127 blood donation centers across the US and is one of the oldest non-profit blood service providers in the country. When they approached us, they had a new brand and new vision for the organization, and engaged us in creative strategy and content creation for several video assets.

In this video we created for Vitalant, you meet cancer-survivor Quade (a young boy) and his family, who are forever grateful for the blood donations Quade received from Vitalant donors. In listening to his mother narrate his story, and seeing Quade’s story unfold, the audience can effortlessly emotionally connect to the heart of Vitalant’s mission.

We think this ad showcases the effectiveness of an emotional character-driven narrative to capture your attention and create a lasting impression.

While scientific articles may appear daunting to some, the takeaways for healthcare advertising are simple – when you package your messages into character-driven stories that tug on the audience’s emotions, you have much better odds of your messages being listened to and remembered. It’s simply how our human minds work.

The good news is, discovering and telling stories is our wheelhouse, and we are here to help you tell yours! Drop us a line to learn how we can help you tell your healthcare story.

Who Are We?

Ambient Skies is a full service entertainment production company focused on creative storytelling for commercials, documentaries, and narratives.

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About The Author:

John Schaus