5 REASONS WHY YOU NEED TO TELL YOUR BRAND STORY
Your hospital has stories worth telling and people willing to listen. Combined, these stories define your healthcare brand and what it stands for. Some system brands get lucky, and their stories spread like wildfire thanks to insanely loyal fans inspired by your service or promise. (They are the exception.) Other brands slowly lose control over time due to neglect, mismanagement or even rapid, overwhelming growth. Still more never had control of their story to begin with.
Smart organizations — the enduring, instantly recognizable brands — know how to maintain control of their story and protect their brand identity. They recognize a simple truth: in business, as in politics, if you’re not in control of the message, you’ve lost control of your brand… and you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to gain trust and reward your existing base.
Consumers don’t buy into brands, they buy into stories that resonate with their lived experience.
There are a lot of motivating factors that go into healthcare decisions, some practical and some emotional. For example, when your child wakes up with a high fever and a cough, you have a practical need to figure out what’s wrong — you need to bring him to the doctor. You also have an emotional need — which doctor or clinic are you going to trust.
Ultimately, your heart is going to make this decision, and you’re going to rely on the stories (reputation) you’ve heard about the various doctors and clinics that serve your community. You’re going to entrust your family’s care to the people who talk like you, think like you and share your same values. You’re going to trust the brand whose story feels like it could be your own.
Robots share hashtags — people share stories.
The best form of marketing continues to be word-of-mouth. Why? Because you’re hearing endorsements (or, in some cases, warnings) from people you trust. Even if they’re strangers, you inherently trust the opinions and reviews of real people over marketing taglines. And it’s human nature to repeat those stories when your circle of friends and family come to you for advice. Are you going to recommend the healthcare brand with the trending hashtag? No, you’re going to share a story.
Done right, branded storytelling helps your organization unobtrusively get in on this natural conversation people are having about your services, and it pulls your audience into the overall brand experience. The goal is to blur the line between your story and your services, so when people share one, they effortlessly — almost unconsciously — share the other, as well.
Promotions end. Stories live on.
The term “evergreen” has long been a buzzword for content marketers. The cornerstone, high-ranking blog posts, infographics, how-to videos, etc. that maintain relevance for weeks, months and even years after first being published are considered “evergreen” because they endure and continue to provide value to consumers.
While branded storytelling is different than traditional content marketing, both succeed when the message being shared connects with the values and motivations of the target audience. Discounts, sales and promotions might connect momentarily for basic economic need and retail types of business, but obviously not appropriate for healthcare. According to Marketing Insider Group, an effective brand story “motivates the reader or viewer to step into that experience… by crafting content in such a way that your audience feels as though they’d risk losing access to this somehow sublime experience.” When your customers become part of the experience, your brand story lives on.
Stories lift the veil of distrust.
Branded storytelling bridges the divide between marketing speak and consumer intuition (i.e. natural distrust). Your audience might recognize a piece of branded content as marketing, but the storytelling device puts the patient in control with a dynamic experience that compels them into a relationship with the brand that they control and, therefore, trust.
Sharing your brand’s story makes your organization vulnerable… in a good way. Your story puts on display your brand’s values, which is another way of saying it exposes you for who you really are. Doing so disables consumers of their natural inclination to distrust the guy trying to sell them something.
Stories protect your brand.
“Branded storytelling is not a new notion,” writes Peter Minnium for Marketing Land. “Despite the rampant jargonization of storytelling, it has always been civilization’s most powerful tool to transmit information and win hearts and minds.”
Indeed, since man learned to paint pictures in caves, we’ve been telling stories, and feeling each other out through those stories (and, perhaps more importantly, how well we tell them). The relationship between your brand and your patients starts with this natural feeling-out process. Effective brand storytelling — the right story with the right delivery — protects your image and preserves your values in order to win the hearts and minds of people you can help in the midst of stiff competition or negative opinions.
BONUS: Storytelling is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools available to your healthcare organization.
The marketing challenge facing brands who want to tell their story surrounds that holiest of holy grails: ROI. After all, if you’re going to invest in this effort, you need to be strategic about it. You need to set goals. You need to know how to measure success. (You might even have to start all the way back at defining what success means to your organization.)
Having the right team in place to develop the strategy, define the KPIs and support the effort is essential. Thanks to their evergreen nature and the level of consumer loyalty they earn, branded stories drive a very measurable, compounding return on your investment.
A good brand story also endures. Done well, a single story can win new customers for years to come and cement your place in the hearts of your existing clientele. According to Michael Brenner of Marketing Insider Group, storytelling “is what makes your brand significant. It’s the inspiring copy, the well-thought-out Instagram posts and website design, and the compelling video that turns mashed peanuts into Peter Pan Peanut Butter. The right brand narrative has the power to increase the value of your business’s product or service by over 20 times.”
Storytelling matters. If you’re not in control of your brand’s story, someone else is. It’s being told out in the wild, unchecked, unmanaged and certainly not optimized. Take control, tell your own story and be proud to share your brand’s values with the world.