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Gut-Grabbing Messages: What Makes an Impression?

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media, August 24, 2011

Baiter agrees that emotion plays a huge role in patient decision-making and should be the focus of healthcare marketing campaigns. HealthCare Express, a group practice specializing in urgent care and occupational medicine, is lesser known in the community compared to hospitals and primary care physicians.

To gain more patient volume, HealthCare Express aims its marketing messages at the emotions of mothers (or children) in the community. Most messages remain positive and uplifting with jingles the children can remember and a mascot in Youtube videos.

But HealthCare Express chose a more serious marketing message during the peak of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009 when it ran a campaign playing off the drama of the outbreak in the media. The ad featured a little boy scrunching up his face, looking angry, with the tag line: No child should wait for an appointment to be seen.

The response to the ad was overwhelming, Baiter says. Each patient who checks in at HealthCare Express is asked how he or she heard of the clinic. Here are the statistics of the typical response rate from newspaper and magazine advertising:

November 2009 – 13% of patients
December 2009 – 18% of patients

The following fall when the campaign ran for a second time, the patient response rate plateaued at around 6 %.

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2 comments on "Gut-Grabbing Messages: What Makes an Impression?"


Andrew B. (8/30/2011 at 12:58 PM)
Healthcare creative executions need two things: Emotional resonance and technical excellence. I've used that simple premise for more than 20 years. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the follow-through on the promise. Creating a positive and compelling message is important, but if the patient experience is mediocre or lacking, all that marketing work goes right down the drain.

Donna Arbogast (8/25/2011 at 9:42 AM)
This supports a particular experience with women and heart disease messages. We had huge responses to campaigns that empowered women to take control, but we did try the "fear factor" once [INVALID] and we pulled that particular spot very quickly. Almost no response. In light of previous results, we were afraid that we were actually having a detrimental effect on the brand.