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Gut-Grabbing Messages: What Makes an Impression?

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media, August 24, 2011

"Just prior to running the ad in November 2009, a [local] child had died from complications the local media related to H1N1," Baiter says. "We believe playing on the emotional hot button of 'sick today, seen today' helped, and parents with sick kids related to this ad better in 2009 than in 2010."

The seriousness of the campaign played to the advantage and helped boost awareness of the brand. Burl Stamp, president and founder of Stamp & Chase, Inc. and former CEO of Phoenix Children's Hospital, agrees.

"Generally, the tone of a promotional message has to mirror the character and tone of the underlying brand and product/service. So when we're talking about healthcare services, appealing to emotions in a bit more reverent, serious way is often most appropriate – and can be most memorable because people can relate the message to their own lives and situations," Stamp says.

Stamp also shared a case of how St. Louis Children's Hospital changed a marketing strategy from a lighthearted approach to a more serious tone, based on patient feedback. While expanding pediatric home care services, Stamp thought it would be appropriate to go with a lighter, more playful approach for the brand image and messaging.

"One mom persuasively pointed out, 'I know it's home care services, but you're still talking about my child being sick. That's serious to me. We're talking about medical care, and that approach looks like we're going to a party or a carnival,'" Stamp recalled.

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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.