5 Jun 2017 RB Marketing Series

How Healthcare Organizations Can Tell Better Stories for Long-Term Success

Christoph Trappe
Christoph Trappe
Senior Director of Content Marketing at MedTouch

The healthcare industry faces unique marketing challenges that can have a big impact on how we reach our patients and communities. To echo the words of Amanda Todorovich, director of content marketing at the Cleveland Clinic, healthcare marketing isn’t about creating more demand for a service – it’s about staying top-of-mind for when people need healthcare providers – likely later.

But how do we make that message stick with our audiences in the rapid-fire digital media world? In order to create memorable healthcare marketing, tell better and more unique stories.

In order to create memorable healthcare marketing, tell better and more unique stories. 


Telling better, more memorable stories means sharing content that is uniquely original, interesting, authentic and engaging, which can be about as hard as it sounds. But when implemented properly, a solid storytelling strategy will improve patient acquisition and retention, raise awareness of your brand, and enhance your reputation and thought leadership over time. It can even help with population health initiatives. In short, telling better stories can help you achieve long-term success.

The power of storytelling in healthcare marketing

Storytelling helps you connect with your audience in meaningful ways. People form emotional associations about brands through personal feelings about and experiences with the brand, rather than brand facts and features.

If you want your readers to develop a positive emotional connection to your brand and your organization, you have to keep them engaged and interested with relevant information. That’s where good storytelling comes in.

By telling better healthcare stories, we can combine emotion and relevant information to connect with our audience in a way that is helpful, interesting and appealing to them.

These connections not only engage our readers, but also encourage them to share your stories. This increases your reach and, over time, the volume of people who will look to your organization as a trusted name in healthcare.

How to start telling better healthcare stories

Everyone can tell great stories when they have the right support. Your organization can empower its storytellers by investing in their talents, finding stories worth telling, and removing barriers along the way.

1. Investing in storytelling talent
The first step to telling better healthcare stories is to empower your storytellers. To do that, you need to invest time and resources into the storytelling process.

You already have people in your organization with interesting, unique and authentic healthcare stories to share. But don’t assume that these people can add storytelling tasks to a full workload. Great storytelling takes time, so make time.

Part of a storytelling investment is an honest assessment of your team’s skills to identify where you may need more help. In addition to quality writing, good storytelling on the web often includes multimedia content. Whether it’s photos, videos, podcasts, infographics or other engaging content, make sure your team members have the resources they need to tell great stories across the multimedia spectrum.

You might consider hiring a content agency for help. Read my 10 tips on how to choose a content agency.

2. Finding stories worth telling
The key factor here is relevance. Readers won’t engage with our stories unless they understand how and why the stories matter to them, or at the very least why they should be interested in reading them. They typically don’t want to hear about the kind of news that healthcare organizations put out in press releases.

On the other hand, our storytelling has to do more than just entertain and inform – it’s an organizational investment that needs to show results. Relevance is the overlap between what we want to say and what our audience wants to hear.

Relevant stories can encompass a wide range of topics, including:

  • Informative material presented in interesting ways
  • Real engagements with patients and staff members
  • Strong and useful stances on potentially controversial topics
  • Unique takes on timely issues
  • Person-centric (not organization-centric) topics no one else is addressing in the same way

3. Removing barriers to storytelling
In my work helping healthcare organization share their stories, a number of barriers keep coming up. Probably the most common question is about patient privacy under HIPPA. Of course patient privacy is vital, and we absolutely need to have permission before we talk about their stories. But patients often want to share their stories with the community, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Another barrier to storytelling is “Approval Hell.” That’s when a piece of content has to get the green light from so many people that it never sees the light of day. Cut down the approval process to as few people as possible.In content marketing, an overnight success takes much longer than overnight. The point of creating compelling digital stories isn’t really to go viral (though it’s certainly a great bonus when it happens). The point is long-term relevance and reaching our marketing, communications and overall business goals. Creating and distributing better healthcare stories can help us achieve those goals long-term.

Is storytelling integrated into your content strategy? Share how you use storytelling to elevate your marketing in the comments below.

Christoph Trappe MedTouch Bio

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