Five marketing lessons from the health sector


The founder and CEO of Bastion Brands, Simon Davies. Source: supplied.

The pandemic has brought many things into focus very quickly and one of the top priorities for the public is health.

In re-evaluating health as a priority, the public has adjusted to the health industry’s marketing tactics, forcing marketing and branding practitioners to change their approach to ensure campaigns stay effective.

While these changes are evident in the healthcare sector, they also mark a trend that we are likely to see in other industries as customers become a more sophisticated audience.

Here are five of the trends that will consolidate in 2021.

Education is effective

Education remains the most effective tactic in health marketing.

If your target audience learns while communicating, they are more likely to form a positive view of your brand.

The key here is to provide straightforward content that doesn’t put a heavy burden on the brand, but rather links it to helpful, informative content.

In pharmaceutical marketing we have some exceptionally intelligent people and the contact with doctors has been fantastic, including with patients.

The only area where educational content marketing has changed is in the delivery method.

Presentations and lectures have become less engaging compared to peer-to-peer learning and methods like gamification.

A big winner is episodic videos. Just as people were watching more TV series during the lockdown, we took a Netflix approach and produced a series of eight episodes, each about a minute or two long.

This generated significant engagement and continued interest while a 10 minute video would not have grabbed people’s attention in the same way.

Tell your own story

Prior to 2020, healthcare marketers often used data to create a representation of product effectiveness and patient journeys.

However, due to COVID-19, such data was missing.

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Instead of using third-party data, brands have started collecting their own data for deep insight and storytelling.

While effective storytelling has always been an important marketing tool, it is now a key differentiator.

Doing your own research in each business area is the best way to frame the narrative and offer unique perspectives.

Make your marketing multi-channel

Thanks to distancing efforts, there was a decline in personal marketing, including events, in 2020, making digital channels a must.

There are no real secrets here: identify your audience and channel plan, then track your client’s journey to get them involved.

The difference after COVID-19 is that people have found multiple ways to access information, from trusted news sources to opinions, social platforms, videos, podcasts, and more.

In 2021, brands that integrate their channels and communicate effectively with their audiences at every touch point will be successful.

Consider investing in influencer marketing. Not so much paid Instagram-style content, but key opinion leaders on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to increase the reach of your message.

Deliver your message in context

Multi-channel sales and marketing campaigns require more contextual effort to make sure your message gets through.

For example, we’ve found that some physicians become more concerned with materials when they can dial in at a time convenient for them, when they’re ready to take in information, rather than unannounced staff showing up on a specific day.

People take in information differently on different channels. Regardless of whether you are marketing virtually or in person, you need to build a relationship with the audience, whichever is appropriate for the channel. For example, whether it’s a one-to-few or one-to-many, a general campaign or a more personalized one.

Remember the emotions

Differentiating your brand is all about finding the sweet spot between being informative and stimulating an emotional response.

In healthcare, we rely on science and data to support the emotional triggers.

We ask, ‘What are your fears? What are their frustrations? What are your wishes? ‘

Use your understanding of these emotions to influence them and create effective communication.

At the start of COVID-19, there was an oversaturation in marketing responses to the pandemic and therefore a lack of breakthrough.

Effective engagement is no longer achieved with a large budget or relentless campaigns. Not only are budgets tighter, the world has changed, and our marketing tactics need to change.

When you are smarter about who you hire and where to reach them, you can gain their trust, increase brand awareness, and ensure results.