Healthcare Marketing: For Stickiness – Motivate Your Audience

Understanding what motivates your audience helps make your message resonate.

Understanding your audience is a key ingredient for successful messaging. Healthcare marketers must know and understand their audience to effectively comsticky marketingmunicate with them.  We are often too quick to talk about features and about our hospital than to talk about benefits and what it means to the consumer.  We must always stop and ask from a consumer’s perspective, so what?

There are many methods to use for getting to know you audience.  Market research, patient interviews, primary and secondary consumer research and, of course, listening. We have all used these and many other methods with varying degrees of success.

The desire for all healthcare marketers is stickiness.  For our message to stick.  To resonate with our target audience.  To achieve this, it’s not only important to understand our audience it’s also important to understand what motivates them.  Some of the most successful advertising campaigns are the result of not just knowing the audience but having a deep understanding of what motivates their audience. Nate Fleming, writing for the Agency Post ( summed up successful advertising this way, “the most powerful messages tap into the audience’s desired emotional state and transport them from where they stand to another place and time. A message that connects deeply has a kind of transformative power that only comes from knowing what makes the audience tick. And it’s not just made of words. There’s magic in it”.

He continued, “In this fast-moving digital age, it’s easy to get distracted by technology and forget that human beings with beating hearts are the fuel that keeps our economic engine running. These strategies focus on activating the human reward response by focusing on a specific desired emotional state or end goal. A good message is a promise. And if yours promises to help people achieve one or more of their end goals, you’ll have messages that are both memorable and motivational”.

Fleming went on to list five key motivating factors for consumers.  They are very helpful as we try to create messages that resonate with our audiences?

1.  Power and Control

An absence of power or a feeling of loss of power activates the threat response. By offering to bring stability, empowerment and order to people’s lives, you can activate the reward response and appeal to your audience on a deep, emotional level. In healthcare, quite often consumers have a strong emotional sense of losing control.  They feel their health and possibly their healing and recovery are totally outside their control.  Hospital can respond to this by offering help and the expectation of good outcomes. The “Truth” campaign does just that by empowering young people to rebel against the big tobacco companies that were trying to manipulate them.

2.  Pleasure and Enjoyment

Promising luxurious, sensual experiences appeals to the reward system in ways that don’t need much explanation. Promise consumers’ senses a good time, and you’ll tap into a motivational nerve that is millions of years old. In addition to the expectation of good outcomes that lead to an enjoyable life, hospitals have been successful tapping into this emotion by offering amenities that go beyond basic medicine and treatment.  BMW focuses on this motivator with the promise of the “ultimate driving machine.” Klondike bars also do it in a very clever way by posing the question, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?”

3.  Freedom and Independence

Promising people a sense of freedom encourages people to look to you as a companion that supports their desire to break free from social norms and the confines of their current reality. Freedom to act courageously and get outside the box is an alluring proposition for many. Hospitals can offer a new improved life with the right kind of treatment and successful recovery.  Levi’s flips the freedom switch with its “Go Forth” campaign that celebrates freedom and the hard work that comes with it.

4.  Certainty and Understanding

The discovery of truth and knowing the inner workings of things can be very potent motivators for some. Promise to be a source of clarity and confidence, and you’ll tap the basic human need for security. Feeling safe is a comforting reward.  By communicating and becoming the source of helpful knowledge and information, hospitals can connect with consumers.   Lumosity brain training leverages this by helping people understand that they can improve their mental capabilities because of a thing called neuroplasticity.

5.  Achievement and Accomplishment

For many people, the act of doing something is fueled by an even deeper need to achieve a goal or to create for ourselves a sense of accomplishment. Promise to be a means to achieve this state, and you’ll find plenty of takers.  Good health and an active life is an achievement or accomplishment every consumer desires.  Hospitals wellness programs can certainly offer a promise of a better, healthier life.  Nike has consistently tapped the human need to achieve a personal best for decades. Then again, so has the My Fitness Pal application, where members have lost 100 million pounds since 2005.

Fleming concluded, “delivering on the promise in your message at every turn, of course, is the key to making your message work. Simply saying the words isn’t enough. Which goes without saying and is certainly worth repeating. Sound bytes alone won’t cut it. The promise must match the experience.”

Understanding what motivates our audiences is the key to creating messages that have stickiness. We should always strive to understand consumer motivation and then craft our message so we not only communicate but we connect – with the mind and heart.

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