This article was originally published by DTC Perspectives on April 30th, 2019. http://www.dtcperspectives.com/build-bottom-line-effective-listening-tapping-emotion-strong-engagement/

Health and wellness, pharmaceutical, and medical-device providers must navigate an ever-evolving and consistently complicated healthcare landscape. Agencies (and corporate marketers) serve a key role in helping their clients problem solve, understand their challenges, and identify critical success factors.

How is this best accomplished? Through the power of thorough, intuitive and intentional listening, and strong engagement – with both the client and consumer.

It’s critical to tap into that certain something that bridges the gap between what agencies (and corporate marketers) think they know and what a client (or brand manager) needs to understand. The reverse is equally true. What does the client (or brand manager) and consumer know and what do we as agencies need to understand? It can only be arrived at through intentional, deep listening. And from that, valuable insights result. Answers rise to the top. Incredible ideas and campaigns are born. If you’re an in-house marketer, this means listening to your team and to your end consumers.

I’d argue that much of the best creative work and constituent engagement is accomplished by listening to, understanding, addressing, and integrating human emotion. You need to know what consumers feel to know how to reach them. It’s critical in today’s competitive marketing landscape, a chilly land of technology and data.

Listening Builds Communication

Communication builds patient, caregiver, and healthcare professional engagement. Engagement is the new currency for building sustainable brands.

Good communication, brought by attuned engagement, is a giant step away from frequently asked questions and data-driven answers. It is not time-consuming, but rather a deal closer. It is what sets you apart from the competition and, ultimately, what builds the bottom line.

Listening Builds Trust

Trust is as important as price for today’s patients. When we understand that today’s patient is motivated by trust and that it is just as important as price, we see a level playing field. We understand that, when all things are equal, the deal breaker could be due to a lack of trust resulting from our own inability to effectively tune in.

“The Art and Value of Good Listening” – an article published in Psychology Today – declares that listening is an art, but that good listening also depends on gauging the mood (and mindset) of your audience. Is the patient / caregiver upset? Are they fearful? If tapping into human emotion requires listening, it also requires compassion and understanding.

Beyond Listening: Emotional Branding

Effectively listening to our audiences on an emotional level involves knowing what to listen to. We need to identify the aspect of the consumer’s life that requires a solution. Then we need to understand the emotion behind this and link the product or service in a way that is emotionally relatable.

Emotional branding insists on forging an emotional connection between products or services and the consumer. Those connections can create brand loyalty among consumers. The emotional connection has to be positive and it always has to be relevant. It is either identifiable to consumers or represents something they believe in.

  • “This medication helps migraines,” for example, is not as emotionally connected as, “This medication will help your migraine, so you will be able to spend more time doing the things you love.”
  • UPS does not simply deliver packages. They deliver happiness and dependability.
  • Nike insists that we aspire to greatness – that we just do it. We may not always see greatness in ourselves, but it is something most of us would like to aspire to. Therefore, we identify. With health and wellness, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, we are inviting people to regain health, to take back their livelihood, and to feel better.

A medical device may keep a patient out of the hospital, which falls in line with the new, value-based care initiatives and the merit-based incentive payment system. And a physician or medical office manager may have an emotional response to this type of marketing – better patient care and adhering to government regulations in a single move.

Branding: What Science Says About Engaging People

According to research and information gathered by The New York Times and Content Marketing Institute, 92% of consumers respond to advertising that feels like a story. Additionally, the human brain can process images or graphics 60 times faster than words. Taken together, this information suggests that a story with disruptive images is our best bet when marketing to potential customers. If we can tap into human emotion using these two mechanisms, we have an excellent starting point.

We gain trust by listening and good communication. We learn where consumers are on their respective journeys, and we deliver what they have asked for or what they need to go forward.

We learn to bring consumers in by allowing our brand to tap into human emotion.

Businesses that effectively engage also do so through value creation, rather than revenue extraction. They provide their audience with something meaningful beyond a sales pitch – an emotional appeal, a smart end-to-end experience, great content that is relatable on an emotional or real-time support level.

Six Strategies to Help Build Trust & Engagement

Relating to your audience begins with understanding them and how they differ from each other. Take the time to see the differences in your audiences, segment them, consider what drives each of them to “raise their hand,” customize your message, and take action. Then engage with them. Our marketing must be organic and customizable to reflect a personalized approach.

Remember, we no longer live in a business-to-consumer world. Given today’s digital landscape, it is a consumers’ market, and they hold all the power through engagement.

Here are six basic strategies to help you improve engagement:

  1. Understand your audience through segmentation and persona development to gauge where they are in their journey.Customization is key. We cannot merely market a package. We have to market customized solutions. Further, we need to make it obvious to the patient, caregiver, or healthcare provider that we are tuned in to their specific We understand that their goals or needs are unique and deserving of our laser-focused attention. Remember, no broad strokes! Segmentation is probably as broad as we can go. In other words, optimal marketing strategies must categorize patients, influencers, or clinicians by demographics and behaviors.
  2. Create educational value as defined by each audience; there is no such thing as a successful “one-size-fits-all” approach.Education means it is our turn to speak. We have heard what the patient, caregiver, or healthcare provider has to say. We understand the need. We are not merely providing a customized solution. We are educating on how this solution will work and how it will propel them forward and closer to their goal(s). Clients and product managers – AND CONSUMERS – want solutions. They also want to understand how things work. They demand one-on-one connection, and each connection will be customized to run parallel with their need.
  3. Become trusted advisers by looking out for our audience’s needs.When we accurately and consistently address our audience’s needs, not just the product or service’s attributes, we do a better job of reaching consumers. Take the time to draw strong connections between a patient’s or healthcare provider’s needs and desires and your product’s or service’s offerings. Act in their best interests by providing quality information. Your communications will resonate better and be more appreciated.
  4. Develop content that anticipates questions and be in many places.Develop branded and unbranded communication, including non-personal promotions through an omnichannel approach. This affords audiences multiple opportunities to connect and communicate with your brand and the people behind it. We are easy to find. We are everywhere. Try to make sure your solutions fall before the consumer’s eyes. Analyzing your segmentation demographics is an excellent way to anticipate potential inquiries and put forth the information before it is asked for.
  5. Identify, engage, and connect with consumers via social media.Do not be afraid to reach out. Do not be afraid to study a patient’s or healthcare provider’s journey from the beginning and meet them where they are (both in their lifecycle and online) with real solutions. At the same time, we must make our presence known and our solutions easy to find. Stand out by standing everywhere – including on social.
  6. Keep asking what consumers need, including how you can improve. We should be on a continual journey to better understand what consumers want and how to improve the solutions we offer. We can never improve if we do not engage and ask our respective audience how we’re doing.

Through surveys and tuning in, we may discover that a service or product is confusing or that our campaign’s messaging is lost. When we are very close to an idea – from the drawing board on – we may think that our understanding is translating well to the audience when it is not. By asking, learning, and adjusting our communications, we also improve our consumer relationships.

The Bottom Line

Everything comes back to listening, understanding, and effective communications. To discover what consumers need most, you must fire up your listening skills and pay attention to their requests and concerns. Understand where they are on their journey and what is preventing them from reaching the next level.

Through attuned engagement and understanding, we can address consumers’ needs in more effective ways and bring our brands greater success. By carefully listening, we can tap into human emotion and imbue our marketing solutions with a greater chance of penetrating.

It is incumbent on us as marketers to help each healthcare practitioner, patient, or caregiver feel like we are speaking directly to them. Through smart segmentation and marketing customization, we can improve our ability to establish emotional connections and drive engagement.

 

Kim Carpenter is an Associate Partner and Managing Director, Health & Wellness at HCB Health. Connect with Kim on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimcarpenter2/