Dear House Rules,
Our marketing team has noticed an increasing amount of “chatter” about our brands on social media, and this is content we cannot control. How do we counter this and take back the reins? We welcome input from our patients, but ultimately, we want to be the ones driving our brand’s marketing message. How can we accomplish this without turning off social media comments and rejecting the input of our end users?
Want to Stay in the Driver’s Seat
Dear Driver’s Seat,
With the ever-growing popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, many companies are scrambling to keep control of their message. After all, consumers are more and more used to speaking their mind in comments section—and since it’s so much easier to do that than to write to a pharmaceutical company’s medical affairs department, it suddenly seems as if there is an explosion of consumer input into brand messaging.
The key here is to tell your own story, and make that story synonymous with your brand. A brand story is a cohesive narrative that encompasses both the facts and the feelings that surround your brand. Unlike traditional advertising, which is about showing and telling about your brand, a brand story must inspire an emotional reaction. Things that can influence your brand include your product, price, history, quality, marketing, purpose, values, and–most crucially–what other people say about you. This narrative exists whether you like it or not.
Although brand storytelling has been around a long time, its newfound prominence is, we believe, directly linked to the rise of social media and to the very public conversations about brands that social media makes possible. Marketing blogs, for example, are littered with examples of how brands stumbled badly on Twitter or Facebook—and this becomes part of a brand’s story
Below are three principles of a good brand story:
- Understand your consumers: Like all good stories, pharma brand stories should always begin with a setup of the challenges a patient faces. With Type II diabetes patients, for example, that translates to understanding how the condition affects patients on an everyday basis—the mingled discipline and anger they feel every time the office candy dish is replenished, the guilt when they neglect exercising, the body-image issues that are just as real as the health threats
- Make your consumers the heroes: In health and wellness marketing, there’s always an underlying story of good versus evil and triumph of the human spirit. It’s about the struggle to overcome something that appears to be insurmountable, whether it’s dry skin or a much more serious, life-threatening condition or rare disease. This conflict is part of the human experience and it’s a story that we all know—at its core, it’s David versus Goliath
- Strike an emotional cord: Even in medicine, decisions are based as much on emotion as on rational thought. Just as the most affecting stories in novels and movies have a voice that adds emotion, the most successfully promoted brands have their own voice as well. Neuroscientists have proven time and again that stories stimulate consumers’ brains. Anthropologists have identified storytelling as a universal feature of every culture and every country. It’s one thing to talk about how Drug X was shown in clinical trials to reduce heart attack by X%, but it’s quite another to see and hear a patient talk about the grandchild’s graduation they almost didn’t make
Xavier Creative House is all about crafting stories. We specialize in bringing greater emotion to the world of pharma marketing, regardless of the message delivery platform. We’d love to share our expertise with you, and hope you’ll reach out via web, phone, or social media soon!
Reference: 1. http://www.echostories.com/whats-a-brand-story-and-why-does-my-company-need-one/. Accessed April 1, 2018. 2. http://www.pharmavoice.com/article/storytelling/. Accessed April 1, 2018.