Write a Story Your Customers Can’t Put Down

Dear House Rules,

Sometimes I’ll read novels or stories that are so compelling I can’t stop until I get to the end. How can I get clients to engage with my marketing content with similar enthusiasm? Or is pharma content just too different for us to apply the same principles as those in fiction writing?


Is Storytelling Universal?

Dear Storytelling:

Yes, pharma content is different from the straight fiction to which you’re referring, but the element of engagement is not. While maintaining all the required fair balance, approved claims, and appropriate legal language, you can also incorporate components that make for compelling literature to hold your clients’ attention. Good storytelling is indeed universal.

  • Title and Cover: These are your main Visual, to be used throughout your campaign across channels, and your primary brand message or Slogan. Just as the title and cover of a book are designed to make it stand out from all the others on the shelf, so should these core campaign elements be designed to make your tactic stand out from its competitors on a website, in a medical journal, in a physician’s in-box, in a healthcare professional’s waiting room, etc.
  • The Hero/Heroine: The Patient, of course. Every hero has one thing in common: the reader roots for him. Whoever consumes your media, in whatever fashion, should feel the same way. Paint a picture of your patient—the challenges they face, the changes they must undergo to achieve their goal. Think of a diabetes patient facing the “Bermuda Triangle” of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas—an entire season filled with chocolate and cookies, designed for overeating, and followed in many parts of the country by the cold and reduced exercise opportunities of winter. Keeping that blood sugar under control? Talk about a quest!
  • The Villain: The Disease. This one’s easy. Every medicine, every medical device, every healing therapy of any description is designed to fight a specific “enemy” (and note how often that exact word is used in advertisements). Diabetes. Cancer. Chronic pain. Heart disease. Detailing the symptoms of the condition, and perhaps more important, the effect those symptoms can have on the life of your hero/heroine, automatically makes your message more compelling.
  • Plot: There is no plot without conflict. Your hero/heroine’s journey begins with the primary conflict of Diagnosis. A once-normal pancreas, or aorta, or sciatic nerve, has “gone rogue” and now the patient is faced with the villain of his condition. He learns about multiple treatment options, seeks guidance to choose and pursue one, and must conquer the obstacles of side effects and lifestyle modifications that provide barriers to treatment. The Big Finish to your story? A successful resolution of the quest, a successful outcome, be it cure (for acute conditions) or management (for chronic conditions.)
  • The Helpers: The Sidekick is a familiar figure in storytelling. From the Best Friend in a favorite romcom to the Wise Counselor in a sci-fi or fantasy novel, these are the many characters the hero/heroine meets along the journey to vanquish the villain. Helpers provide the tools, the knowledge, and the vital assistance necessary to achieve a successful outcome. In our pharma world, helper characters can be:
    • Healthcare Professionals who educate patients about their condition and treatment options. Patients consider HCPs the most knowledgeable sources of information available
    • Nurses/Allied Health Providers who reinforce the big-picture education provided by HCPs and may also conduct ongoing testing and routine management
    • Pharmacists who specialize in seeing and identifying drug-drug interactions before they occur, and can emphasize the importance of compliance (if, for example, they notice prescriptions going unfilled)
    • Caregivers who are closest to the patient, and have the most opportunities to interact. It is vital that caregivers have as much information about the disease and the selected treatment as the patient does

No matter what type of story you want to tell, make sure to partner with an agency that is adept at creating strong product narratives that will engage your customers by bringing your brand to life.

About Xavier Creative House

Founded in 2013, Xavier Creative House (XCH) is an award-winning healthcare creative agency specializing in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device. XCH’s global team of brand builders and healthcare marketers, tech-savvy go-getters, and innovative dream-vetters are passionate about the big idea that changes behavior in the healthcare marketplace. They believe life is about connections and that healthcare is about life. That is why XCH delivers bold and evocative creative solutions, amplified by meaningful technology, to energize brands and authentically connect with patients and HCPs.

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For more information, contact

Sunny White
Founder & CEO of Xavier Creative House