We’re living in a 3.4 second reader attention-span marketplace and the competition for our customer’s attention is fierce. Inundated with paid ads and thousands of decisions about what to pay attention to—just like us—HCPs are overwhelmed by the sheer noise of it all. It’s our job as healthcare marketers to cut through the market chaos and grab the attention of our ever more elusive HCP audience.
First, know thy audience and know them well. Then, be “sticky.” Meaning, create content that keeps our audiences coming back for more. We do this by creating a conversation that’s relevant and deeply engaging for the target reader. But even more importantly, we have to be brief. Delivering snackable, bite-sized content morsels that are clear, to the point, and again, highly relevant. “If you confuse, you’ll lose,” New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller once wrote in his book Building a StoryBrand. The salient point of the story being, “Clarify your message, so your customers will listen.” And to compete in a 3.4 second attention-span marketplace, we need to be brief, while still delivering a clear, compelling story that can engage our chosen audience, and travel across multiple marketing channels.
The Diminishing Attention-Span Marketplace
The average adult sees 6,000 to 10,000 advertisements every single day1. Additionally, the average adult makes more 35,000 decisions a day2, and he or she is awake for about 940 minutes3. That means the average adult makes an average of 34 decisions and sees about 10 advertisements per minute. The burnout is real, folks. Also, there are 1.2 billion websites on the Internet, with over 500 thousand new websites going online every day4. Having your brand make an impression in this environment, is quite an undertaking indeed.
The Elements of Persuasion—Logos, Pathos, and Ethos
To stand out, we need to give HCPs what they need—the information to make decisions that positively transform patient outcomes. All wrapped within an unforgettable story. We can use Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion to see how this works5. We start by deeply understanding the therapeutic area and scientific information (what Aristotle would consider the “logos”), followed by the emotional triggers at play (for example the patients affected by a disease, the “pathos”), and then packaging it in such a way (employing a thought leader, for example) to establish credibility (the “ethos”). The fusion of these three elements is what makes for a compelling story. For example, at Avant Healthcare, we recently executed a multichannel campaign on a client’s rescue treatment for postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). We started with a story that placed the patient directly at the center—with imagery featuring patients in visible states of duress. Additionally, we employed top anesthesiologists and PACU nurses to tell the story of this important rescue treatment, how it works, and its unique market position.
The Art of Brevity (Snackable)
Once you have the story, it’s crucial to craft the right message by channel, yet still maintain the overarching story, or “story arc” across multiple marketing channels. You wouldn’t want a simple banner ad to be burdened with blocks of copy, or a white paper that’s laden with visual imagery. You have to find the right balance of art and copy for the vehicle you’re creating. For our client’s PONV rescue treatment, we developed the theme-line “Gag. Retch. Rescue.” for a campaign series that also featured images of patients experiencing those exact symptoms, which are common in patients suffering from PONV. We supplied a simple link (ponvrescue.com) that our chosen audience could click through to learn more about the disease and treatment. Provocative? Yes. Slightly unsettling? Certainly. But both theme and imagery demanded the reader’s attention while pushing our point across, quickly. PONV is unpleasant and our client’s therapy can help. It was this directness, brevity, and focus on what matters to our audience, that made the campaign so successful.
After all, directness and brevity are what HCPs want and need today. As most of them don’t have time to sort through mounds of data and numerous peer-reviewed papers to stay up to date on the latest therapies. It’s our job to bring them the relevent information they need right now, to better the lives of their patients. So, the learn here for me? Make your storyline relevant and compelling, tell it with authority across the multitude of channels and platforms where HCPs live and work, and of course, place brevity as your top priority in all your marketing materials.