It's a whole new era for some very familiar challenges.
In some important ways, healthcare marketing hasn’t changed at all since the days when doctors advertised for cigarettes (look it up). For brands and agencies like Distill Health, the goal of everything we do is still to build a market for a product and create strong, lasting connections with users and purchasers alike.
But the most effective ways to do so? They’re transforming by the day.
Ask most healthcare marketing agencies, though, and the solution to that challenge always seems to focus on one thing: great “creative.” Combine the right killer art and copy, capture the iconic visual, launch the right campaign, and you’ll break right through the clutter and sail straight into the right hearts of minds.
At Distill Health, well, we think a little differently. We think a new era of healthcare communications demands a new approach to delivering brand messages — one that’s less reliant on beautiful art and show stopping headlines, and more focused on the way healthcare’s key audiences find information they need and value. The crux of that approach isn’t creative. It’s content.
Here are a few of the key reasons why.
In healthcare marketing, creative often is the clutter.
This challenge is far bigger than healthcare, but particularly for healthcare marketers. Here’s why.
Just in general, people hate ads. Not just passively dislike them, but hate to the point of active avoidance. Not “Is this thing over yet?” hate, but a whole new level of “I’ll use software to avoid this” hate. Most people see what we call “creative” as distracting, disposable clutter that they can’t Marie Kondo fast enough.
Now, map that challenge to one very specific and challenging audience in particular. One that’s already time-starved, overworked, and burning out faster and faster every day. Healthcare professionals — critical gatekeepers for many healthcare brands — can barely stop for their patients, much less even the most eye-catching creative.
But they will stop to look something up on their phones, share a case on social media, and google an unfamiliar practice challenge. In other words, they’re both active users and creators of content relevant to their practice and patients. Match their interests with more of that content, and a brand stands a chance of being seen on the right channel, at the right time, by an interested audience that’s ready to click.
And that clever hook? That mysterious/intriguing/provocative lead line? Save it. Why add an extra step between “add to cart” and “buy now”? Speak to what they’re searching for. Answer their questions before they click. And always, always include the keyword.
We know our audiences. Especially the non-human ones.
Switching from disposable creative clutter to audience-engaging content is the first step. The next is knowing the right audience for that content.
Hint: It’s never just the human consuming it.
It’s not the CIO, the practice administrator, the surgeon, or the potential Series D investor. Not the patient who may be using the product or the purchaser who may want 500 of them for her healthcare system.
All these audiences matter, of course, because they all can be critical stakeholders for a healthcare product. But they’re all far, far less likely to ever be your audience if Google isn’t first.
Today, most effective brand storytelling doesn’t start with ads. It starts with an algorithm. With the decision a search engine makes about whether your story is relevant and your brand is authoritative to the audience you want to reach. Strategically crafted content can be the key that gets your story past that gatekeeper and into your audience’s search results. Great content — backed by solid keyword research and published in the right channels — takes brands places that great creative will never see. Or ever be seen.
Of course, that content can and should be creative, engaging, and shareable. But making the shift from creative to content means looking at every word through Google’s eyes first. And then refining your messaging for each target (human) audience.
Great creative is captivating. Great content is attributable.
Creative creates a feeling and grabs eyeballs. It makes people think. From time to time, when it’s really good, it can make people re-think something.
All great outcomes. But to reboot an old adage for our age, if a tree falls in the forest and it doesn’t produce metrics, did it really happen?
Creative may create feelings, but content delivers performance that can be measured and matched to outcomes. In healthcare marketing, we know how vital those are — whether they’re reduced incidence rates, shorter LOS, and overall survival, or CTR, CPC, and CLTV. As we enter the era of value-driven services, healthcare marketers are facing the same adaptive pressure as the brands, systems, and professionals we serve. That means focusing on investments with clear results and validated benefits. And that means shifting to content that shows its work and proves its impact.
Don't get us wrong
At Distill Health, we’re still as creative as they come in healthcare marketing. We’re creative thinkers, storytellers, analysts, and problem-solvers. But we believe in putting creativity to work. Whatever you make for you — whatever strategy, asset, or solution we create — it will be designed to product results. And today, that means channeling every byte of creativity into the best possible content we can serve to your target audience. Human and algorithm.
Ready to start building a strong, sustainable content strategy for your healthcare brand? Let’s get in touch >