Healthcare Marketing Blog

The Power of Storytelling for Healthcare Brands

“I believe the future of marketing is RELATABILITY, especially in our noisy digital world. To be relatable, you must be authentic and engaged, and there’s no better way to do that than telling a good story!”

Brian Fanzo

Storytelling is NOT the Best:

As marketers, we know that no one marketing channel is the best. All marketing channels have their strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right marketing mix depends on the context of the brand, campaign, and target audience. 

Storytelling is not an ultimate marketing channel, but it is effective and should be included in a Healthcare brand’s marketing mix. In Healthcare, there is an increased challenge in implementing storytelling: privacy considerations, patient hesitancy, and sensitivity around the subject. 

Goals of Storytelling:

Storytelling Goals

Despite the challenge, storytelling is a tactic worth implementing in addition to traditional scientific facts on the efficacy of a treatment. 

Let’s look at the ideal case scenario from a marketing point of view and examine how we can implement it in Healthcare.

Efficacy and Benefits Copy:

“Based on clinical research, our treatment for [X] condition has above 75% effectiveness. It has the following benefits [benefit 1], [benefit 2],[benefit 3]

Pro: It’s precise and concise. All relevant facts on efficacy and benefits fit within a few lines.

Con: It is not relatable for some patients as it doesn’t account for an existing emotional state and doesn’t paint a picture of a future condition-free life. 

With storytelling, we want to:

  • Relate to prospective patients
  • Tap into emotions to connect. In the context of Healthcare, those are usually:
    • Denial
    • Despair
    • Devastation
    • Hope
    • Trust
    • Happiness
  • Keep viewers engaged and interested 
  • Show the solution
  • Suggest a brighter future similar to the protagonist. 

The bottom line is that the story needs to make people feel better than they were before.

Stories make people feel better  

In this case, it can be as simple as this example.

Storytelling Copy:

“My name is John. A few years ago, I started suffering from [condition]. It affected my self-esteem and personal relationships. I felt stuck, and my family doctor struggled to help. In my search for answers, I found clinical research supporting [treatment], and after reaching out to [Healthcare Brand], I learned a lot more. For example, with regular diet and exercise, I can improve my chances of being cured to 75% or higher. This knowledge gave me hope, and once I booked the treatment, I already felt more confident as I had a concrete plan for the solution. The treatments took only two weeks and [benefit 1], [benefit 2], [benefit 3]. After only one week, I started to feel the physical effects of the treatment. Most importantly, I was back in the driver’s seat instead of the condition ruling my life. If your story is anything like mine, I suggest you check out this [treatment] and [Healthcare brand].”

Pro: Relatable story to potential patients that still covers all the scientific facts and benefits of the treatment. Its main selling point is the potential for a condition-free future.

Cons: It’s longer, and you may have increased activation costs, although your story can better catch patients’ attention for an extended period. If done incorrectly, it can seem inauthentic or assume that all patients feel the same.

Steps to create a Healthcare story

Define Storytelling Goals and Performance KPIs

All marketing resources (budget, staff time, and energy) are limited. Savvy marketers will utilize the resources for the highest ROI by focusing on what works best. Storytelling is labour-intensive, so before you embark on this journey, you must be clear about your goals and how to measure success. You already have a social media posting, but you will be doing too much work without this first crucial step. 

Build scalable “Find a Story” process

An award-winning investigative reporter might spend 6 to 12 months researching a great story. Then, you must visit places, talk to people like patients, doctors, and nurses and find the hook to the story. Creating an authentic storytelling campaign will take a lot of time to execute if you start from scratch because you lack facts.

The solution is to have a scalable process to gather your “facts” before needing them. Then, if this process proves efficient, it can also help other marketing channels.  

In the context of Healthcare marketing, the storytellers are usually clearly defined, and you can implement a feedback capture system for each possible protagonist. 

  • Patients: Very typical Hero journey from conflict to solution: 
      • Do exit interviews or surveys
      • Ask for a review
      • Ask if they would be willing to document their story in written, audio, or video format.
  • Loved Ones: In our opinion, less utilized protagonists in Healthcare stories:
      • Get them involved in exit interviews
      • Ask for a review as well
      • Ask if they would be willing to document their story in written, audio, or video format.
  • Doctors/Nurses
    • Encourage to document patient stories in written, audio, or video format
    • Allow your staff to post their reflections on owned media assets using their real name. The benefit to them is increased authority online. 

Must-Have Storytelling Elements: 

Storytelling Elements

The final format of your story will define how much detail you flesh out within the content. Still, most stories will follow this format. 


The setting of a story is critical to understanding a character’s background and developing empathy toward the protagonist. 

Protagonist (Hero)

The protagonist might tell their own story (easy to connect) or tell it from the point of view of other characters (loved ones, doctors, etc.)


In Healthcare storytelling, it is usually the health condition and its effect on life. Since we are trying to connect the characters on an emotional level, limit the use of scientific terms. 

Hero’s Journey

The protagonist must undergo a journey and resolve a conflict to become a Hero. This part of the story is where you flesh out how the Healthcare provider and protagonists found each other.


Every quintessential Hero has a coach. For example, Moses had Aaron, Luke, Yoda, and Rocky had Mick. The typical Healthcare Provider role is the Coach, but you can use an alternative approach to nudge the Hero to take proactive action. 


This part is where the whole story comes together, and by keeping viewers attention, this is their reward. In the Healthcare setting, this would be the treatment and its effects. 


Viewers need closure (a Resolution) after the Climax. We usually find the Hero facing the same situation as at the story’s beginning, but they are a different person now. 

In Healthcare, this can mean living without the condition or being able to manage the health condition affecting them. In essence, they return to their former self, and it’s this future we want viewers to imagine. 

You Must Keep People’s Interest

While we live in an age of TikTok and a 7-second attention span, a storytelling format is naturally longer than the regular ad copy format. Therefore, you must proactively build hooks into the story to keep your listeners engaged.

You can utilize such techniques as a cold opening, unexpected facts, and emotional appeal. The key is to remember that most listeners don’t want to read, listen or view long content. Yes, many will binge-watch a reality show about police in Wisconsin, but it must be formatted right, and this is where “Art” meets the science. 

A bored young woman

Activating a story

An important question is how to activate your story. The format will define your ultimate cost of editing and distributing content. 

The typical range of possibilities:

  • Commercials:

Be aware of the time limit of 30-to-60 seconds and the challenge of telling an exciting story in that time frame. One of the solutions is to create a teaser that leads to longer-form content on your website.

  • Patient Testimonials:

Website videos are the most common and practical format. However, you should still include written testimonials for those who prefer to read or need a nudge to see the story. The challenge is that patients may be hesitant to go on the record. One of the ways to overcome it is to use actors to recreate written statements. 

  • Journal Features:

Create a monthly/weekly feature where your medical staff is journaling their patient stories. This content can be distributed to sites like and is easier to obtain than content from patients. Make sure that the final story passes all of the privacy checks. 

  • User-generated content (UGC) 

This method is the most cost-effective way to get storytelling content, whether it’s property reviews or positive social media posts from former patients. These days, most people have their own social media following, so you can get an extra reach when they share their stories.

Drawbacks of Storytelling

Storytelling Drawbacks

Increased cost compared to typical copywriting.

If you read this far, you know that authentic storytelling is not something you slap together and hope it sticks. Instead, it requires finding the story, writing an exciting script, dealing with formats, and bringing people to your story. Compared to that, running a search Google Ads campaign is a breeze. 

Digital storytelling can be challenging to manage.

When you work with doctors, nurses, and patients, you will discover that it can be a unique challenge to keep them all motivated, especially in the long term. Therefore, your “Find a Story” process needs to be scalable. 

Your first story might not get heard by people.

The first time you tell the tale, it may only reach a handful of people. Mainly if you don’t have an existing audience or the story is intended for outside prospects. Be prepared if, after much effort in crafting your story, not many listen. But, as more people discover your valuable content, they will encourage others to explore your message. It takes time, and you must be patient.

People can take a different meaning away from your story.

Although a digital storytelling effort aims to create a specific, measurable outcome that applies to all listeners, the reality of telling these tales can be very different. You can have people hear something very different because of their own experiences and perspectives.

There is only one chance to hook the listener.

You do not have much time to make a positive first impression either. Most listeners take 7 seconds max to determine if your story offers them any value. Then they take another 20 seconds to decide whether they made the correct choice.

The bottom line

Storytelling in Healthcare marketing has its place in the marketing mix. A captivating and authentic story is challenging to create, but the results will be worthwhile if done right. As a result, your brand will have greater emotional appeal and trustworthiness. 

Don’t do it half-heartedly because that won’t work. If you rush through the creation process or don’t have the patience to let the momentum build, then you may be unable to maximize the potential gains that are available with storytelling.

If you need help crafting and distributing a story for your Healthcare brand, do not hesitate to book a call with us

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