Five things that healthcare advertising can learn from other industries or why you shouldn't necessarily stew in your own category juice.

What should healthcare advertising actually do for physicians and professionals? In addition to the provision of information, it is of course also a question of preference formation for brands, whether for product or corporate brands, whether for OTC or RX. In this market, too, a strong brand is indispensable in the competition of more and more products with similar services. Brands provide orientation and generally stand for clear promises and reliability. This is not new, but essential.

In order to successfully achieve this goal, healthcare advertising must actually only understand and address its professional target groups like "normal" people, in their role as recipients, with largely the same perception mechanisms and also perception problems as any other person as customer and consumer in a world of overabundance of offers and MeToo's, communication overstimulation and dynamically changing media usage behaviour.

So why are elementary basic rules in customer approach and brand communication sometimes interpreted so differently or even completely disregarded in this field? Here, healthcare advertising can learn from other markets for successful brand communication.

Profiling instead of just informing

Brands have to convince and inspire people (please always both head and gut!), also B2B. Building lasting brand preference therefore also means presenting brands as strong, powerful, likeable and ideally even superior personalities and equipping them with a relevant and attractive profile. This then requires the willingness and sometimes the courage to stage brands and not just to present them objectively via performance features. Emotionality is a highly relevant decision factor here too. Long-term successful and stable relationships between customers and brands are predominantly emotional relationships. Doctors and professionals are no exception. And even in the pharmaceutical world, there is a whole range of highly relevant emotions such as trust, recognition and respect. It is important to build and use these emotions - all of course within the legal framework.

Simplify and focus

"Say what you stand for, what you offer me, what I get from you. And please say it simply and clearly and please get to the point quickly. In healthcare advertising, too, it is not complexity but simplicity of the message that is required. The message should have the chance to assert itself in the competitive environment, be understood, arouse interest and be able to anchor itself. Therefore, it is important to reduce the effect, the mechanics, the benefit in the simplest possible way and to emphasize and stage the central point that distinguishes product and brand. For brand profiling, "less is more and usually more successful" applies. Detailed information and facts are often indispensable in healthcare communication. Doctors must and want to know more about indications, scientific background etc. in individual cases. There are numerous tools and stages for this. You can still do one thing without having to leave the other.

customer view instead of provider view

The temptation is great to present brands and products from the perspective of both manufacturers and suppliers: "We are, we offer, we can ...". Brands and companies quickly become scientific speakers, unattainable personalities that people like to trust. Even for medical professionals and professionals, the eternal and central question must be answered: "What do I get out of it? How and why does this product make my work and life easier and more pleasant? Why should I like and trust you?" The magic word in building brand preferences and customer relationships is now called "Customer Centricity". You have to know what moves your target group, adopt their perspective in finding solutions and building relationships, and align performance and communication accordingly. Whoever takes up this challenge can establish a relationship of trust or perhaps even a love affair much more quickly and effectively.

Creativity is not automatically dubious

A field with the greatest fear of contact. The cliché: healthcare advertising must be factual and serious, otherwise it is untrustworthy to repulsive. Really? Creative staging does not automatically mean loud advertising. Creative ideas offer a great opportunity for greater conspicuousness, better communication performance, better (because more pointed) profile building and greater appeal. In healthcare advertising, it is of course important to deal carefully with advertising staging and exaggeration, to take into account particularly narrow legal guidelines, not to create any overpromise or to not take the doctor and patient for fools. Clever and intelligent creativity always has a good chance of generating positive attention and a high level of acceptance, even in healthcare. It has a positive effect on the image, because creativity always signals special spirit, smartness and special performance. And it should always be based on real, relevant and provable benefits and characteristics. Creatively positioned companies or brands are perceived as strong and modern and therefore attractive. Particularly in a competitive environment with restrained to zero creativity, brands with truly creative appearances have the great advantage of standing out even more clearly in the advertising environment and of making an even stronger profile against the competition.

Conclusion: Successful healthcare advertising requires not only the necessary expertise in the subject matter, but also the knowledge of how to position and stage brands and how to inspire people and build trust in them. So have the courage to do something!

Marco Ludwig

Geschäftsführer der Wächter & Wächter Werbeagentur München, einer Tochter der Wächter & Wächter Worldwide Partners.