Why pharma marketing needs a healthy dose of emotion

31st August 2017

Authentically connecting with audiences is the holy grail of marketing, but for many pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing teams it can totally feel out of reach. Compliance, patient confidentially, and government regulations can all take the heart out of marketing messages.

However, with marketing theory continuing to push the benefits of emotional messaging, and consumers becoming more savvy in how they consume media, it is time for pharma brands to work out how to harness the power of emotion once and for all. To help you kickstart an emotionally-driven marketing strategy, I’ve pulled together 5 essential steps for your next medical marketing video.

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1. Why emotional video works

Why does emotional content work so well? It’s all down to how we’re hardwired. I’m simplifying here, but the brain can be thought of as two parts; System 1, which focuses on emotions and is concerned with our immediate satisfaction, and System 2, which is more logical and deliberative (being what we would typically consider as “thinking”). An emotive video triggers immediate reactions from our System 2 mind which affects behaviour in viewers without them even knowing it.

In the context of the multi-channel environment with so much content vying for our clicks, it makes sense to aim for the System 1 part of the brain with emotional content to help encourage audiences to take action. Logical content can be used to reinforce decisions in the System 2 part of the brain – this can be especially useful for short-term sales uplift – but we need to lead with emotional content for long-term brand growth.

2. What drives your audience emotionally?

The audience is at the heart of all marketing, but it can be difficult to really put your target demographic and their needs first rather than focusing on your medical marketing product.

Creating buyer personas can be an effective solution to keep you on target here. The persona is a fictional visualisation of the various segments of your audience featuring their demographics, behaviours, passions, lifestyles – even their name. You can build a picture of your audience from surveys, campaign data, sales insight, and desk research. There are lots of guides online to help you construct your personas, such as Hubspot’s helpful post.

When you think about your audience this way it humanises them helping you to key into their emotions. Take this film for Aptamil’s nutritional baby formulas.

The video works so well because it concentrates on the emotions of the audience wanting to do their best for their child. Every prospective or new parent will have millions of questions, and be searching online for help; that’s where the Aptaclub site comes in, full of content to inform and reassure them. In this way, the brand is building trust with the audience, not overtly pushing its products. Read more about this series of healthcare marketing videos here

3. Play the emotional driver game

In relation to defining the audience, when we’re creating a brand film, we look to pinpoint the emotion drivers for the brand. This is basically working out what will drive the target audience to buy our client’s product or take up the CTA. This includes becoming healthier, achieving personal goals, being a better parent, or in the B2B market, winning a promotion, earning more money, or peer approval.

I advise that you are as cynical as you dare to be when you identify these emotional drivers. Here’s an exercise to try. Start by writing down between five and 10 drivers of your audience, and then take a more realistic view.

“Do they want to save money and look good in front of their boss?” turns into “Are they just tight and a bit lazy?” This latter driver gives you the emotional hook to run with in your video. I recommend you play this game in your next campaign for improved results.

4. Video marketing brings pharma to life

Once you have your target audience fixed in your mind, it’s time to create compelling video content. Focus on your personas, drivers and goals and making those emotional connections rather than the features of your healthcare products. Then the type of video content you choose and the platforms they’re hosted and seeded on, will be dependent on your audience’s behaviours and your related campaign goals.

Animation can be highly effective at explaining the often extremely complex messages that pharma and medical brands want to share. Take this example from Roche, which seeks to show how the brand’s treatments can benefit those affected by haemophilia.

In the video below, that we created for Sanofi, the focus is on emotional drivers rather the product. The film follows the journey of those affected by diabetes as they beat all the odds and achieve their goal of reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The branding is minimal but the life-affirming message resonates creating positive brand associations for their diabetes medication.

5. Improve the health of your pharma marketing campaign

With digital marketing campaigns, there are always opportunities to improve the content and get better results for your brand. You may already A/B split test your email campaigns or social ads, but are you also maximising the success of your video content by testing?

It is vital to continually improve your results by checking the data via Google Analytics, YouTube and your social channels’ analytics. Is your video reaching the right demographic? Is your target audience responding well to the content or abandoning the film? How are your CTAs doing?

We would advise creating different versions of your video and then A/B testing to identify which one will get the higher conversion rate. Ensure that you only change one thing at a time – for instance, test titles, calls to action, length and so on until you are confident that you’re hitting the sweet spot. It is also important to look at a large enough sample to ensure that your results are accurate, not just a fluke.

Take these five steps in your next pharma marketing campaign and let me know how it goes. I’ve just written a book all about video marketing strategy, which is available for pre-order – connect with me on Twitter @jon_hurricane or on Linkedin for updates.

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