Emotional Marketing in Healthcare is an Effective Way to Engage Your Audience

 In Branding

“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” — Native American proverb

Health and healthcare are topics where emotion prevails. You can promote your product or service using a plethora of data and quoting years of research to back your claims. However, to many consumers, evidence-based verbiage can either convince them that what you have to offer is exactly what they need or want, or it can turn your message into a snooze factor. Add “the human touch” and your marketing suddenly may strike the right chord.

Tapping into the emotion that already exists is a smart direction for your campaign to pursue. Back in 2009, author Hamish Pringle wrote an article in AdAge entitled Why Emotional Messages Beat Rational Ones. Even a decade ago, he quoted data showing that emotional campaigns are nearly twice as likely to generate large profit gains than rational ones. Emotion is the link that connects the healthcare consumer with a brand.  So why not let that brand that benefits be yours?

Fact is, emotional marketing in healthcare works because it is both authentic and empathetic. And guess what that triggers? According to a study led by Ann Graybiel at MIT, dopamine plays a significant role in decision making; concluding that when a marketer wants to influence decision-making, it is worthwhile to consider the dopamine factor brought about by emotion.

Some examples of successful, emotional marketing campaigns include the online video, “Breathless Choir,” wherein Philips used several real patient stories from people with breathing challenges to promote their portable, mini-oxygen concentrator. The patients then all assembled together to learn to sing and the choir performance they gave was both awe-inspiring and successful in generating many consumer inquiries for more information about their product.


By telling stories that were inspirational and real-life, GlaxoSmithKline’s “What Powers You?” campaign targeted any number of positive emotions from viewers. Showing people packing lunches for the homeless and including notes of love and reassurance in the lunch bags made their OTC cold-and-flu product secondary to the message they delivered.


Another example of effective emotional marketing is Hollister Incorporated’s quarterly, Secure Start Services eNewsletter. Dedicated to the ostomy community, each issue features a cover story of a patient who has been helped to live their life to the fullest using Hollister products and their support services. There is always a call-out in each issue for readers to engage with their fellow ostomates: “Words are powerful remedies. Sometimes just the right ones, at the right time can spark a feeling of relief or connection. Your story about your ostomy journey may touch someone going through the same experience. It could give them a sense of hope and helpful ideas…. Is yours the next story we feature?

Finally, if you needed any more convincing about the effectiveness of emotional marketing, consider that the American Marketing Association found that “activating a positive emotion fosters processing of health information, while activating a negative emotion hinders processing of health information. Positive emotions like hope, peace, humor, inspiration, interest, joy, and gratitude can be effectively used in healthcare marketing campaigns.”

If a patient can benefit from your healthcare product or service, but they have no idea who you are or what you make or provide, then consider emotional marketing as an effective way to introduce yourself to the patient and get their dopamine pumping.

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