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How to Create Emotionally Resonant B2B Healthcare Marketing

Emotional Connection is the Key to a Healthcare Executive’s Heart

“Great marketing is about how you make people feel, and research shows that 92.3% of audiences are, in fact, human!” -Kathy Klotz-Guest, Marketing Strategist and Improv Comedian 

In the realm of business-to-business marketing and sales, the instinct is to consider decisions to be data-driven. But as thought leaders like Simon Sinek have discussed, the part of the brain responsible for decision making is not logical. Rather than focusing on how or what a company offers, customers make choices based on why a company offers it. According to recent neuroscience research published by Forbes, 95% of our buying decisions are ruled by the intricate workings of the limbic system—also known as the brain’s emotional center. Beyond food and shelter (ruled by the logical component of the brain), this system seeks connection and fulfillment. It governs feelings, memories, and most importantly, actions.

In essence, emotional connection is key to a client’s heart. This is interesting to consider in the world of B2B healthcare. Here, we are marketing not directly to individual consumers but to individuals responsible for making decisions on behalf of an organization. Healthcare leaders make weighty investment choices about long-term service partners, technology tools, and the like. Often, they release lengthy RFPs with highly logical lists of specifications and requirements new partners must meet. Yet, as studied extensively by sources like the Harvard Business Review, emotional motivators play a pivotal role in any customer’s buying decisions.

Therefore, in today’s competitive healthcare market, connecting emotionally is not just advantageous; it’s imperative for success. In this blog, we share our proven practices for connecting with healthcare executives, in order to encourage growth, positive collaboration, and long-term brand loyalty. 

Why Emotionally Resonant Marketing Matters to Healthcare Executives 

Marketing to healthcare executives presents a unique set of challenges. Not only is it a competitive space with long sales cycles, but it also requires a delicate balance between addressing the bottom-line and appealing to the emotional sensibilities of decision-makers.

Improv comedian and marketing strategist Kathy Klotz-Guest says it best: “Great marketing is about how you make people feel, and research shows that 92.3% of audiences are, in fact, human! Funny of course, but her message is relevant—perhaps even more so—for a B2B audience.

Even as they are tasked with large-scale decisions that have downstream effects for a swath of employees, partners, and customers, it is important to remember that healthcare executives are influenced—just like any other human—by their feelings. And often, they are under pressure to move quickly. Though the sales cycle may be long, when it’s time to contract with a new partner, the decision needs to be fast to minimize disruption to patient care. When making decisions—including about the best partner—the power of a decision maker’s “gut” cannot be understated. When vetting potential partnerships, healthcare leaders are looking for cues of authenticity and trustworthiness. That gut sense—and achieving a trustful relationship—is just as essential as the price tag on the proposal. 

That is why a steady presence of brand awareness, thought leadership, and relationship building is such a powerful approach. When it comes time to decide, you want to be thought of as the “trusted expert” for the challenge at hand. Whether they’re reading your content or speaking with you directly, healthcare executives seek an intuitive fit for their company’s needs and culture. On an emotional level, you want executives to understand that your team can support their team– that you’re a natural match, part of their tribe.

Whether they’re reading your content or speaking with you directly, healthcare executives seek an intuitive fit for their company’s needs and culture…. You want them to understand that your team can support their team– that you’re a natural match, part of their tribe.  

Top Tips for Establishing an Emotional Connection for Customers 

As with any long-term relationship, it all starts with an authentic connection. Effective marketing needs to transcend transactional interactions. Rather, it must focus on building genuine relationships and evoking visceral responses that resonate with customers’ needs and aspirations.

That said, here are our top tips for crafting emotionally resonant healthcare marketing:

1. Tell Evocative Stories 

Stories have a remarkable ability to captivate audiences and evoke emotions. As writer and essayist Joan Didion says: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” By illustrating the impact of your solutions through real-world examples like case studies or emotional social media campaigns, you can forge a deeper connection with your audience. However, don’t just model the competitors’ case studies or content strategy, dig deeper and find the ‘why’ behind your own marketing. Don’t just tell prospects you’re great, show them through stories. Narratives with concrete details lodge in your audience’s memory—exactly where you want to be when it’s time to choose a new partner or vendor. As technology and AI become a larger part of our society, the impact of an authentic human story increases. Compelling narratives engage the limbic system and stir hearts and minds. 

2. Be Honest and Vulnerable

Authenticity breads trust, the cornerstone of any successful relationship. Embrace vulnerability, show your humanity, and lead with transparency. For example, everyone highlights their strengths. Our advice? Don’t stop there: be honest and forthright about the areas where your organization isn’t as strong. Sounds counterintuitive, right? Let us explain.

It’s natural to want to please your customer, and express your organization’s broad range of expertise. You want to get the deal. However, it’s possible—likely even— that your team isn’t strong in every single area. Be transparent about this. For example, you might be fluent in LinkedIn marketing but not as familiar with TikTok. We’ve found that honest transparency about your team’s capabilities builds trust and starts a collaborative relationship. For example, clearly sharing that TikTok isn’t your team’s focus, but LinkedIn is an area you’ve experienced a lot of success engenders trust. 

This honesty serves two functions. First, aligning a prospect with your organizational strengths sets everyone up for better outcomes. Second, leading with honesty establishes a great starting point for trustful, lasting relationships. Vulnerability often inspires vulnerability. As you start having more open conversations, don’t be surprised if your prospect shares something vulnerable with you. When you’re both sharing honestly, you have the beginnings of a great partnership.  

Vulnerability often inspires vulnerability.  As you start having more open conversations, don’t be surprised if your prospect shares something vulnerable with you. When you’re both sharing honestly, you have the beginnings of a great partnership. 

3.  Show Clients You’re Listening 

Active listening is a powerful tool for building rapport and demonstrating empathy. Take the time to ask thoughtful questions, understand your clients’ needs, and genuinely engage with their concerns. In our experience, clients appreciate our expertise in the intricacies of the healthcare industry and the relationships we have with leaders at companies like theirs. However—and this is crucial—we also show that we genuinely care about their successes both professionally and personally. 

To demonstrate that you’re listening to clients, first learn their communication style. Do they want to meet in person, on the phone, or by email? From there, lead with a recap of your most recent conversation. Include references and points for follow-up: the rebrand you know they’ve been preparing for, the conference they just attended, the upcoming partnership they’re about to announce. Pay attention to what they share and take note of where they may need future help. Who doesn’t appreciate feeling seen?

4.  Surprise and Delight 

By showing that you care about your partners’ victories and milestones, you lay a deep and solid foundation for collaborative partnership. According to a recent Forbes article, “You don’t just need to anticipate your customers’ behavior and decisions. You really want to understand why they make the choices they do and how they feel about their decisions.” Here’s how we think of it: Once we clearly understand a client’s ‘why,’ we know where to begin to help. This can mean hearing a client’s request and in turn, responding to an underlying (even unspoken) need. For example, a client themselves may want to connect emotionally with their customers and suggest creating a series of blog posts for doing so. It’s our job to then think through the best medium for the message. Where a blog might suffice, a podcast or video might really make the story come alive for their audience.

Once we clearly understand a client’s ‘why,’ we know where to begin to help. This can mean hearing a client’s request and in turn, responding to an underlying (even unspoken) need.

Bolstered by active listening, this leads us to one of our favorite practices, which is to “surprise and delight” customers by going that extra unexpected mile to make their lives easier. For example, this could look like not only helping your client with last-minute presentation support, but then also taking the initiative to send them extra slides to facilitate a pitch meeting and set them up for a satisfying close. Or you might send your client an article that supports a business case you know they’ll need to articulate to get their budget approved. In effect, you want to help your clients succeed.

5. Center the Patient Experience

In healthcare, the patient experience lies at the heart of everything. By placing a spotlight on the human aspect of your services and emphasizing how you contribute to better patient outcomes, you not only resonate with healthcare providers but also align yourself with a higher purpose. For example, whether a healthcare company focuses on staffing, billing, IT, recruiting, or beyond, doing this work well will always positively impact patients. Some benefits to highlight could be greater care efficiency, reduced provider burnout, increased patient care access, and more. When you prioritize the patient experience, everyone stands to gain. Consider how your work impacts patient experience, care quality, and outcomes and tell those stories in your marketing. 

6. Use Humor Strategically 

Humor is a universal language that can break down barriers and foster camaraderie. Incorporate humor into your relationship building efforts, be it through witty anecdotes or playful banter. From a marketing perspective, try out light-hearted content in your social media posts or newsletters. Try shorter, pithy, and even visual content that adds a bit of flavor– in a way that still feels on-brand, of course. By injecting a dose of levity into your interactions, you create memorable experiences with your audience. Everyone appreciates a good laugh.

7.  Build Community with Clients 

Since the start of the pandemic, many of us have gotten used to working remotely– often at home in our gym clothes! (See what we did there? Cue section above.)  But it’s useful to get out and have the sort of coffee station interactions we had pre-COVID. We’re all humans who crave connection and belonging. Foster a sense of community among your clients by engaging in meaningful interactions, both online and off. Whether it’s through in-person visits, virtual gatherings, or active participation in conferences or industry forums, prioritize building relationships that extend beyond the purely business realm. Face-to-face interactions add staying power to relationships. And, prioritizing social interaction (ideally in person) can support the organic growth of relationships, again helping clients feel valued, heard, and supported. How does this help with marketing? You enjoy long-term client loyalty because you will have built, in essence, a tribe.

Foster a sense of community among your clients by engaging in meaningful interactions, both online and off. Whether it’s through in-person visits, virtual gatherings, or active participation in conferences or industry forums, prioritize building relationships that extend beyond the purely business realm.

Tap into the Power of the Human Element 

While the landscape of B2B healthcare may be nuanced, the power of emotional connection remains a constant force driving success. By embracing authenticity, empathy, and storytelling—along with prioritizing the human element in every interaction– you can forge compelling marketing and relationships that transcend mere transactions. In an industry where trust is the currency of success, emotionally resonant marketing and genuine relationships are the ultimate competitive advantage.

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