Storytelling and HCPs. A Story With a Happy Ending.

So what do HCPs want when they walk onto the exhibit floor and visit your booth?

Very simply, make them smarter than when they walked in. Conventions and congresses offer an opportunity to meet face-to-face with HCPs and in a time with decreasing access, this elevates the importance of your marketing.

In addition to enhancing their knowledge about your product and service, HCPs want:

  • Clear and concise messaging
  • Information that helps them educate patients
  • Hands-on demonstrations
  • Engagements that are interesting
  • Most current, up-to-date information / data

Explaining the science behind any given drug or medical device is complex. Utilizing tools and resources that help explain, visualize and in some cases even make it fun, is important. Yes, I said fun.

  • Demonstrations
  • Animations
  • Gamification
  • Virtual Reality
  • Video

It is valuable to realize from the outset that while the “wow” factor should be strived for, providing an opportunity for in-depth understanding is the most important. And this is where storytelling can help you elevate your brand and/or your product and make it memorable.

On an exhibit floor there is a lot going on, with many distractions. HCPs can be tugged in a many directions and often times drift aimlessly around the exhibit hall. How do you as an exhibit marketer attract HCPs to your booth? By creating a story that incorporates an integrated approach utilizing all aspects of your exhibit.

  • An attractive exhibit booth
  • Pre-show activities
  • Interactive technology
  • Well-trained exhibit staff

So what makes storytelling so effective for educating HCPs? It provides the perfect way to communicate and educate on complex subject-matters. In many cases, we know that HCPs are accused of “doctor-speak” when talking to their patients. This is when patients look at the physician as if they are listening but what they are really hearing is Charlie Brown’s school teacher … wah, wah, wah, wah and wah. Effective storytelling keeps the audience in mind and makes the story interesting and relatable. In the case of HCPs, it also should be educational and compliant. This engagement opportunity can also be used to provide HCPs with information they can to bring back to their practice to educate the patient.

Good stories build trust and connections and utilize a beginning, a middle and end. When done right, this makes storytelling an effective means to engage HCPs that may be open to learning more. Utilizing storytelling can be a much more engaging way to convey information then reviewing graphs, abstracts and data points. Often times there is more than one story that needs to be told within the exhibit booth. This makes having not only the right exhibit staff but a well-trained exhibit staff very important. One of the top priorities for HCPs in the exhibit hall is being sure their time is utilized wisely. This makes “prequalifying” HCPs important. Make sure the right “story” is being shared with the right HCP.

Be sure to keep in mind that just as in any other industry, HCPs may prefer to learn in different ways. Knowing your audience is key to a successful exhibit marketing strategy. Storytelling typically incorporates aspects that can appeal to different audiences, such as visual learners, auditory learners and those that learn better when there is an emotional component to the story. In all cases, you want the HCP to connect and remember the engagement.

Facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they’re part of a story…

Storytelling promotes learning that is remembered. Psychologist Peg Neuhauser is noted for research that shows that learning from a well-told story is remembered with more accuracy and for a longer time than learning from charts and graphs. Other research by psychologist Jerome Bruner shows that facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they’re part of a story.

The New York Times awhile back published an op-ed on the importance of storytelling. Why Doctors Need Stories, highlighted that learning through stories was important for connecting with the patient. It also discussed that stories alone, without the science is not what HCPs need or want. However, using storytelling that integrates both the human experience and science should be an important consideration for any healthcare marketer.

I read the following analogy and think it makes the case for storytelling as an effective, memorable teaching tool. If someone asked you to tell them about the plot of a movie they watched many years prior, you probably could. However, ask that same person about a data table that was in a presentation they saw last week and you’ll probably get a blank stare.

Everyone has a story. Poretta & Orr would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can bring yours to life in an exhibit environment. A story with a happy ending.

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