But there is a way to make important messages heard among the crowd, a form that we have always used but that is increasingly being adopted as a communication strategy in the health field, the power of stories or also called with your name in English, “storytelling”.
The beginning of the story, the power of stories.
We all remember a story that we were told when we were children, at the time of going to bed, told by one of our parents or because our teacher told us, etc. The human being has used the fact of telling stories and listening to them as a form of communication, teaching, and entertainment since always.
Stories, because of their playful nature, can persist in time in a way that other forms of communication do not. According to a study from Ohio State University, a story with its beginning, development, and end, can influence more on the opinion of someone than a logical argument. Why? Because by telling it, the listener is placed in the focus of the action, so that he is forced to pay attention. In fact, this study shows that someone’s brain while listening to a story reacts more as a participant of it than as a spectator.
The storytelling in the health sector
Until now, the basis of communication within the health sector has been scientific information. But there is a growing need to establish an emotional link and scientific information does not connect with emotions.
Given that the emotional factors when making a decision about a brand are important at 63-85% (these statistics are based on products such as cars, cereals, and magazines), therefore, the emotional connection between sender and receiver will be equal or greater in the health sector, taking into account the role it plays in our lives.
Patients and families that are affected by chronic diseases, rare diseases, serious disorders, or terminal illnesses; they are part of a wide spectrum of expectant public, waiting for any help or facility that can be offered. El storytelling in the health sector serves to build trust and commitment between patients and professionals, including doctors, nurses and other caregivers. There are more and more scientific studies that recognize the importance and effectiveness of storytelling through clinical case studies, academic lessons, hospital rounds, etc.
It is a tool that can help patients in communication/relationship with health professionals, linking and sharing their diagnoses and treatments with the experiences of other people. In this way, the information acquires an immediate character and, therefore, more real. Stories can help increase people’s motivation when talking with professionals, understand their illness, learn about treatments, be advised by health professionals and their recommendations on changes in habits and drug regimens.
An example that we love is Kurere, a social platform to share experiences about diseases with real cases of patients. An excellent initiative to empathize with patients and relatives and better understand each of the processes of their illnesses, including overcoming them, but also to gather interesting information for health professionals.
The storytelling in health marketing
In addition, stories are also effective in health marketing: they offer support in terms of correct information about therapies and ensure that an honest image of the product or service reaches people. They also help to build loyalty, reinforcing the relationships between the health brand and patients.
The story should include real people and situations, and show how the product or service affects people’s lives. It must offer a new perspective and have a clear purpose, be it education, information or simply offering peace of mind. It can also be used to show what is interesting and different about the company or the product, and how it brings added value.
When creating the story, it is important to start by getting to know the audience, for example, if it is intended for patients, doctors, nurses or other health professionals. This will determine the choice of content and the language used. During the development of the story, the key ideas will come from the narrator, be it a patient or a health professional, and the names, places and direct quotes will make the story come alive and add authenticity, creating an emotional bond.
Traditional stories have a beginning, development and an end; besides the main character (be hero or villain). They also have a change of destiny, a transformation. A well structured and memorable story will face characters and situations, perhaps with the disease as a villain and doctors or drugs as heroes. In addition, the best stories include a surprise element counterattacking the assumptions and expectations that the listener had formed.
To expand the message and to make sure it is remembered, brand history needs to be creative and irresistible, but it also needs to be told clearly and consistently, and all scientific and medical information must be reinforced with evidence. The data will also provide validity and credibility.
Whether the story is told on paper or on a web page, in addition to the importance of words, the good visual presentation is also necessary. It has to be clean, clear and simple, with long texts combined with images, photos, videos of the patient or doctor and graphics of all kinds with the relevant data.
The stories can be a simple text, or a digital content, and can be distributed through a variety of different channels, from magazines or newspapers, through smartphone apps, social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. Thus, through digital media and social networks, you can reach people who do not use traditional media to get information.
Although we must not forget that new technologies and digital media have covered a large part of society, but not its entirety. Information channels considered traditional are still the only means available to many people. They also have the right to feel understood and supported and, above all, to have a support community to which they can go when they need it.
In short, Storytelling is about telling a story, it is a technique that consists of connecting with your users, either live, in writing, or through a story with your character and plot. In an industry where it is increasingly difficult to be heard and where being reliable is critical, storytelling can offer a different approach to give relevant, reliable and memorable information.