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As summer comes to a close, we can look back at how this season’s movies fared. Some films, despite their big budgets, were costly failures that never turned a profit and may have cost some movie executives their jobs. Others turned out to be blockbusters.
Every telehealth solution also has the potential to be a boom or bust (or something in between).
To avoid a costly failure (i.e. putting a lot of money into a telehealth technology, service or solution and having it fall flat in the marketplace), it’s worthwhile to learn from some of the common elements in popular movies.
For that, we’ll take several lessons from Hollywood to help create a telehealth “blockbuster.”
This summer, Marvel’s "The Avengers" earned a whopping $1.5 billion worldwide. Other blockbusters include "The Dark Knight Rises" (part of the Batman series) and "The Amazing Spiderman."
What do all of these movies have in common? Superheroes. And even if the biggest movies of the summer don’t feature superheroes, they do feature heroes. Time and again, in popular movies, ordinary people overcome extraordinary obstacles to triumph.
Success in telehealth also requires overcoming extraordinary obstacles – legal and regulatory issues, economic constraints, technical challenges and clinical concerns. Overcoming them is in fact heroic, and it may feel like it takes superhuman skills to do it. If you want to market or sell a telehealth solution to someone else, there is a lot you can learn from blockbuster movies and apply to your telehealth marketing.
Hollywood and telehealth lesson #1: People love stories
There’s no question about it: People love stories, whether in the form of movies, books or art.
Good writers and journalists attract their audience with real-life examples and human angles while making their points.
Why? Because stories are simply more engaging. People connect with others through stories.
Back to telehealth. Does your telehealth marketing tell a story? In other words, instead of presenting a dry description of a telehealth solution’s benefits, could you weave the problem into a story with protagonists and obstacles?
For example, instead of simply describing the benefits of telestroke technology, tell the story of a 45-year-old stroke victim who might have been unable to talk to his wife and kids again had it not been for timely access to a stroke specialist (and getting the clot-busting drug tPA) via telestroke technology.
Is the story compelling and engaging? Expert storytellers say the greatest stories have some kind of conflict in them. Mold your telehealth marketing message into a story involving conflict. You’ll have something that will at least get your target audience to take notice to see how the conflict gets resolved.
As food for thought, here are some of the conflicts faced by people in telehealth:
Hollywood and telehealth lesson #2: Everyone is a hero in his or her own story
People watch hero movies not just because they want to watch a good story, but also because they get caught up in the story. They see themselves as the hero, and so the hero’s victory is also their own victory.
So here’s the big question: Who is the hero in your telehealth marketing – you or your customer?
Marketing often makes the mistake of being egocentric, rather than customer-centric. Marketers want to present a problem and then talk about how their company or hospital has the solution. They cast themselves as the hero. This is where they fall short.
Everyone is the hero in the movie of his or her own life. They don’t want to see themselves as ones who can’t get their problem resolved. They want to see themselves as the ones who took action, fought the good fight, overcame obstacles, resolved their problem and earned the right to feel victorious.
The better story you can create for your prospects and customers with them as the heroes, the better your solution will appear to them.
Once you realize that you need to cast your customer/prospect as the hero, your story of conflict needs to be around their issues. Your hero could be:
If your marketing is egocentric, you’re telling your prospect how you will swoop in and save the day. If your marketing is customer-centric, then your customer will become the hero by overcoming the challenge that you’ve highlighted.
To put it another way, the better the story in which your customer succeeds while your telehealth technology or service plays a supporting role, the better your technology or service will appear to be.
Hollywood and telehealth lesson #3: Heroes take action
In the movies, many heroes (even the superheroes) are reluctant. They either don’t believe in their abilities or don’t believe it is their responsibility to act as heroes. However, through the course of the movie, they undergo a transformation and find the reason and/or courage to become greater. Often, they find their incentive when a painful event or circumstance kicks them over the edge.
In "Star Wars," Luke Skywalker plans to stay on his home planet instead of helping Princess Leia – until his uncle and aunt are killed. In the first "Spiderman" movie, Peter Parker realizes that by acting selfishly and choosing not to stop a thief, he probably contributed to his uncle’s death. Something that wasn’t his problem had become his problem.
Back to telehealth again. If your prospect/customer is not sufficiently incentivized to act, you need to cast him or her in a conflict in which he/she needs to take action (using your solution) to be victorious. This means that your message has to be strong enough to motivate them to act. The more emotional, the better.
To accomplish this, your message must do three things:
Ultimately, the power of your message impacts your prospect’s decision to move toward your solution, move toward a competitor’s solution, or move nowhere (i.e. maintain the status quo).
Make your telehealth marketing message convey a story. The story should present a conflict that is important to your prospect/customer. When you introduce a solution to help resolve the conflict, you must make your prospect/ customer (NOT you) the hero of the story. Make it emotionally compelling for your hero to take action to resolve the conflict.
Remember: The better the story, the better the solution. Not the other way around.
As the CEO of Hands On Telehealth, Nirav Desai hosts a web-based show where he interviews leaders in the telehealth industry and publishes an on-line newsletter focused on telehealth marketing and strategy. He also consults with hospitals, health systems and telehealth companies to help them fast-track the growth of their telehealth solutions through better marketing and strategy. You can get his free eBook “The 10 Secrets of Telehealth Success” at http://www.handsontelehealth.com/freebook.
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