Think, Feel, Do: Understanding the key qualities of engaging healthcare marketing.


With all the technology and access to information, people’s attention spans are limited. Understanding how to leverage "think, feel, and do" will help you better engage with your patients.

Not so long ago, marketers generally only needed to concern themselves with competing with other hospitals on a select group of channels (Broadcast, Billboards, Direct, Search, etc.). But today, you’re competing for more than just a share of advertising channels. In fact, your marketing team’s biggest competition may not actually be your competitors.

With seemingly countless information sources and media channels at your consumers’ disposal—Reddit, YouTube, Facebook, SnapChat, Netflix … the list goes on—people have short attention spans. Today’s healthcare marketer is competing with those heavy hitters for a share of your audience's time. It’s no longer just about going to where your competitors are. Now, you need to understand where your consumers are going and why they value these experiences over others that are available to them.

To engage successfully in today’s experience-based landscape, your marketing needs to be designed to engage and activate consumers to achieve three key outcomes: Think. Feel. Do.

Nailing these three will be the first step to ensuring your audience pays attention to you.

Think: Inform people and share knowledge

Gone are the days when people get all their knowledge from the doctor. Today’s healthcare consumers are more informed than ever. People want to know and expect to learn from the healthcare content they consume. The question, you as a healthcare marketer need to ask is: How can my organization’s marketing and content elevate people to a higher level of understanding?

This is all easier said than done, obviously. Just because you can provide information doesn’t mean the recipient is going to understand it. Literacy levels, language barriers, stress, and other factors all affect a person’s ability to absorb your information.

Getting your information to a place where people with low literacy, language barriers, and high stress are willing to consume it and trust it is going to go a long way to addressing this area of engagement.

For your content to inform people, it needs two things:

Make it easy-to-follow.Use large text and meaningful icons. If something can be made graphically, do it—infographics are great here.

Make it simple.You’re going to overwhelm people if your message is too hard to understand or if there’s simply too much of it. Whenever possible, cut down on the complexity and the volume of your message.

Feel: Form connections with people and engage them emotionally

Studiesshow that consumers rely on emotions to make many purchasing decisions, and it’s no different in healthcare. Healthcare is personal and it’s emotional. Your content can't simply engage intellectually, it must also engage emotionally.

Address people’s emotional needs and build connections. People always look for security, safety, health, and belonging. To create content that connects emotionally, ask yourself: how does my content make them feel?

This question is more challenging to answer than the previous one. Brands producing content that resonates with how a person feels should seek to build value, trust, and belonging. But this is almost never a “one-size-fits-all” exercise. People from different cultures and ages react to content in different ways. If you want to connect with people and engage them emotionally, you must first address this issue.

Once you understand your consumers’ personas, journeys, and expectations, look for ways to connect ideas to people’s core identities and beliefs. Seek to expose new ways of thinking through emotional connections, and tell stories that capture the experiences of real patients.

Do: Activate people to take a role in their own health.

The final element of engagement is “Do,” and it’s easily the most overlooked … which is surprising considering we as marketers focus so much on converting a consumer to a patient through action. So many times, I see marketing content that does a great job of informing and connecting with the audience, but offers no opportunities for future engagement. All that built up energy just goes away and nothing really happens. Don’t let that hard work go to waste, your marketing should activate people by providing them with opportunities to act.

According to BJ Fogg, behavior can be broken down into three factors: motivation, ability, and triggers. Motivation and ability are inversely related. If you have high motivation, you will be able to perform a hard task. On the other hand, if you have low motivation, that task needs to be easy for you to do it. Triggers are as their name suggests, their presence initiates the action.

Using this model, for your content to engage and activate people it needs to do three things:

Inspire people and build up their motivation.Your content will need to engage people to think and feel.

Remove barriers and promote easy activities.What you might think is a small barrier can be insurmountable for someone with low motivation.

Provide clear and respectful calls-to-action that connect with the message.They should stand out and be immediately actionable.

Engage on multiple levels

Content is everywhere and all that content will drown out your message if it doesn’t engage your audience. Focus on the three elements of engagement—think, feel, and do.

Dave Chlastosz