Every hospital claims to have the best doctors, the latest technology and incredibly compassionate nurses. And nearly all of them do, in one way or another. Think about it: with hundreds of brilliant doctors out there, new technology emerging everyday and caring people throughout our communities, is it really a stretch to believe that some of these things can be found in nearly every hospital?
As a patient entering a hospital, that’s a good thing. As an ad agency branding a hospital, it’s both a challenge and an opportunity. Here’s why. First, if you make the same claims as everyone else, you don’t differentiate your hospital’s brand, you simply blend in. And second, even if you make those same claims louder than all the others, you’re solely communicating the features of the hospital, not the benefits. And advertising is almost always better—and more effective—when it focuses on the benefits.
Think about it this way: you don’t choose one hospital over another because they have the best doctors, technology and nurses (aka “the features”). You choose that hospital because of what those doctors, technology and nurses can do for you: they give you a better chance of getting well (aka “the benefit”).
In Luke Sullivan’s best selling book on advertising, he recounted this old industry maxim:
People don’t buy quarter-inch drill bits. They buy quarter-inch holes.
That’s something we always keep in mind as we’re developing an ad campaign—whether it’s for a hospital, a pharmaceutical company, an aerospace engineering firm or a new line of bodybuilding supplements. Some of our most recent work for Bethesda Heart Hospital is a good example.
We could’ve talked about world-class doctors and innovative technology and compassionate nurses—because they certainly offer all of these things. Instead, we focused on the benefit: Bethesda helps you live longer.
This creative strategy has had a major impact on brand awareness. The first day these two billboards appeared, they generated 474 hits on the hospital’s website (that’s huge in their market). And, according to our client, they’ve continued to generate more buzz for the hospital than any other billboards in recent years. As an agency, that makes us happy. It means we’re doing our job. It means more people are talking about Bethesda. And, hopefully, it means all those little, greedy relatives out there won’t see Uncle Marv’s money any time soon.
(On a side note, for more advertising wisdom, I highly recommend Luke Sullivan’s book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Advertising. (I’ve read it 3 times over the last several years and, every time I do, I learn something new. Check it out.)
Paul Amelchenko is Creative Director at bfw Advertising+Interactive in Boca Raton, Florida. Follow him on Twitter @PaulAmelchenko. bfw is a tight knit collection of writers, artists, designers, technologists and thinkers who share a common passion for doing great work that makes things happen. For more information call (561) 962-3300 or visit www.gobfw.com.