Using the Incredible Power of Story-Selling

pawn stars Success often arrives wrapped in a compelling story. And “storyselling” is a highly effective path to achieving your medical marketing or advertising goals…from winning case acceptance to bumping up the price of a service or product. Here’s a quick look at how this idea applies to the business side of healthcare.

A Las Vegas pawnshop seems an unlikely setting for an illustration, but the History Channel’s Pawn Stars is the canvas for showcasing mini-lessons from history. The naked reality of ordinary, over-the-counter transactions would not be very interesting—much less a highly-rated TV hit. But the History Channel cleverly uses it to present history in interesting little oral-history stories. 

What’s more significant, as you’ve likely seen, the value of an object for sale is enhanced by its historical context. The final sale often hinges on provenance—the stronger the story and documentation of its origin, history and authenticity the greater the value (and more money that changes hands).

In the retail world, consider how clothier Eddie Bauer makes storyselling a key component in it’s brand messaging. “Est. 1920,” and the tagline “Live Your Adventure,” setup an advertising context for a line of “world-class expedition and ski wear.” An expensive jacket is just a jacket. But a jacket “built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first American ascent of Mt. Everest,” and designed with “some of the best mountain and ski guides in the world,” is a great value at $569.

Now transfer the concept of story selling to healthcare. For everyone, having (and telling) a compelling message engages and attracts prospects and patients. For elective, or cash based services, a powerful brand message validates prices or price increases. And for many commercial insurance reimbursable services, it can help negotiate better contracts when the market sees a powerful brand as the go-to choice. Using storyselling can also:

  • Engage patients and prospects;
  • Personalize your value proposition;
  • Increase case acceptance; and
  • Enhance patient compliance and outcomes.

A good story makes a lasting impression (unlike a string of facts and numbers); context imbeds it in memory, and a truly effective story will be re-told (as in word-of-mouth and patient referrals.)

To devise your own interesting story-message, first consider the audience. Only subject matter that is of consequence to the listener will capture attention and deliver value. Outline a beginning, middle and an end for each story. (You’ll want more than one.) And finally, to be truly persuasive, resolve the story with an outcome of importance and personal impact.

For more on this idea, read our previous article, Emotional Transportation: How Physicians Can Win Patient Compliance and Improve Outcomes with Purposeful Storytelling. And see the Harvard Business Review post, If You Want to Raise Prices, Tell a Better Story.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.



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