9 Ways to Leverage Visual Storytelling Today (and the Future)

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Your brain “reads” images faster than words alone. And for hospital and healthcare storytelling, it’s a powerful way to communicate compelling and more memorable ideas in branding, marketing and advertising. Show before you tell.

As you and I spin through the blaze of thousands of marketing messages that assault our brains each day, the ones that are purely text are rarely noticed.

Consider your Twitter stream as one example. Tweets with a picture or graphic break the squelch on scanner-mode brain, at least momentarily. The Tweets in straight text are mentally dismissed as a gray blur between the obviously more valuable, and graphically highlighted ones.

The same is true (generally) for the various other social media, advertising messages and the thousands of marketing messages that demand our attention.

Technology and contemporary marketing methods—the battle for a share of the consumer’s mind—has trained our brain’s attention gateway to sort and filter inbound messages according to a hierarchy. Visual stuff is more important than text alone, just as audio-plus-visual input is higher on the totem than either stimulus alone. And so on.

“Getting through the clutter,” for effective healthcare and hospital marketing and public relations is complicated and challenging. But visual storytelling is a powerful tool for communications professionals that can deliver greater impact and results. Consider this checklist of (sometimes overlapping) options:

Text as graphics: Notwithstanding our preamble, bold use of text (letterforms) can form an attention-getting graphic or super-graphic.

marketing visuals and graphicsPhotos and drawings: The mind interprets images in about 13 milliseconds. In addition to your own pictures, consider the dozens of free image sources. Many are listed here.

Charts and graphs: Complex information is more easily interpreted when distilled to a chart. Excel and other common software will draw them in a snap.

Pinterest-logoImage-driven social platforms: Effective marketing plans often embrace Pinterest, Instagram, Mobli and dozens of other visual sites.

Infographics: Audiences love informative graphics that quickly condense data, text and images to digestible images. What’s more, clever and interesting infographics are easily sharable.

youtube video sharingVideo (long form): You may be surprised to know that YouTube—owned by Google—considers itself to be a search engine for video content. Although YouTube is big, there are dozens of other video share websites available.

Video (short form): Both Vine and Instagram are quick and easy to use. But being creative and interesting in a few seconds is the challenge.

Video (live streaming): Periscope and Meerkat have jumped into the spotlight as live and recorded video streaming…of anything, from anywhere. Healthcare marketers are finding imaginative uses for real-time video that communicates and educates.

Virtual and Augmented Reality: VR and AR are on the not-so-distant horizon. It’s hard to say exactly when the march of technology will bring the immersive, multimedia VR experience to mainstream use. With a solid foothold in popular gaming applications, VR, AR and even 3D experiences are certain to move to medical, scientific and healthcare messaging.VR birth

Visual storytelling for hospital, healthcare and medical marketing applications is, in many respects, already a major tool for communicators. What’s more, visuals of all sorts are commonplace and growing in popularity.

Tell us: How are you using visuals to leverage your marketing messages…today and in the future?

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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