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Creative Thinking: How to Generate New Ideas for Better Healthcare Marketing

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Animated 3D stick figure holding up an "on" lightbulb against white backgroundSomewhere in everyone’s job description—expressed or implied—is the need to be creative. And we know from experience in that it’s doubly challenging to be creative on demand. Surprisingly, a little coaching can help the process of generating good ideas for better healthcare marketing and advertising. Here are some secrets about being creative from, of all people, an auto industry authority.

The first lesson is that helpful examples can be borrowed from non-healthcare sources. J Mays, the chief creative officer for Ford Motor Company, is no stranger to creative thinking. Recently, he authored a brief but insightful column in Esquire Magazine titled, How to Have a Good Idea: The Secrets of Being Creative on Demand.

“You only know what you know. If you haven’t had experiences that take you out of your comfort zone and challenge your perception of the world, you’ve not going to have any ideas,” writes Mays.

Our thoughts: Life experience is part of the fuel in marketing, advertising and creative thinking. Breaking away from the familiar can offer new vantage points and energize new ideas.

“I always do an analysis of some kind. But you’ve got to set aside that side of your brain to be creative,” according to Mays.

Our thoughts: Applying this to medical marketing (or most any business for that matter) -- having a clear, analytic picture is a good starting point. But if you confine your thinking to the black and white numbers, you’ll go no further than the “given” situation. Thinking beyond those borders is where creative thinking begins.

“A lack of confidence drives companies to copy each other. But nobody remembers the second or third person. Everyone remembers Lindbergh. Nobody has a clue who the second man to fly across the Atlantic was.”

Our thoughts: There’s nothing special about a “me too” message. The essence of healthcare branding—for a hospital, a medical practice, or an individual provider—is the ability to differentiate and be first in the mind of the target audience. Good ideas require confidence in being set apart from the competition.

“We take a lot of time bringing the emotional quality out of sheet metal,” Mays observes.

Our thoughts: The primary reason that people “buy” healthcare is for happiness. (We suppose that’s also true for buying a car.) Being creative in healthcare communications is largely about finding the emotional connecting point.

We admire and respect creative thinkers and good ideas. Doctors, hospital executives, healthcare marketing professionals can use these and other exercises to understand and expand on the creative process.

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