Removing The Luck From Personalization In Healthcare

In a recent New Yorker cartoon, a woman muses, “I hate the person my targeted ads think I am.” As people become more familiar with how their data can be used in a personally relevant manner, their expectation for authentic personal messaging increases as well. It’s like your mom knowing not to give you a ham or peanut butter sandwich because she knows you hate the taste of ham and you’re allergic to peanuts.

But think of all the fails. For instance, you get a pitch from a realty broker saying “find a new home with us” showing a photo of a house — the one you just purchased. Or you receive a “happy first birthday” greeting for your little one, but you miscarried at six months. Or you’re served prostate cancer treatment options on a digital platform, but you’re not a man (and never have been).

That’s the curse of personalization in a nutshell. But we can do better.

America has always prized individualism, and today, thanks to tech innovation, people are more individualized than ever before. We’re celebrating that individuality and embracing brands that show up for us in smart, authentic ways.

This puts a new level of responsibility on marketers, especially in healthcare where the relationship requires greater accuracy, integrity and sensitivity. We can’t guess what will resonate. We can’t use rear-view analytics to validate our approach. Leaving anything to chance in this data-rich era is irresponsible.

If the purpose of healthcare is to help people become better at treating or living with health conditions, we need to start from a place of relevancy and honesty. Here are three marketing priorities for brands to consider in striving for deeper, authentic relationships with patients and healthcare providers:

    1. Brands have a strategic imperative to be more human given 92% of consumers prefer brands to tell stories. Make sure you treat people less like users and more like individuals by writing content that makes them feel as though a person were speaking to them.


    1. Brands must show up authentically. Don’t try to be what you’re not. What will resonate with consumers wanting to make ethical consumption decisions are health brand offers that are true to what the brand stands for. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama walks the talk in saying, “We Cover What Matters.” By maintaining a large network of healthcare professionals with broad coverage, the company shows it understands that people need a choice in their insurance plan to feel that they’re getting what is best for their personal health situations.


    1. Brands must take the lead in a future of more complex individualization of patient needs. How will your brand leverage content for Web3 platforms among people with a vested interest in the same chronic conditions? What’s your marketing plan to facilitate greater access to and patient compliance with treatments designed for personalization with 3D printing or virtual reality? How are you going to keep pace with the growing adoption of health DNA testing that leads to greater demand for preventive approaches to potential health conditions?


Up till now, analysis has been used to validate a marketing campaign or reveal where we missed the mark well after the campaign’s launch. But getting it right begins with data that helps eliminate the guesswork. Being customer centric is not something to simply aspire to — it requires ongoing practice. Build time into your brand development and marketing communication programs for sufficient data capture and modeling, and you’ll reach the right people at the right time where they are amenable to the right message. We can help you remove the luck from personalization in healthcare by using data to understand the complexities of audiences. Just reach out to john@petersen@luckie.com to see how.