Increase Patient Engagement by Telling a Hero vs. Villain Story

If you want to increase patient engagement in a fresh, creative way that stands out, tell a story. One type of story that naturally complements pharma brands is “the hero vs. the villain.” Your brand is the hero. Your villain is the condition with which targeted patients struggle.


To make a positive impression on patients right out of the gate, slip your pharma brand into a cape.

Become a powerful brand storyteller

Before we dive into how to craft the perfect hero-villain story, let’s start with some storytelling basics. 


You’re a patient marketer, but are you a storyteller? The answer is simple: yes. 


Technically speaking, everyone is a storyteller. Aren’t you telling a story when you explain an embarrassing moment to a friend or share a childhood memory? The difference is that not everyone is a practiced and powerful storyteller. 


Cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner states that messages delivered as stories can be up to 22x more memorable.


To effectively convey key brand messages and increase patient engagement, you need to improve upon your innate capacity for storytelling. 


From beginning to end, your story needs to captivate your target audience. It needs to be compelling and emotion-evoking in order to activate your audience’s empathy. It needs detail and a sympathetic main character.

Positioning your pharma brand as the hero

When you think of a hero, you probably think of fictional characters such as Spider-Man and Supergirl, or maybe your mind goes to firefighters and doctors. But what about insect repellant, low-sodium soy sauce, and, more apt to your specialty, medicine? 


In storytelling marketing, the definition of a hero expands to encompass any product or service that vanquishes a villain to certain members of society. 


Insect repellant vanquishes bugs. Low-sodium soy sauce vanquishes high blood pressure (for a commercial’s sake, obviously there’s more to it). Medicine vanquishes diseases and other unpleasant afflictions of the mind and body.


Your pharma brand is the hero, vanquishing the ailment your target audience of patients faces. Show that to patients through storytelling.

Craft a personalized “hero vs. villain” story to increase patient engagement

So how can you tell a branded hero-villain story while adhering to the strictures of MLR? By creating a STORSOFT Story.


STORYSOFT Stories include built-in pharma-compliant features, like ISI and full prescribing information, making approval quick and easy, and they can be shaped in whatever way you like.


Crafting a "hero vs. villain" digital experience for patients to engage with opens the door for them to learn more about your brand and how it can help them live a better life. 


Say you’re selling acne medication. Acne is your vicious villain. Your once-a-day capsule is the hero, stopping Acne in its tracks.


You’d want to set the scene by showing the villain at work. In the example in the first section of this blog, Acne is dramatized in comic fashion to be a shadowy presence in the protagonist's life.


You could also go the realistic route, presenting a video of a patient skipping a fun event because they're embarrassed by their acne. 


To make it relevant to each patient, perhaps you add a survey question asking patients about their experience battling Acne. Or you could have them mark their problem areas on a mock face.


Personalization is a sure-fire way to increase patient engagement, and it allows you to collect pertinent data to aid in improving upon future digital stories.


By the end of the story, patients should see Acne vanquished by your pharma brand, the protagonist ready to live a happier life without Acne tainting it.


Patients will put themselves in that protagonist's shoes, feeling the relief and joy they are feeling. Creating mirror experiences in marketing gets people more invested in brands' stories.


Once a patient is all in, they'll be receptive to your messaging, following your CTA(s) to your brand website or to a patient program signup, etc.

Patients are bombarded with therapy options. To rise above the rest, you have to leverage storytelling marketing, appealing to patients' unique needs.


Highlight the villains in patients’ lives and prove that you’re the best pharma hero to take them down.

Create "hero vs. villain" stories for pharma with STORYSOFT's digital storytelling platform. Learn more.

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  • Hear how it works
  • See example digital Stories
  • Walk through the analytics
  • Get your questions answered