Why healthcare brands need to focus on the problem (singular) they solve.

What are all of the ingredients in Advil? How many colors of Dr. Scholl’s inserts exist? What’s a bandaid made of? 

Unless you happen to be the CMO of one of these companies (and if you are, hey!), chances are you don’t know the answers to any of those questions. The reason for that is because health consumers (i.e. all of us humans) don’t categorize brands by the sales sheet outlining all the great value propositions, the perfect Facebook ad, or even the long list of product features.

People remember brands for the problem they solve.

Advil makes my headache go away; Dr. Scholl’s keeps my lower back from hurting; and bandaids are the things that my 3 year old puts all over her body because she likes the characters (hat tip to the licensing team over there). 

Good marketing makes it clear what problem you solve, great marketing also makes it simple. As any R&D department will tell you, their latest product idea has 35+ features that will cure everything from chronic lower back pain to a receding hairline, to making you forget about your awkward middle school phase. So it’s not always easy to find the perfect problem for a product to solve.

But lumping all of the problems into a long list of features and benefits is actually the least consumer-friendly thing to do — you will only confuse people. If you tell me that you solve 100 problems, it’s unlikely that I will remember any of them. Marketing needs to be simple and directly address our customer’s problem – especially in arenas as complex as healthcare. 

Don’t try to be a swiss army knife. Too many solutions makes you not memorable. Narrow your focus. 

Create a great problem statement by asking these question:

Look around and learn from other.

Here are a couple real-life examples in consumer healthcare that inspire me:

  • Crest learned that the problem can change over time. Launched nationally in 1956, Crest initially focused their messaging and product around cavity prevention. As people got less cavities they had to make the switch to focusing on whitening. AKA, they had to find a new problem to solve. 

  • Nyquil learned that solving a great problem allows for line extension. NyQuil’s introduction in 1966was built on providing complete multi-symptom relief in a single liquid product. “The nighttime sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine” was first coined in 1979. Outside of cold and flu symptoms, the parent brand Vick’s has seen the opportunity to meet the consumer need for a better night’s sleep with a new line of products.

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