How Comedy Would Reinvent the Healthcare Industry

All the worlds a stage and comedians have mastered the ability to also make the world its audience. As pharmaceutical marketers look to strengthen relationships with patients, prospects, physicians, distributors and other customers, taking cues if not material from professional funny people could help perfect connections with the target audience.

What can comedy teach us about health care marketing?

There is a serious side to funny business. The essence of comedy is often critique or observation about normally taboo subjects a role that pharma marketers often find themselves facing. Naysayers will be quick to rebuff the idea that comedy has anything to do with health care. After all, disease, sickness, chronic pain and other ailments are no laughing matter. However, comedians like Steven Wright have found a way to tackle comedy in a serious manner. While his dry delivery is a technique thats difficult to imitate, the real lesson is possessing ability to strike the right tone with your target audience.

Mundane inspiration can open the door to new ideas. Hard to imagine theres anything funny about a frozen lunch product, but Jim Gaffigan did just that with his Hot Pocket routine. By taking a fresh look at a mundane, everyday object, he brought a fresh perspective. Pharma faces similar opportunities in situations as varied as consumer advertising and physician marketing.

Be smart, be current. Smart comedy is tough to do because it requires a lot of thought and nuance and those who specialize in it, such as comedians like Lewis Black, arent afraid to conquer controversial topics like religion, politics and cultural phenomena. The health care industry needs that same approach when presenting information to the buying public. Sure, its nice to be entertained, but its even better when youre learning while laughing. Touching on topics people live with every day like heart disease and diabetes require a delivery thats smart and motivating, especially if youre hoping to encourage behavioral changes. By integrating humor and pertinent information in a smart and current delivery, health care marketers can connect with patients on an emotional level.

Expect the unexpected. Other than the two drink minimum, nearly every comedy show has a heckler somewhere in the audience. Handling hecklers those that cause disruption to your agenda can either encompass removing the offender, going on the attack or bringing the audience along for the ride. Jamie Kennedy chose to throw barbs at a heckler during one of his shows, but insulting customers isnt exactly a path to high ROI and not advisable for pharma marketers. Its important to anticipate the unexpected and have a plan for dealing with it. As technology brings change at an accelerated pace, health care organizations need to plan for new technologies, new approaches to doing business and the interruptions that may occur as they move to stimulate change.

Make it personal. Want to connect with your customers? Then you better make sure they can relate to what youre talking about. Jerry Seinfeld has a knack for fostering deep connections with his audience. Why? Because he gets personal and talks about things that nearly everyone can relate to. What also works for him is having stage presence and being as funny on stage as he is off. In todays transparent always-on society, health care companies need to make sure their actions and words are aligned whether thats in marketing materials or when engaging on social networks.

Comedians engage audiences by tackling sometimes-controversial, sometimes-uncomfortable subjects and, by humanizing them, engaging audiences in a way that makes the messages memorable a task that, unusual as it may seem, looks a lot like modern pharma communications. As any comedian will tell you, its all in the delivery.

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