Success factors in value communication design – telling the story

Gijs Hubben presents part two of ‘Success factors in value communication design’, a set of articles that examines the key success factors in creating customer engagement tools that effectively communicate the clinical and economic benefits of pharmaceuticals, devices and diagnostics.

(Continued from Success factors in value communication design – start with the key message)

Telling the Story

To support the key message, you have to tell a compelling and credible story. A story is basically a sequence of evidence-based facts and assumptions that support the key message. The key message should be the first thing that is communicated during customer interactions.

As an example, let’s assume we want to communicate the following key message: “Adequate glycemic control will reduce the overall cost of diabetes treatment”. If we want someone to accept such a statement, we have to explain how we reached that conclusion and what evidence we have for it. We need to tell a good story: a series of short arguments that we back up with scientific literature.

“A good story clearly outlines the problem and the solution.”

To back up our key message above, we could for example present the following story:

The problem:

• The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is going to dramatically increase in the future

• Treatment of diabetes is expensive and mostly caused by preventable complications.

• If nothing more is done, diabetes treatment costs will increase dramatically also

The solution:

• One third of patients have HbA1c levels that are too high

• Complications can be prevented by keeping patients at optimal HbA1c levels

• Fewer complications means more sustainable diabetes treatment costs in the future

A good story clearly outlines the problem and the solution. We present our individual arguments in a simple and logical order. We should not try to tell our entire story in one slide, because this increases the chances of losing the chain of argumentation. It’s better to present one or two short arguments at a time.

“In any type of communication, the more specific your story is, the more effective it becomes.”

In any type of communication, the more specific your story is, the more effective it becomes. The story has to be relevant for the ‘context’ of your customer. This is where modern web technology can help to make our story both quantitative and interactive. We can quantify each argument in our story and express what it means in the context of our customer. This is called ‘tailored value communication’, and it increases the relevance of our story for the customer.

Instead of saying “The cost of diabetes treatment is expected to rise”, we say (for example) “In your population of 50,000 patients, you can expect a cost increase for treating diabetes related complications of $2,500,000 within 8 years.”

A customer may challenge us at any point in our story: “Well, in our hospital the per-patient treatment costs are lower than that”. We can counter by asking the customer what they pay locally and using that number in our presentation.

It’s easier said than done to keep our story clean and simple – the reality is that the evidence we have to present is often quite complex. The key to success is to layer the information properly: we present our high level argument without any distractions, and we allow the presenter to bring up additional details on-demand. This is the topic of our next article “Layering information”.

The next article in this series ‘Success factors in value communication design – Layering Information’ can be viewed here.


About the author:

Gijs Hubben is a health economist and one of the founders of BaseCase. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, including on the cost-effectiveness of infectious disease interventions, and screening strategies for hospital acquired infections. With a strong background in pharmacy, health economics and emerging technologies, Gijs’s understanding of the intersection of these disciplines lies behind the unique service offered by BaseCase.

Do you keep your story clean and simple?