Mental health is a rapidly growing field of health care. As demand increases, it makes sense that mental health marketing increases too. Right now, more Americans are accessing mental health services than ever before – partly because the outbreak of COVID-19 has challenged us in new and different ways and partly because we’ve all become much better educated on the subject.
At the end of the day, mental health marketing is about connecting the right providers with the right clients. We can all benefit from getting this right. Here are two mental health marketing campaigns that demonstrate a mastery of the basics: knowing thyself and knowing thy target audience. Both use video. Both encourage people to ask for help. Both highlight the brand’s values. Both can give you ideas to incorporate into your own marketing strategies moving forward.
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Mental Health Marketing Should Know Thyself
JanSport is a popular backpack brand. At the height of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, it decided to conduct its own research to find out how its target market – Gen Z – was faring. It commissioned a survey through Pew Research, which revealed that 70% of people were struggling. The company wanted to do something about it, so it created that #LightenTheLoad campaign.
This is great for a few reasons – but let’s focus on the many fine puns that ensued:
- The mission was to “unpack” the mental health crisis
- If something is weighing you down, let it out
- If you’re not sharing it, you’re carrying it
- Help lighten the load
Remember this is a backpack brand. Its messaging was bold, consistent, and smart. It could have checked the proverbial “do good” box and blithely trotted out some clichéd comments about how much it cared for its consumers – but that wouldn’t have aligned with its values. Let’s be real: a lot of the copywriting that echoes around the internet really is incredibly lazy.
However, JanSport is a company that cares about social issues like fair working environments and modern slavery. As such, it invested the time and effort to create a campaign that brought these values to life with thoughtful messaging that tied the #LightenTheLoad campaign to the broader vision and mission. It knows itself and it has a very clear set of brand guidelines.
The importance of a great brand can’t be overstated, because it reflects the beating heart of your company. The best way to start is by gathering your team and brainstorming three things:
- Vision: Why do you do what you do? What are you hoping to achieve?
- Mission: How are you going to get there? What action are you going to take?
- Values: What principles will guide your decisions? How will you resolve conflicts?
Once these elements are crystal clear, you can move onto aspects like key messaging, visuals, sale funnels, and other marketing collateral. However, it’s important not to rush, because these statements are things you’re going to refer to over and over again as your practice grows and you reach the stage where you can launch mental health marketing campaigns of your own.
This one is the perfect example. The campaign probably didn’t make a lot of commercial sense – at least, not initially. It costs money to produce high-quality videos and create resources hubs. Don’t get us wrong, it’s great from a brand recognition and loyalty perspective, but it will take time for that to trickle down to your bottom line. However, JanSport’s values are such that it seized the opportunity to speak up and try to make a difference. We can’t help by admire that.
Key messaging need a refresh? It’s time for a new brand story.
Mental Health Marketing Should Know Thy Audience
Instagram is home to a community of approximately 1 billion active monthly internet users. This gives the company a front-row seat to people’s lifestyles, relationships, and internal monologues. Back in 2017, founder and CEO Kevin Systrom announced a campaign called #HereForYou. It included a blog (which you can read here) and a one-minute video featuring a number of Instagram users discussing their mental health struggles, including suicide, depression, anxiety. It was designed to show people the importance of finding support within their communities on the platform.
This mental health marketing campaign was great for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is the fact that it nailed its target audience. Instagram is primarily used by younger people, with an estimated two thirds of users aged between 18-34. The video features people in this demographic, talking about the kinds of issues that pop up on the platform all the time, before bringing it home with a frequently used hashtag. It’s presented in a way that makes them feel like your own friends, so nothing is forced or cheesy. It’s the right message, via the right medium, to the right audience.
Now, running a mental health marketing campaign for Instagram is a little different to running one for a suburban mental health practice. It’s a juggernaut of the social media world, with access to an enormous amount of data (and an enormous amount of people to crunch it). It’s unreasonable to plan a campaign at the same scale, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a thing or two.
Here are our key takeaways:
- Define your target audience. What kinds of people are most likely to come to you for help? How old are they? What gender? Where do they live? What’s their level of education? These questions will help you craft a message that specifically appeals to this group of people.
- Listen to your target audience. Once you’ve figured out who you’re talking to, you need to figure out what you’re talking to them about. One of the best things about Instagram’s campaign is the fact that it didn’t manufacture anything – it used words its audience was using, it explored themes they were exploring, and it used a hashtag that was trending.
- Meet your target audience on their level. Instagram users love video: first there were post videos, then there were Stories, then there were Reels. That’s why video was so effective for this campaign. Instagram could have created a mental hub, with a brand-new website and social media accounts, but it didn’t. It was restrained, with a simple but powerful approach.
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Inspired to Create Your Own Mental Health Marketing Campaign?
Mental health marketing can be as simple or sophisticated as you like. However, every successful campaign comes back to two basic questions. First, who are you? Second, who is your target audience? Once those are answered, you can start thinking about the rest of your strategy. What sets you apart from your competitors? Why should consumers care about your practice? How can you optimize delivery of services to give clients the best experience possible?
We can guide you every step of the way, whether you’re looking to change lives in your local area or change the world. We’re a full-service mental health marketing agency, which means our team can cover everything from branding to strategy, web design and development, videography and photography, social media, content marketing, paid advertising, and more.
Let’s put these lessons into practice. Schedule your free consultation now.