Healthcare marketers are a paradox in that they have the luxury of being able to speak directly to their audience’s favorite topic—themselves—yet tend to fail miserably at it.
From where I sit, healthcare marketers are in a both challenging and exciting position. Challenging because the legal hoops they have to jump through can be rigorous and disheartening—and perhaps a good reason their messaging so often falls flat. Exciting because when it comes to healthcare marketing as a whole, most of it is really bad—rising above the crowd here won’t take too much.
Here are seven totally unoriginal (unverified and non-legally approved) suggestions that will make your next healthcare marketing program a whole lot more original:
1. Be More Social Than Your Average Faceless Corporation
Healthcare providers may have up, close, and personal relationships with their clients (or patients), but according to a report by the Health Research Institute at PricewaterhouseCoopers, these relationships are not extending into the virtual world.
The study found that nearly 90% of patients ages 18 to 24 and 61% of older adults said they would trust information from their health care providers found through social media. While 80% of health care companies have a social media presence, social media activity is minuscule.
2. Yeah, yeah, yeah—we need to be transparent.
You don’t need to share your secret sauce or patients’ records, but when you can, address your audience’s valid concerns.
3. Focus on short-term needs upfront; long-term fears once you’re in.
Sure, people are concerned about their long-term health, but they don’t usually make decisions that reflect that. Instead, they focus on their short-term comfort and instant gratification. A good example of this is presented by the dilemma faced by smokers who genuinely want to quit because they know it’s not good for them in the long-term, but it’s oh-so-satisfying in the short term. The key here and in many similar scenarios is to appeal to the short-term problems they need to solve.
4. Focus on the problems you solve and the outcomes you achieve … not your new state- of-the-art technology.
In general, people really just want to know that you understand their problems, can achieve the outcomes they desire, and/or that you’ve listened to their concerns. This is true of most people and applies to most marketing disciplines.
Remember, though, that healthcare marketers have a really great excuse to talk about their customers’ unique situations and personal concerns … and to let their customers talk about themselves.
What’s ailing them? What are their health and wellness goals? How do you solve the exact problems they have? What are some of the ways you’ve helped people in their exact positions before? How are you going to help them, specifically, achieve what they, specifically, need to achieve?
This is what you should talk to them about. Or you can talk about your awesome new x-ray units and how much you care.
On that note…
5. Don’t just say you care; show it.
Nothing shows you care more than consistently satisfied patients (or customers)—the real ones who are singing your praises on social media or in online reviews, not the fake ones who are actually just paid actors, according to the disclaimer on the bottom of your TV screen.
Nothing says you don’t care more than stock imagery. That’s all.
6. Ditch the fear; embrace the empowerment.
Sure, striking fear into consumers’ lives is easy, but it’s also a cop out—one that says more about you than it does about them.
Scaring people into using your services definitely works, but in order to scare them, it’s safe to say that they’re already scared, so why not just jump in and tell them how you’re going to empower them to be un-scared? Strengthening people is the goal of healthcare, is it not?
7. Be different.
In this homogenous market it won’t take much. Be informative. Treat people with respect. Show them how you’re going to help them solve their problems (which you have a great appreciation for and understanding of, by the way). Don’t use stock images of doctors wearing pristinely white coats, arms folded over their clipboards. Break some patterns. Don’t do things the way they’ve always been done just because that’s the way they’ve always been done. That kind of stuff…