Medical marketing is about far more than marketing to get new patients, although that’s a great benefit.
It’s also about using your knowledge and training to encourage healthy behavior.
The thing is, a lot of the information we have about influencing behavior comes from the worlds of marketing and psychology.
As a health care provider, you can use this information to communicate health messages in a way that is more likely to yield results.
The word you can use to make a big difference.
Ellen Langer, Ph.D, a psychology researcher at Harvard, performed a now famous study about people making copies (cue old SNL skit). In this study, she found that people making a small request (Can I go in front of you to make 5 copies?) were more likely to get a positive response if they gave a reason.
The stunning part of the study is that it didn’t matter if the reason was good one, just that the reason was given. Here is the breakdown of the numbers:
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?’ yielded 60 percent compliance.
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I am in a rush?” yielded 94 percent compliance.
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” yielded 93 percent compliance.
It seems like the magic word is “because.” Bo Bennett of Socially Psyched explains the study in more detail in this video.
Because is the most important blogging word
Now, imagine for a moment why this matters when you talk to patients via your medical blog. Which do you think will work better?
“It’s flu season. Don’t forget to schedule an appointment with our nurse to get your shot.”
“It’s flu season. Don’t forget to schedule an appointment with our nurse to get your shot, because it will cut your chances of being shut down by the flu this year in half.”
Don’t just assume that patients will follow your recommendations blindly. Give them a reason to do so. Say, “Because.”
There is an important point here. It wasn’t good enough to give just any old reason when the request became more significant (make 20 copies). This of course, will be the case with most medical suggestions. So make sure your reasons stand up to scrutiny by using these two suggestions.
First, you aren’t just any marketer, you are a medical marketer. So be sure that the words that follow “because” are backed by solid medical evidence.
Second, frame that evidence in a way that matters to the patient. Don’t use jargon, and give benefits the patient can appreciate. “The flu vaccine decreases morbidity,” is probably not going to cut it. “Cut your chances of being shut down by the flu this season by half,” is something most of us can relate to.
Today, go find a blog article you’ve written that asks the reader to take action of some sort, whether it’s make an appointment, or change a health behavior.
- Did you give a reason?
- Is the reason evidence based?
- Is the reason given in terms that matter to the reader?
Edit your article until you can answer yes to all three questions, because you’ll get better results when you do.
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