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Opinion: healthcare marketing still requires teaching, not selling

Why teaching and informing the healthcare consumer is important

"You know, I can put you in that new knee for just $89.99 per month for the next 60 months with as little as $1999 down at signing.”

Did that used car sales pitch just make you cringe?

In fact, does the idea of selling in healthcare actually turn your stomach a little?

It does mine. And it’s certainly not the typical approach one sees in healthcare marketing. (Thankfully.)

However, it’s also true that consumerism in healthcare is here. Thanks to almost every drug commercial on air today, Americans are now more aware than ever that we need to “ask our doctors” and make informed decisions.

We are being told we have choices to make and have many options to consider. But that doesn’t mean, as healthcare marketers, we need to resort to hard-selling to attract or keep patients. In fact, it means quite the opposite.

We must continue to teach. To inform. To lay out the information about our brands clearly and concisely. Slow and steady. And then, we need to let the consumer compare, contrast and decide.

Don’t let increasing competition change your tune

Taking an educational approach to healthcare marketing is nothing new, but it may be more important now than ever.

As more competitors enter into the traditional healthcare system’s space, and as new services and technologies make accessing health and wellness solutions easier, the temptation may be to “pitch” our worth, to “sell” our differences. But don’t do it.

Continue to provide information about your brand, service lines, physicians, community impact and the like … but always do it in a true, transparent and helpful way. There may be more competitors in the set for consumers to take into consideration, but establishing credibility and patient trust still wins the day in the world of healthcare marketing.

Innovation requires careful study before adoption

Furthermore, new healthcare products and services (e.g. technologies, procedures, treatment options, etc.) are just that: “new.” They need to be explained and understood before they are valued and sought after.

It’s your job (and ours) to do this kind of teaching in your marketing – to treat your patient like smart consumers who are simply looking to get a little smarter. Show that you are on their side by looking at things from their point of view and teaching them what you know – without ever talking down to them, or just as problematic, talking over them.

The Power of Teaching

This teaching approach is literally a powerful one because:

a.) you are speaking from a position of authority, and

b.) you are giving away helpful, sometimes comparative information freely and without fear. This is what confident experts do versus new players who must resort to less credible tactics.

Think about it. Where you see teaching in healthcare marketing, you see success. Chances are, it was created by a leading expert who was more than willing to fairly compare their solutions to others in the marketplace without resorting to Professor Hill-like tactics.

So, will educational healthcare marketing guarantee every “sale” in the short-term? No. Consumers will always try new options or be fooled by a clever pitch. But, the steady drumbeat of a strong brand will always win its fair share of business. And in the long run, you will never have compromised your position as a trusted leader in your community.


Ward Alles is the President and Brand Consultant at Core Health.

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