Who do you think you are talking to?

 February 25, 2015

Back to the basics: Health Care Marketing Revisited

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Who do you think you are talking to?

Lots of marketing communications messages are wasted. Along with all the time and money that went into putting them out there.

And among the most common causes of waste is talking to the wrong people.

It seems simple. The people who use the product or service you’re selling are the ones you should sell it to.

But that’s not always the case.

“Buying decisions,” for want of a better label, are often complex. Especially in a field like health care when the stakes can be high. Anxiety can get in the way of action. Financial considerations can play a role. Advice is often sought from several sources and influence often comes from unexpected places.

And the one who most affects the “buying decision” may not be the person who needs the service.

There’s a simple rule in health care that the female in a household is responsible for around 80 percent of health-care decisions. That makes sense, of course, when those needing care are young children. But it’s also true, much of the time, for adult children. For the man of the house. Even for aging parents. Women also influence other women—friends, neighbors, relatives—even strangers in line at the supermarket.

So just because you’re selling, say, heart attack prevention, which skews heavily toward men of a certain age, that doesn’t mean you ought to be talking to men in your marketing communications messages. In most cases, it will be that man’s wife or mother or significant other who will poke, prod, and persuade a reluctant prospect to seek care.

But it’s not always women, all the time. And you can’t afford to ignore influential others. Determining who to talk to should be a considered decision, based on knowledge gained from experience, from research, from understanding.

Otherwise, your messages will be like the proverbial tree falling in an empty forest—even if it does make a sound, no one will hear it.


Next time: What are you saying?

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