I recently read an article questioning the importance of patient stories in healthcare marketing. The author made a vague claim that healthcare content “seems to be geared to specific patient experiences” rather than “provide readers with factual information on health-related topics” to reach target audiences. The author argued that, in participating in the latter, the content and its source become trustworthy.
As someone who writes exclusively for the healthcare industry, I heartily (and politely) disagree.
To start my little rebuttal, I would like to first acknowledge the points in the article in which I did agree:
Provide Factual Information on Health-Related Topics and Become a Trusted Source
I feel that this sort of goes without saying. Of course, being an individual’s main source of health information is the goal of any practice or medical company’s website and marketing materials.
Offer Tips and Advice on Common Issues
Correct. From tips on how to avoid back pain to lists of healthy holiday foods to indulge in, we have learned that offering suggestions to improve one’s health is an awesome way to earn the trust of the masses (and keep their attention).
Present the Latest Research and Innovation
No argument here. Keeping up on the latest trends in the industry is important and one of the easiest ways to become the aforementioned “trusted source.” As a healthcare marketing agency, we have found that adding current information to a website and to social media posts helps gain ground and increase traffic in the Internet world.
Now, onto what I, on a professional level, did not agree with:
Content Seems to Be Geared to Specific Patient Experiences
In my experience, this could not be further from the truth. I predominately write factual content for all of my healthcare clients. The challenge becomes what to do with those hard, dry medical facts that will get readers to engage with the content. To overcome this boundary, we have found that one of the best ways to break up medical content is to give it a personal touch through patient stories and testimonials.
Think about it: How many times have you read a person of interest story in a magazine, newspaper or even on Facebook? Why do so many of them exist in mainstream media?
Because people crave a good story and a human connection.
You need to craft healthcare content with stories like these. Nothing resonates better with people (especially if they’ve suffered from a particular condition) than a true story about bounding down the road of hardship and ending with successfully treating a condition. Anecdotes can be a powerful tool to compliment the facts people are looking to trust in.
How much more personal can healthcare get, especially if someone is searching for a physician for them and/or a family member? Healthcare needs a voice for people to trust in, as well.
Content Marketing Isn’t About Selling—It’s About Making a Connection With Your Audience and Giving Them the Information They Need to Help Them See You as a Trusted Source of Information. It’s Not About Your Healthcare Organization, It’s About the Reader.
Where to even begin.
Well, let’s start with this: I concede to the fact that making a connection with the audience to get them to trust you isn’t wrong, and the experience is ultimately about the reader.
That said, stating that content marketing isn’t about selling is like saying rain has nothing to do with getting wet. It’s marketing. Marketing, by definition and pure nature, is about selling something to someone.
With healthcare, you’re selling services. Marketing those services is key to successful traffic and to, ultimately, get the patients coming in. It’s not about what you’re doing—it’s about how you’re doing it. True marketing is selling someone something without them even realizing it. Patient stories aid in that goal by selling the reader through the insightful experience of others. It should never be discounted or considered excessive. And just because it’s a patient “story” doesn’t mean it isn’t factual.