Sunday, October 4, 2015

Can providers succeed with the right words?

Words are important, and that is something that I can think we can all agree. How a provider uses words not only in the content but contextually, can greatly influence a positive or negative perception of the brand.

Words can drive an individual to take action, become motivated, inspire and in some cases by the contextual environment communicated by the words become life-changing. And we all know that words can unintentionally by use and connotation reach a pretty high giggle factor, raising more questions than answers. In some case, words conveying a position on a topic become oxymoronic resulting in a negative brand image.

With that in mind, how would you rate providers in the use of words?

An important question as I see more each day of providers and vendors using words that don’t say anything.  Lots of squiggles on a page intended to convey information but essentially say the same thing over and over again.  I increasingly see the use of jargon to cover up any real meaning. 

Cleaver and creative marketing communications are needed to cover positions and information in a way that hopefully motivates the reader in some way. But the real question at hand is what do they convey? What do those words convey in reaction and meaning?  Do they raise more questions than what they were intended to answer?   

Words matter.

A hospital states in an advertisement that we are patient-centered, and it’s all about you. The question then becomes what does the healthcare consumer think or accept that statement?  Is a consumers position I get it because everyone else makes that statement, but I don’t know means? Or maybe the healthcare consumer says wait a minute, you are a hospital that provided care to me. Are you saying that wasn’t the case last time I received treatment?  You are a hospital that provided care to me; did the hospital raise the question unintentionally that it hasn’t been about me?

Is patient-centered an oxymoron based on the person's experience?

Words matter.

Let us consider the health system that opens a new physician and diagnostic center for example. The only thing one reads about in the press, hears in radio interviews with leadership, sees in the ad are words defining the building as ever so convenient and patient friendly. What a great environment in their view but no words about the quality of care, services or price.  What words conveyed the reason I should go there to seek medical care because it is a nicely designed building?  

Observation. Hospitals are still so brick and mortar oriented to solve problems when the market is moving in a very different direction.

Words matter.

These are just a couple of examples.  But we all see that on a daily basis, whether it’s a product manager thinking they are creative writers or senior leadership thinking that meaningless language and jargon will win the day and build the brand.

Words do matter and the contextual use matters.

Words and their meanings matter, especially in a market that is becoming retail in nature and filled with healthcare consumer choice.

Maybe at some point, providers will begin to understand that words matter and begin to start using the right words, to convey the right message, at the right time.  Could this very well become a version of the Triple AIM for marketing professionals?

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

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