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How Storytelling Applies to Medical Practice Marketing

May 25, 2017

Many different types of businesses use storytelling in their marketing since stories resonate with people so strongly. People can identify with stories, allowing them to see how a particular product or service might help them.

Storytelling is common in medical device and pharma marketing, but it can also be applied to the medical practices that you work with. Storytelling can help practices establish a greater connection with patients. Focusing on a practice’s specialties and qualifications is great, but putting that into the context of the patient’s healthcare journey can be really powerful.

Patients want to know that a practice is qualified to help, but more than that, they want to be able to envision what the end result of treatment might be like. This is where storytelling is really helpful.

How do you tell the story of patient care at a medical practice? The right imagery, content, and patient stories are critical. Let’s look at how each of these things help with storytelling.

Content

A lot of practice marketing content focuses on physician experience, pathologies, and procedures. While it is important to convey expertise and treatment options to patients, that isn’t usually the primary factor for patients when choosing a practice. Generally speaking, there are probably other practices who offer the same treatment options and level of experience. These factors, while important, are usually not what sets a practice apart.

The problem with a lot of medical practice marketing content is that there is not enough focus on the patient. If you want to effectively tell the story of patient care, patients have to be at the center of content marketing efforts. Patients want to feel that a practice understands what they are going through and will work to make it better.

or example, let’s look at the following two statements. They essentially say the same thing, but convey the information differently.

Option A: “At Anytown Orthopedics, we offer treatment options like hip replacements for arthritis pain.”

Option B: “Hip arthritis can prevent you from participating in your favorite activities. With the right treatment, you can get back to doing the things you love. Our specialists at Anytown Orthopedics are committed to helping you with treatment options like hip replacement surgery.”

Option A gets right to the point, but Option B evokes an emotional appeal. It shows patients that the practice understands what they are going through and will help them achieve the results they want. It helps them understand what they can expect from the practice beyond the treatment itself. That is how to set a practice apart from others. Put patient concerns, wants, and needs in the forefront of marketing content, and you will be able to tell the story of care at the practice.

Patient Testimonials

Patient testimonials lend credibility to a practice’s story. It’s much more impactful when a practice can back up its story with real-life examples. This helps patients visualize the end result of treatment. It’s one thing for a practice to tell patients how they help, but it’s quite another to show them.

If a practice doesn’t have any testimonials, gathering them is usually quite easy. When patients are satisfied with the care they have received and the result of that care, most are more than happy to submit a testimonial if the practice asks.

Practices might consider adding a testimonial submission functionality to their websites to make it easy for patients to submit testimonials and photos. However, it would also be helpful to take quotes and images from testimonials and work them into the content throughout throughout the practice’s website and marketing materials (provided the practice has obtained the proper permissions from patients to do so). These quotes help to reinforce the practice’s story.

Imagery

The imagery in a practice’s marketing materials, including your website, ads, etc., should serve to illustrate the story. To really be effective, images should primarily depict the ideal end result of treatment: happy, healthy patients participating in their favorite activities.

For a sports medicine practice, this might include images of athletes in action during a game. For an orthopedic practice with older patients, imagery might include an older person going on a walk or working in his or her garden. The practice’s target patient base should be able to identify with the imagery because it depicts what they want to achieve with medical treatment.

Patient photos can also be very helpful in telling a practice’s story, particularly photos that depict the “after” result of treatment. Again, the practice will need to obtain patients’ permission to use their photos, but happy patients are often willing to share their results with others. If a patient is willing, video testimonials are also a great way to combine testimonials and imagery.

The most important part of using storytelling is putting the patient at the center of the story. Once you’ve figured out patients’ wants, needs, and concerns, you can effectively tell the story of how a practice can help.

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