What Patients Need from Your
Marketing Materials

September 15, 2016

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve talked about how direct-to-patient marketing helps medical device and pharmaceutical companies. Last week, I discussed the differences between marketing to physicians and marketing to patients. However, there is a lot more to direct-to-patient marketing than just understanding the differences from physician marketing. To successfully connect with patients, your company needs to understand what patients are actually looking for.

Direct-to-patient marketing doesn’t necessarily mean that your company is just running ads directed at patients to sell your product. While that may be part of your strategy, there are other--potentially more effective--ways to reach patients. In many cases, patients are just looking for information--a solution to their health problems. The key is becoming that source of information for patients.

These are some pointers on keeping your direct-to-patient marketing content patient-friendly.

1. Avoid medical jargon.

If you want to connect with patients, you have to speak their language. Remember, the average patient didn’t go to medical school and will probably be unfamiliar with many medical terms. That isn’t to say that they are unintelligent--they just don’t need to know medical terminology because they don’t use it in their everyday lives.

While it may be necessary to include certain medical terms, it’s important to explain everything so that patients aren’t having to look elsewhere to understand your message. The simpler you keep it, the more likely you are to have patients understand. It may also be helpful to incorporate images and video whenever possible (see #4) to better illustrate your points, rather than simply relying on text to help patients understand.

2. Show patients the “after.”

Patients are looking for different things in your content than doctors are. While they may still be interested in how your device or medication works, what they are really interested in is what happens after they use your product. The “after” is often the most important part of direct-to-patient marketing. Patients want a glimpse of what life will be like after undergoing treatment.

This is also a good way to incorporate imagery and video. Patients are more likely to react to imagery than content in this case. You can tell patients how your product will help, but it has a much greater impact if you can show them.

3. Provide testimonials.

Testimonials are a great way to reassure patients that your product can help them. Showing patients the “after” in your content and imagery is certainly helpful, but being able to provide comments from actual patients takes it a step further and helps to validate your claims. People can identify with stories from real patients, and may find that some of the shared patient experiences mirror their own.

These types of stories can go a long way when a patient is deciding on treatment. Medical problems can be frustrating and stressful, especially if patients have tried other solutions with no success. Testimonials reassure patients by showing them that other patients have had positive experiences.

4. Use a mix of images, video, and text.

People are getting used to digesting content quickly, especially as more and more people use mobile devices to look up information. If your direct-to-patient marketing materials are too text-heavy, patients may lose interest. It’s better to break up your content with imagery and videos to make it easier for patients to quickly gain an understanding about your product.

Short, informative videos are one way to add some variety to your marketing content. Infographics can also be helpful in getting your point across in an easily-digestible, visually appealing way. Think of patients scrolling through your content on a mobile device--you don’t want to just give them a wall of text. Give them content that will keep them engaged.

5. Be educational.

When patients view your marketing materials, particularly as they are researching their options, they are primarily looking for informative content. They aren’t looking to be “sold” to. They just want to know the facts about your product and how it could potentially help them. If you can also provide more information about the conditions treated with your product, that is even better. That information could include an overview of the condition, treatment processes, and tips on managing the condition and staying healthy.

This type of content helps in two ways. First, it shows patients that your company is knowledgeable about the condition. Second, it shows that your primary concern is helping patients get better, rather than just selling more devices/medications, and you want to connect with the patients that can actually benefit from your device/medication.

When you are creating your direct-to-patient marketing materials, put yourself in the patient’s shoes. If you were a patient, what questions would you have? What type of information would you want to see? Remember, medical problems are often quite stressful for patients. This is your chance to alleviate some of that worry.

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