We were talking the other day about how doctors should approach online reviews, not as critiques, but as stories that patients tell as a way to share their aesthetic experiences.
In fact, doctors should do more than just listen to those stories — they should tell their own. In an age where traditional marketing messages are lost in the media clamor and hard-sell sales pitches turn people off, your practice website can be a great outlet for the sort of storytelling that gets, and holds, people’s attention.
Storytelling is a timeless way to personalize a company and build word of mouth, says David Murton. Consumers naturally want to feel connected to the businesses they buy from and evolve from a transactional to a more emotional relationship.
That’s especially true in health care and, particularly so in aesthetics, where almost every purchase decision has an emotional component. With factual information available from hundreds of sources, aesthetic consumers are looking for doctors who understand their needs and desires.
Consumers no longer want to be sold to with fancy marketing ads or messages, says Maureen Ezekwugo, vice president of the doctor community at RealSelf. Instead, they want to connect to real people and real doctors who care about their journeys and their outcome.
And authentic stories — i.e., honest, personal, non-promotional — can help create those connections far better than generic insights, dry statistics and canned marketing copy. Shared via social media, they can also serve as a means of reputation management, helping to shape the online conversation about you and your practice.
As Lonnie Hirsch and Stewart Gandolf of Healthcare Success Strategies write:
Storytelling in healthcare is a powerful and effective tool for doctors, administrators, staff members and patients. It’s effective communications that enriches and engages both patients and providers. And it’s a means to enhance your medical marketing message and produce a positive patient experience.
1. Make it personal
As a doctor, you could have chosen to pursue any discipline. Why aesthetics, what do you enjoy about it, who are the members of your team and how do they contribute to the success of your practice? Aesthetic consumers want to know who they’re entrusting their bodies, faces and lives to and creating content that answers such questions can help humanize the person behind the credentials.
2. Accentuate the positive
While patient privacy is, of course, sacrosanct, stories from satisfied patients are essentially proxies for your own professional narrative. If you have permission to share those stories on your practice website, they can be powerful testimonials. If not, more generalized versions with no identifying personal details can provide practical information with a human touch.
3. Keep it real
The key word is “authenticity”. As Ezekwugo says, “Consumers love to interact with real people, not scripted marketing drones. As they get to know your style through your online communications they’ll start to ‘connect’ and gain trust with your expertise even before they meet you.” You’ll also stand out from all those other doctors who are still promoting their practices in increasingly unproductive, out-of-date ways.