When consumers are choosing a health care provider or facility, there are almost as many options as words in the dictionary. While insurance coverage
remains the biggest influence on consumers' health care decisions, a 2009 Consumer Health Care Survey conducted by The Roberts Group showed that word
choice in health care marketing materials also can have a measurable impact on consumers.
Imagine an ad for a hospital with the following tagline: "Treatment. Communication. Compassion." Are you imagining an ad and a hospital that resonates
with consumers? According to the survey, it would, as each of these three words has an overwhelmingly positive connotation among respondents. In fact,
all four age groups from the survey ranked them as the three words that resonate most as they relate to a health care facility. Other top words
included "education," "accountability" and "technology," which are all qualities that consumers are seeking in health care.
Now, imagine a second ad, this time for an assisted living facility, with copy that begins: "The region's only medical home for …" How would
consumers receive this ad? According to the survey, not well. Along with the word "alone," "only" and "medical home" were ranked by respondents from
all four age groups as the health care words that resonate the least. Other words that scored poorly were "first" and "robotic," which are qualities
that many consumers say are meaningless or lacking in resonance.
What this means for the health care industry—and health care marketers—is that we must pay attention to the words in our ads, direct mail, and other
marketing materials and take care to include words that resonate with consumers and avoid those words that do not. Of course, the images in our ads,
the type of media and the wants and needs of each consumer, among other factors, all play a part in how effective any given campaign will be. But as
the survey shows, we should not forget the powerful influence words can have on the attitudes and behavior of our consumers, especially when they are
making a decision as important as which health care provider to use.
The Roberts Group survey also revealed several other key insights into the minds of the health care consumer that should be relevant to health care
organizations and marketers. In addition to word choice, the survey collected information from consumers about which types of health care advertising
they find most and least effective, with television and direct mail both scoring high. The survey also gained insight into which creative concepts are
the most effective (testimonial, physician and technology) and which characteristics have the most influence (expertise and reputation). The results
provide organizations and marketers with a wide range of marketing options that will lead to better campaigns, as well as more—and more
Just as consumers have choices in health care providers and facilities, those health care providers and facilities also have choices—some better than
others—for effectively reaching those consumers. From words to media, it is important for health care professionals to make the right marketing choices,
based on sound market research, which will resonate with our target audience.
This article originally appeared on
The Roberts Group blog.