Is There Room For Persuasion in Attracting Patients?

Have you ever thought of how marketing truly works? How medical practices ensure that the right patients find them? The six principles of persuasion are a theory rooted in phycology that successful marketing strategies use as a foundation to increase their chances of a high return on investment for their efforts. Most private practice offices don’t have the luxury of a marketing team supplied by a healthcare system and have to rely on their own efforts to excel in the field. Many physicians tend to depend on tried-and-true approaches to gaining patients. They count on referrals, emergency room call, walk-ins, and insurance affiliations to reach patients. However, except for seeking a doctor for elective procedures, most patients look for a physician towards the end stages of their customer decision process. At these points, patients need the services and sign up to see the referred doctors with less research. An alternative approach can be to actively engage with potential patients at all the stages of the customer journey and use the power of persuasion to build relationships with your target patient market. This will put a physician in the running to be selected and trusted when the patient seeks services. Below is a breakdown of the six principles of persuasion and how they can apply to a medical practice.

The Six Principles of Persuasion

  1. Consistency is referred to as continuously engaging with your target market. For instance, regularly posting to your practice’s social networks increases your followers’ chances to engage with your content. Let say you are a pediatrician and launch a social campaign providing new mothers with daily tips on caring for a newborn. The mothers will begin following your account and engaging with your content when it appears in their feed. The released dopamine, with every engagement, will form a habit leading to loyalty.
  2. Reciprocity is when you give your audience something, they will provide you with something in return. For example, the pediatrician mentioned above is giving new mothers content they value via social media. In return, the mothers eventually will like the accounts posts, re-share specific images, and tag the doctor’s account, or give word of mouth referrals to follow the account. This leads to increased brand awareness and reach for the pediatrician.
  3. Authority refers to credibility. All information published for marketing purposes by any brand, let alone a medical practice should be trustworthy. But this credibility also pertains to the visuals used in all marketing communications. All content should look professional and truthful. If the same pediatrician posts an out of focus picture of a baby with a caption that is not supported by scientific evidence, followers could question if they are a good doctor.
  4. Social Proof is when there is proof of demand for a product or service. People are more likely to use something if others are using it. Following the same pediatrician, if a social network follower is considering using them as their child’s PCP, they will likely look at patient reviews before making their first appointment. Having a fair amount of positive patient testimonials will give the doctor a favorable and trusted reputation.
  5. Liking refers to creating content that your audience resonates with and can connect to. All images and information should be tailored to your target audience and use voice and tone that match the intended followers’ preferences. For the social account mentioned, having images of happy babies and captions written in a nurturing style with language that isn’t too technical would be beneficial.
  6. Scarcity would be limited access to the product or service. Keeping with the same example, the doctor taking on a limited amount of new patients would show that their services are in demand. If their appointment schedules were consistently open, a parent could perceive that not many parents trusted their healthcare services.

Next Steps

By building a marketing strategy around the six principles of persuasion, a medical practice can open up their pool of potential patients to a larger number of people as they can create broader awareness for their services. Relationships can also be formed and nurtured with likely patients, so when the time comes to select a physician, you can be top of mind.

If you haven’t yet read my last post on the zones of social media marketing