Image by Daniel Frank
There’s a huge demand for healthcare-related content.
One in every 20 Google searches is for health-related information. 62% of smartphone users have also used their phones to look up health-related information.
If you’re a marketer working in the healthcare industry, or a provider of healthcare services, you should certainly tap into this massive demand. Developing and sharing valuable healthcare content can help you get found on search engines and boost your brand awareness.
But first, you need to be aware of the things you can and cannot include in your marketing collateral. Due to strict healthcare regulations, some marketing practices that are popular in other industries are not allowed in healthcare marketing.
In Singapore, the Singapore Medical Council has a set of guidelines that detail the dos and don’ts of healthcare marketing. Based on these official guidelines, we’ve identified five potential areas for mistakes in your healthcare content marketing:
No Unduly Persuasive Claims
“You are not allowed to advertise in a manner that seeks to excessively persuade patients beyond logic and reason (unduly persuasive)”
Emotions often play a big part in marketing. For example, many classy brands appeal to people’s desire for status. Owning an Apple product shows that you are cool, while carrying a Hermes bag shows that you have cash to splash.
Beware of playing on emotions in your healthcare content marketing! Exaggerations and fear-mongering are no-nos. Even statements that subtly stoke emotions, like “be safe not sorry” and “do not delay” may possibly not be allowed.
The key is to not make claims that are unsupported by facts and evidence.
Choosing a medical service involves many important considerations, like the individual’s unique medical history or the needs of others. Emotions might cloud people’s rational decision making about their health.
No Laudatory Statements
“Subjective praise and compliments about you or your services have no place in medical advertising.”
It’s common to see glowing customer testimonials and endorsements used in marketing collaterals. These can be powerful trust signals; people might be swayed into buying when they see that others like them have positive experiences.
But testimonials and endorsements, even if true, should be avoided in healthcare content marketing. That’s because testimonials and endorsements often reflect individual experiences.
When it comes to medical treatments, different people might experience different results because of a wide range of factors. These include age, gender, ethnicity, diet, and medical history. What works wonderfully for one patient might not be as effective for another.
No Financial Inducements
“You are not to lure patients through time-limited offers, tie-ups with unrelated commercial entities (such as credit card companies), or offering gifts or other material incentives to persuade them to take up your services.”
At any time of the year, there’re various festive promotions, clearance sales, and limited offer promotions going on. We Singaporeans love good deals, don’t we?
Such commercial activities are not allowed in healthcare content marketing due to various ethical concerns.
For one, a good deal may not always be better for a patient. People normally choose healthcare providers based on a variety of factors, such as trust, location, and comfort. Seeking the “best deal” may encourage patients to doctor-hop, which disrupts continuity of care.
No Glitz and Glamour
“It is also not appropriate for you to advertise using elements involving leisure activities, glitz, glamour, style, famous locations, association with celebrities and the entertainment or fashion world.”
Retail, fashion, and travel are some industries that use glamour in their advertising. People are encouraged to try a product when they see that it works for their favourite stars or when it leads them closer to their dream lifestyles.
Again, such tactics may be unduly persuasive. Patients who are dazzled by the prospect of glamorous results might blindly pressure their doctors for medical treatments that are unsuitable or unnecessary.
Be Careful When Using Case Studies
“(The use of case studies) ought not to exaggerate the quality of your services or to mislead the public into thinking you are making a claim or guarantee of expected results.”
Case studies are powerful marketing tools that show prospective customers what kind of experiences other customers have had with your products, in order to convince them to work with you.
You can use case studies in your healthcare content marketing, but you need to ensure that you do not exaggerate the quality of your services or guarantee results (remember the first two rules above?)
Instead, use your case studies to educate patients, such as by explaining how a medical treatment works.
The same principle also applies to images, devices, models, or other props used to illustrate the healthcare services you provide.
Healthcare Content Marketing Need Not be Hard (or Boring)
Image by skeeze
Don’t be daunted by the regulations on healthcare content marketing!
Just remember: stick to the facts. Don’t mislead. Use a neutral tone in your marketing collateral. Be helpful and educate your patients on their options.
Healthcare content marketing need not be boring either! Get inspired by these examples of healthcare providers who rocked their content marketing and won their patients’ trust. The secret is to portray yourself as a knowledgeable and caring provider that is human, too.
Need help to improve how you market your healthcare practice online? We’ve got plenty of experiences, so give us a shoutout here.
(Contributed by Wan Ying Yi)