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Help Your Message to Break Through - Take Your Prospect to the Couch.

As a longtime healthcare marketer, I am a firm believer that good persona development is extremely helpful (and needed) when speaking to your broad target audience. However, as a psych major with a deep interest in what motivates a person's action, I believe that once you pinpoint a specific prospect to communicate with, you must dig deeper and refine your communication by acknowledging three essential points. First, you must accept the fact that every practice is managed differently. There are many dynamics that make one Ortho practice, for example, different from another. Even the floor plan can change how information flows throughout an office. Second, the practice manager's personality will directly affect how you interact with that individual. Everyone absorbs information differently. Additionally, their personality (talkative vs. straight to business) should help you craft how you start your introduction. Third, every practice manager defines their greatest challenge differently (what one defines as a problem may not be the case for another). Therefore, if you don't take the time to understand what an individual perceives as their foundational or base challenge, your message and solution may fall on deaf ears.

The Remedy

The remedy is for your marketing and sales team to work together and take the prospect to the proverbial couch. In some cases, sales can be the psychologist asking the right questions and sharing the feedback to marketing. In other cases, marketing plays the role of the psychologist via a survey or outreach and shares the results with sales. In either scenario, Marketing is technically the pad that absorbs the notes and uses that data to create the appropriate communication strategy. If the idea of behaving like a psychotherapist seems a little daunting, here's a trick that will help – use Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as your guide.

Abraham Maslow was a prominent social psychologist in the early twentieth century. He focused less on human neurosis and more on the components that drive us to be superior. He developed a pyramid of five needs - each supported by the other ranging from the simplest (aka, physiological) to self-actualization (the ultimate goal). The belief is that if someone's basic needs are not being fulfilled, they cannot concentrate on anything else, limiting their ability to reach self-actualization. For example, if an individual lacks the ability to find food or they are consistently worried about their food source, buying a $400,000 house is the last thing you want to discuss with this person. They only want to know how they can get a steady source of food. If you can help them with that problem, they are all ears!

Think Like a Psychologist

Thinking like a psychologist will allow you to focus on your target's most pressing and fundamental need to better align your message in a way that positively affects their work life. The psychologist mindset will also help you better identify the nuances that make each site unique. Asking open-ended questions will help you expose the deep-seated issues they are facing and that hinder their ability to think about new ideas or solutions.

The Doctor's in the House; Four ways to get to the answers you need:

1. Create short surveys that will gather information unique to a particular site.

2. Talk to the front desk personnel, ask them for their insight, and get their take on what's important and the manager's personality.

3. Connect with targets you have talked to in the recent past and ask them if they can share their top three challenges – tell them that you are trying to better understand what's happening in their space.

4. Write up an overview of your perception of their site (practices in general) and ask them for their feedback.

With your new, specific information in your toolbelt, you can now better position your solution in a manner that supports change or facilitates action that can save time in one area while potentially creating the ability to either address or provide a path to a better work-life future. Ultimately your message should address how you can directly or indirectly touch on what your target perceives as their immediate basic problems. If your solution doesn't directly solve their fundamental problem, consider partnering with one that can and present your message accordingly. You increase your probability that your message will get their attention and the possibility to start moving up the pyramid of needs.

So, pull out your imaginary therapy couch, a pad, and your best Sigmund Freud impression and start asking the questions that will help you get a better picture of their hierarchy business of needs. What you learn will help you strategically plan and develop messaging that will be music to their ears.


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