Viewpoint: Is your marketing message 'made to stick'?

April 23, 2010

In order to successfully promote your practice, your marketing message must be crystal-clear.

They knew it was important for their message to have both specificity and clarity in order to have a true impact on people's behavior. They needed to home in on the behaviors they really wanted to change, since a message to "eat healthier" would be too vague to positively influence people's behavior.

Eventually, they decided to focus on a very specific part of the typical American diet: milk, which is the greatest source of saturated fat in many Americans' diets. Booth-Butterfield and Reger crunched some numbers and realized that if people traded out whole milk for skim or 1 percent milk, most of them would be consuming the USDA-recommended amount of saturated fat.

The campaign resulted in a dramatic increase in the amount of low-fat milk purchased in the two targeted communities. Prior to the campaign, only about 18 percent of the milk purchased in the area was low-fat. Immediately following the campaign, that number rose to 41 percent, and it remained at 35 percent six months later.

According to the Heath brothers: "If you want people to change, you must provide crystal-clear direction."

Likewise, in order to successfully promote your practice, your marketing message also must be crystal clear. The Heaths explore that concept in Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, the (also best-selling) book they published prior to Switch. In Made to Stick, the authors say that ideas that are unforgettable should be simple and contain an element of unexpectedness. They need to be concrete and credible, they should evoke emotion, and they should be communicated through stories (such as the story in Switch that the West Virginia health researchers told consumers).

In our feature on practice promotion, "Marketing ideas that stick," that begins, we talked to doctors and business consultants about the marketing messages and strategies that have worked for them-from newspapers to new media. We hope those shared experiences will help you make your marketing messages unforgettable, too.

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