In part one of this three-part storytelling series we talked about how literally every action you take plays a role in the story you’re telling your patients. What you do matters — even little stuff like saying thank you, responding to emails, and having a friendly face or voice to greet your patients can send a powerful message. And that’s a message you don’t want your patients to interpret on their own!
But your actions are only one part of the equation. To tell a complete story you also have to think about what your patients see when you’re not there. That’s right – we’re talking about branding.
It’s the website. It’s the brochure. It’s the business card. It’s the content of your blog, emails and texts. In one single word, it’s your identity. Good stuff, huh? Let’s talk about how you can use these branding elements to breathe life into your story and convey the real message of DPC.
Throughout all the materials mentioned above (website, brochure, business card, content, etc.) it’s important to have one underlying theme peeking through. Is it that you’re available 24/7? Is it that you always put your patients first? Do you have a tagline you can weave in? When patients see the same message on various materials it does a couple good things: it tells them you’re put-together, and it engrains your message into their heads. Rather than just another doctor’s office, they come to identify you as the people who provide care.
So in a nutshell, what you’re trying to avoid here is sending mixed messages. If there was only one thing you could tell your patients, what would it be? Now make sure that comes across in each piece.
Visual Storytelling: Design
Small design elements can translate really well across different pieces — and go a long way toward telling a cohesive story. Let’s start with your logo. Having a logo is the simplest way to solidify your identity – it can literally be plastered on everything you own! It will grow to become your practice’s recognizable mark – identifiable from a billboard while driving down the highway, in passing when someone stumbles upon your brochure, and wearable on clothing.
So invest in your logo. Love it. Want to plaster it on everything. (Did you know Sticker Mule can make you transfer stickers for things like your laptop, tablet or mug?)
There are other design elements to consider here, too. Think colors. Think patterns. Think backgrounds. Think consistency. Consistency should be your best friend while you’re developing your branding strategy. That doesn’t mean everything has to be the exact same — how boring! But you should probably put your logo on everything. And use the same color scheme throughout your materials. And use the same headline style from piece to piece. (Meaning if your headlines are sentence fragments by design on your website, make it so in your brochure, too. Different words, same style. Get it?)
Emotions are Powerful
Patients want to feel like they belong. They want to feel like they’re you’re only priority. They want to feel at home and comfortable in your care. They want to be heard.
That last one’s a biggie. If they feel like you’re listening to them, really hearing what they’re saying, it’ll be difficult for you to do any wrong.
So appeal to their emotions in your website content. Use feelings and expressions to get your point across. Tell them what they want to hear. Heck, that won’t be hard — Direct Care puts all those phrases right in your lap.
- Same day scheduling: “Don’t suffer through waiting rooms full of sick people.”
- Direct access to your physician: “Your physician, on your schedule.”
- Home visits: “We provide care where you’re most comfortable, whether that’s our place or yours.”
- Wholesale prices: “We pass our savings to you, getting you the best deals we can get our hands on.”
Don’t Forget Your Call to Action
This content-related phrase can be the difference between someone putting your brochure down, or continuing on to your website to sign up as a patient. You may know what you want them to do but you must, absolutely must, be explicit about it.
Your call to action can be different for each piece and in fact different mediums are better for different things anyway. For example, your business card is to provide information – but you ultimately want them to contact you. Your brochure is an explanation of what you’re all about, but you really want them to visit your website. And your website is an all-inclusive virtual home for your practice, but at the end of the day you hope beyond hope they sign up to be your patient.
Don’t assume your patients know what to do. Like all consumers, they want to be guided toward the right decision. Make it easy for them by laying out the next step at every turn.
The Social Media Aspect
These days you can’t afford to not talk about social media. Twitter and Facebook are the most widely used forms of conventional social media used by healthcare providers, but there’s a right and a wrong way to do it. Here are the Dos:
- Use images! If you have a designer you work with, have them whip up an image that has a quote on it. Then share it on your page, perhaps with a short comment about it. People love to look at stuff, and it’s less work if they can digest your message super quick.
- Tag it! Hashtags are how campaigns are spread and tracked via social media. Plus it gives your patients something to use in their own posts aside from tagging you directly. It can be as simple as your clinic name. Examples: #AtlasMD #IAmDirectCare #DPC #DirectCare
- Share stories! People love testimonials. We’ve found this especially true when someone is saved a bunch of money. For example, without DPC their medication costs $80, but we can get it for $4. Seriously, you run into those situations all the time and your patients might don’t even realize that saving them money is a huge part of what you offer.
- Share blog articles! When done in moderate frequency, this can prove to your patients that you’re up to speed on your industry, and that you don’t think you know it all. Continuing education even applies to doctors, right?! Plus, since they trust you, they’ll read what you’re sharing because, well, it’s you sharing it. Patient education happening at the same time! Bam.
Whatever you do, though, do NOT do these things on social media.
- Vent about a patient. Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past ten years, you know that things can go viral online. And when bad things go viral it’s devastating to a company’s reputation. Patient’s don’t take kindly to being bashed by the people they’re supposed to trust. So even if you think no patients are following you, don’t. Just don’t.
- Swear. You’re a professional. Act like it.
- Post Direct Messages on your public stream. Your patient reached out to you in private for a reason. Just because you don’t eat sleep and breathe HIPAA doesn’t mean you can totally disregard the privacy of your patients. If you want to post something they’ve said, ask them first. Let them know you’d like to share their story or viewpoint on Direct Care. Shows respect. Simple as that.
- Link to inappropriate content. Again, you’re a professional. Use your personal page if you absolutely must, but don’t associate your practice with the crude stuff.
So there you have it. Follow these pointers and you’ll wind up with collateral that speaks a consistent message, a practice that spreads its message even behind the scenes, and most importantly, an identity you’re proud of. Stay tuned for part three of this series, which connects storytelling with Direct Care’s underlying goals and messages.