Successful patient advertising requires more than a novel product, ample budget and strategic placement. It requires consumer insights and creative skills to engage, inform and inspire audiences to take action.
Whether you’re creating a patient flier, study website or a full-fledged recruitment campaign, the following pointers should help distinguish your message amid the clamor of a crowded marketplace.
1. Target your message – Get to know your audience and tailor your marketing message accordingly. Your internal team or patient recruitment provider should be able to customize content and designs based on market segmentation. This can be done in many ways, but the most common types are 1) geographic, based on location; 2) demographic, based on measurable statistics, such as age, race or gender; and 3) psychographic, based on lifestyle.
2. Go light on graphics – Interesting imagery is a great way to hook your audience, and designs can artistically convey important messages, but pretty pictures can’t make up for lack of substance. So avoid gratuitous graphics to free up white space – it actually helps readers connect with the content and distinguishes your call-to-action.
3. Get to the point – In today’s wired world with myriad media channels vying for people’s attention, you have only seconds to get your marketing message across. So cut the filler, state the facts, and add a little flavor to keep audiences engaged. Unless they’re reading for education or entertainment, people like their information in bite-size morsels.
4. Keep it simple – Find alternatives for complex words, medical jargon, abbreviations and acronyms. When no alternatives are available, spell out complex terms and abbreviations phonetically and give clear definitions. Focus on a few key concepts and structure content logically – from the general to the specific.
5. Maintain an adult perspective – Regulations require that patient materials be written on an average 6th to 8th-grade level. But don’t make assumptions about people with rudimentary reading skills. Unless you’re targeting your message to children or teens, talk like a grown-up. Otherwise you may unintentionally turn off your audience.
6. Inform; don’t alarm – We’ve all seen the chilling advertisements featuring former smokers in various stages of cancer and lung disease. The images play on many of our deepest fears, and that’s just what marketers want. Shockvertisements are designed to scare, startle or disgust audiences enough to take action. But this strategy is not generally accepted in clinical trial advertising. Provocative content indicating that patients are at risk of illness, injury or death unless they enroll in a clinical trial implies efficacy. Create a sense of urgency, but tow the line.
7. Include a call-to-action – The call-to-action (CTA) is the most important part of your marketing message, because it spurs your audience to take the next step. That could mean calling a toll-free number or site office, visiting your study website, or taking a survey to determine pre-eligibility for study participation. Only one CTA is recommended for simplicity’s sake. Too many may confuse your audience and make them work harder to decide which action to take. If you must have multiple CTAs, include no more three and present them in order of importance.
Stay tuned for more tips and techniques for patient advertising in upcoming blog posts.