If you’re a health care communications professional, you know there are certain words repeatedly used in ad copy and other communications materials that become redundant or overused. Health care marketing has become very competitive and that makes the task challenging. But, if our goal is to make powerful, memorable statements and engage people, then using stale words will negate our desired impact.
Instead, we should be willing to use new phrases. What’s wrong with saying what we mean to say? The truth is, it’s sometimes difficult to not use those “stale, overused” words in health care marketing because we truly believe our services and people are exceptional, compassionate and state-of-the-art. Writing so we sound smart can turn people off. Shouldn’t our goals be to communicate complicated subjects in a way that readers feel comfortable consuming?
So, I posed the question on Facebook to get a fantastic list of words and phrases not to use from WHPRMS members, friends and other people in the communications field. Here’s what they said:
“Peace of Mind. Stress-free/Pain-free. Best-in-class. Turn-key. Unique. Innovative/Best. State-of-the-art. Board certified. And, the worst of them all, Solutions: Why? It makes your copy seem derivative and boring. If you use the same terminology every other medical PR writer relies on, then everything sounds the same and your readers will skip past it. Writing smart, well-worded and carefully researched copy stands out in the pack.” – Phil Haas, copywriter at EPIC Creative
“Continuum, multi-disciplinary, integrated, protocol: So many of the words used in heath care marketing mean nothing to the consumer. You need to talk to them on their level about what is important to them, not one is important to you as a health care provider.” – Sarah Boutelle, WHPRMS member and creative specialist at Mercy Health System
Robin Ballard, graphic designer in the Janesville area echoed Sarah’s comment in the feed saying, “Any word that can be plugged into advertising for Walmart, or Applebee’s and so on should never be applied to health care advertising. Headline words should be unique to the type of company. Everyone overuses quality for example. “Quality produce” and “quality care” People start to glaze over the redundant words since they are seen from supermarkets to healthcare advertising.”
“When you use overused, boring words, the authenticity is lost when instead of seeing your audience as people, you think of them as a business, consumer, prospect, audience or worst of all, target.” – Anonymous health care professional
“Innovative: Everyone says they’re innovative. How do you set yourself apart? By not using the word. If you’re truly innovative, show me. Describe products you developed and give me something real — then I’ll know you’re innovative.” -Ron Reed, real estate professional
“My experience is mostly with home health – for obvious reasons. Phrases and words that make me feel like I’m a “client” or “patient” sometimes imply that I’m just a number ($$$). Treating me like a person is much more appealing. So for marketing, I’d rather see something like “we take care of you like you’re family” than “quality patient care”. Hope that makes sense.” – Sam Harrison, owner/manager at Teddy MD, LLC in Utah
“State of the art, innovative, qualified, expert. Also “outcomes” I don’t want to think of my procedure as one of your outcomes or metrics!” – Haley Gilman, WHPRMS member and communications specialist at Divine Savior Healthcare
“Cutting Edge, High Tech: People already expect their healthcare provider to be at the top of their game. (Not to mention, using the word ‘cut’ generally gives people the hee bee gee bees with regarding to surgery anyway!” – Bridget Thomas, WHPRMS member and lead strategist at Tea Leaves Health
“Unique: If I’m considering to seek care at your hospital or see your specialists, “unique” (like “exclusive”) sounds good but describes nothing. Instead tell me, in concrete terms, how you are better.” – Anonymous blogger
“A multidisciplinary team of experts: Seems every one of our physicians thinks this is a huge selling point to consumers. I’m convinced consumers don’t see the value or even care.” – Christy Bock Pierce, WHPRMS member and communications professional
Wow, some good dialog here. What’s your perspective? What words and/or phrases are turn-offs to you? Share below and join the conversation!