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#34: The Importance of Using Story to Set Your Practice Apart From Others

Podcast 34 The Importance of Storytelling & How to Use It to Set Your Practice Apart From Others

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Information Explored in this Podcast:

The following is just some of the information that we’ve covered in this podcast, in case you wanted to skip ahead and explore a specific topic.

  • The marketing tool that has stood the test of time [1:46]
  • The 5 keys benefits of storytelling [2:51]
  • Master the art of storytelling [6:00]
  • Actions speak louder than words [7:37]
  • Which types of stories provide the best motivation? [10:12]
  • The key component for your story [16:23]
  • The psychological benefit of storytelling [16:40]

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Links Mentioned in the Podcast:

PODCAST #31

https://onlinemarketingfordoctors.com.au/podcast/position-your-practice/

ONLINE MARKETING FOR DOCTORS WEBINAR COURSE

https://onlinemarketingfordoctors.com.au/webinar-marketing-system/

The Story of Johny Walker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ6aiVg2qVk

We left the link to this great 6 min story video of Johny Walker in the shownote, please check it out, it is worth it.

One of the best-known taglines in the liquor industry is probably “Keep Walking” by Johnnie Walker. The story dates back to 1819 when John, the founder, was still a young boy working on a farm, and it starts “the year was 1819 and John Walker’s father had just died. A tough start for a humble farm lad, you might think, but there was always something special about John. A glint in his eye, a fire in his belly, a spring in his step perhaps“.

John had to sell the farm and started to work at a local grocery shop. He was passionate about whisky so he decided to blend his own and sell it at the shop. He always tried to produce the best quality whisky and it made him quite popular. He continued producing and selling whisky until he passed away in 1857.

His son Alexander continued his father’s legacy and introduced the square bottle to reduce breakages. Later, Alexander passed the brand to his sons Alexander II and George. They renamed to whisky to the popular Johnnie Walker Red Label and Johnnie Walker Black Label.

Johnnie Walker has become one of the biggest whisky brands in the world, starting from a small business settled at a local grocery store. The brand is the international symbol of progress, 200 years later Johny Walker is still “walking” and he’s not showing any signs of stopping.

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Huyen: Do you notice that when you visit the About Us or doctor bio page on a website, we tend to see the same format?

Talking about their experience, education, professional resume, some photos…these are all fine, but have you ever thought that they are missing something important to set their profiles apart from other doctors? Well, telling a story is the best way to connect you with your patients on a different emotional level.

In this very podcast episode, we’re going to talk about How Story Telling Can Set You & Your Practice Apart from Others. And also show you some of our best tips on how you can master story telling and give you some examples of storytelling ideas that you can use for your practice.

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Podcast Intro

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Steve: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Online Marketing For Doctors podcast, my name is Steven Tait and my co-host from the introduction is Huyen Truong. In podcast #29, we talked about featuring this topic in one our future episodes and it may have taken a few episodes, but we finally have it ready for you now.

Every healthcare marketer has firsthand experiences within the medical industry that he or she is supporting, whether that was because of a sick relative or a child recovering from a broken arm, either way… you’ve used an array of their services. But not many of these experiences have been converted into stories that can connect and engage with your target patients.

Huyen: Despite all of the noisy din of the online world, there’s one marketing tool that stands the test of time for attracting prospective patients’ attention, earning their trust — and that is storytelling.

An article in Forbes explains how stories create a “shared experience” from the time we’re born, and that we are hard-wired to receive information primarily through storytelling. Storytelling is relatable and compelling and makes for better patient awareness, engagement, and conversion.

Stories are engaging and capture the attention of the listener. And this is exactly why it’s such a powerful marketing tool.

Steve: In the past, healthcare marketers have been hesitant to create stories around diagnosis and treatment options, thinking such topics are too serious for storytelling. They forgot that the heart plays a crucial role in engaging the brain. Stories take away our fear. People do not feel alone when they are listening to, or imagining, a story.

Huyen: Here are the 5 key benefits of storytelling:

Stories share a real experience. Instead of listing the benefits of your products and services with a large piece of text, you can inform your audience about the way they will benefit from your offer through a story.  When you base your content marketing efforts on stories, your potential patients will get something more than just features and facts. They will understand why they need your service and they will be ready to take the action you suggest.

Steve: Storytelling makes you unique. Your products and services have unique features, but the thing that will really distinguish you from your competitors is your story. When you add an unexpected twist to the content you produce, your audience will remember your brand and think of it whenever they need the services or products you offer.

Huyen: Storytelling adds a human element to your content. Stories awaken empathy. If you don’t have a story that goes with your brand, then you’re just another business. Every marketer should have a goal to develop an emotional connection with his or her audience. You want to make people feel something, so they will be ready to take action as soon as they read one of your texts, watch a video, listen to a podcast, or access any other type of content you produce.

Steve: Establishes authority: When you focus on storytelling and start creating relevant content for patients, you demonstrate that you share their concerns. Storytelling is 92 percent more effective than traditional advertising at increasing awareness and establishing authority. This is because when your patients have a problem, they think about you as their potential problem-solver.

Huyen: Storytelling also doesn’t sound ‘salesy.’ For example, if you say something like Enquire about our services because we have the best team in the field, and our services are very affordable! That statement sounded very dry and unconvincing, right? Taking a very “salesy” approach is the most common mistake that marketers make. When you promote your brand through a story, you’re not trying to convince the audience to buy your products or use your services, you’re just sharing an idea and leaving the decision to them. Customers will be much happier to make a purchase when they feel like they are the ones making the choice, not you pushing them.

Steve: Neuroscience tells us that storytelling makes things “click” for consumers. This research shows that using stories actually creates stronger ties to influencing how people act. All of this points to positive results in increasing engagement with the healthcare industry. But how do you do it? What “stories” do you showcase?

How to Master the Art of Storytelling? We’ve got 4 principles for you

Make it relevant.

The key factor is relevance. Your patients will not engage with your stories unless they understand how and why these stories matter to them. Your patients are not interested in listening to the kind of news that other healthcare facilities put out in press releases. Relevance is the overlap between what you want to say and what your patients want to hear. If your patients cannot see themselves as a character in your story, they will not remember it or learn from it. If your patients can put themselves into the story, and feel the positive result played out by the characters, they start participating emotionally.

Huyen: It’s impossible to think of one story that would appeal to every single person on the planet. Instead, narrow down your focus to your target audience. What problems do your patients face? How can you turn that ideal patient into a character of your story? How can you present the solution in the most compelling manner? All these questions are important in developing a storytelling strategy. When your target audience is emotionally connected to the characters, you’ll be able to grow that story further.

Any story has a main character, its either you or your target audience but whatever story you want to tell you need to make sure it is relevant to the target audience and delivers the key message you want to convey.

Steve: Show, Don’t Tell

In the writing world, there’s a rule that says, “Show, don’t tell.” In other words, to clearly convey what your practice offers and how potential patients would benefit from choosing your practice, it is better to demonstrate how you provide that solution rather than simply telling in. Painting a picture with a story about a patient by telling about his or her challenges, emotions, and solutions rather than a laundry list of dull, descriptive medical terminology can help move your audience emotionally and connect more deeply with you.

Another writing slogan along these lines is, “Facts tell, stories sell.” Here’s one simple example: A vein specialist had been posting on her blog about how she uses the latest laser technology in her varicose vein removal procedures, but she felt that her blog posts were falling on deaf ears. She wasn’t getting calls from new patients, and she wasn’t seeing much growth in website or Facebook visitors.

Huyen: Then, she wrote a story about a woman in her 70s who had had an excruciating varicose vein stripping surgery about 20 years ago. She had developed more varicose veins since then, and they were severely limiting her lifestyle because of the pain and swelling they were causing in her legs.

She heard that this vein specialist had newer, less painful treatment options and consulted with her about the procedures. After her laser treatment, she raved about how easy this varicose vein procedure was compared to the one she had many years ago, and said she wished she’d pursued treatment much sooner because she felt so much better without the constant pain and swelling.

Steve: The vein doctor didn’t even need to reveal her name; she simply referred to her as a “grandmother of four” which was enough to give the readers a context for her age. Her experience alone invited prospective patients to put themselves in her shoes and realize how far medical advances have come, and how those newer modern treatments might help them as well.

The post was shared four times more than another blog post the vein specialist had published, and it remains one of her practice’s most popular for generating new patients. In fact, first-time patients often mention that they read it when they come in for their initial consultation.

Huyen: Solution Vs. Pain-Based Stories

The vein doctor’s blog post about a happy patient’s experience is a good example of how stories can give patients motivation by seeing how another patient like them benefitting by taking action to find a solution. They can envision how a positive outcome might also be possible for them by taking a similar action.

Steve: On the flip side of solution-based stories are problem-based stories, and these are also powerful. Also referred to as pain or fear-based marketing, problem-based stories illustrate what might happen if a patient doesn’t take action.

And we’ve got a great example for you… after this quick break…

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Webinar Promo

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Before the break, we were talking about problem based stories, and here’s an example for you: An ophthalmologist had been running a promotion on glaucoma screenings for a month. She knew, of course, that glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness and that vision loss often happens before a patient realizes something is seriously wrong.

Huyen: She was continually frustrated by how many patients she saw who already had permanent vision loss that was beyond repair. Had they come to her sooner she could have recommended treatments to slow the progression of their disease and prevent permanent vision loss.

Despite the promotion, she wasn’t having as many new patients call to sign up for a screening as she expected. She had written blog posts on her practice’s website about treatments that can help patients with glaucoma, which did inspire a few people who already knew they had the condition and were considering a more proactive approach to managing their condition.

Steve: But the real problem was that the majority of potential new patients a) didn’t think they were at risk for glaucoma, and b) didn’t know what the consequences would be if they did develop glaucoma but failed to treat it early.

So she decided to tell the story of one her patients who didn’t think he was at risk for glaucoma and, as a result, didn’t get screenings for the condition until he had lost significant vision in one eye.

Huyen: Without naming him, she told the story of a man in his fifties who came to her after his vision had become uncomfortably blurry. He thought he just needed new glasses, and admitted that he hadn’t been to an eye doctor in several years. His age already put him at a higher risk for glaucoma, plus he had a grandparent that had had glaucoma, which also elevated his risk.

After performing a comprehensive eye examination, the ophthalmologist detected that he did indeed have glaucoma and that it had, in fact, advanced quite significantly in one eye. When he asked her what could be done to reverse the vision loss he was experiencing, she had to tell him that while there were steps they could take to slow the progression of the disease, the vision loss he already had was permanent.

Steve: She described this whole scenario in her blog post and added that the man then put his head in his hands and said, “I always saw ads or heard people say you should have regular eye examinations to watch for stuff like this, but I never thought it would happen to me. I wish I’d known that it could happen to me and that having eye exams sooner could have saved my eyesight.”

After she posted the blog on her website and promoted it on social media, her front office staff reported a notable increase in both new and current patients calling to request a comprehensive eye examination, including screening for glaucoma.

Huyen: By telling the man’s story, she essentially invited other patients to put themselves in his shoes and to take action sooner rather than later. In this case, the story helped her audience understand why not visiting an ophthalmologist might hurt them, but in other cases, she may use a patient success story to show how she helped patients save their eyesight with preventative care or restore their eyesight through the most advance, up-to-date surgical procedures.

Steve: Just like in the case of the ophthalmologist’s patient story, you don’t need to divulge the patient’s name for the story to be viable; you simply need to present the scenario. Your potential patient sees a story in action of how your practice helped someone else, which translates to how it could help them as well.

Huyen: Built Trust & Loyalty

Storytelling has another psychological benefit for prospective patients as well. When you tell a story about a patient, no matter their unique circumstances, it conveys that you see your patients as people you care for. This may seem like a given to you, but many patients feel like doctors see them as just the numbers on their chart.

According to a National Institute of Health survey, up to a third of patients believing that doctors do not truly care about or listen to them. However, when they read about how you understood why a patient was worried about an illness or a procedure and how you helped them find relief, they see that you’re relating to your patients on a personal level.

Steve: When patients can relate to their doctors on a personal level, they’re much more likely to stay loyal. In fact, an article in the New York Times relayed how studies have shown for decades that primary care physicians are sued less often if they spend time educating patients about their care, use humor and laugh, or get their patients to talk about their lives and express their opinions. It’s the personal touch, and if you read any online reviews of physicians, you’ll see that it carries through to recommendations and referrals as well.

Huyen: That’s more important than ever because patients today have a consumer-like attitude when it comes to choosing—and staying with—their physicians. If they don’t feel a connection with their doctor or perceive clear ways that the doctor cares about them, they’re more likely to shop around just like they would for any other service. According to a report by the Altarum Institute Center for Consumer Choice in Health Care, 58% of patients switched doctors for better treatment or service.

Steve: As you can see, Storytelling touches emotions, engages the patient, and inspires questions, comments, and interaction. Ultimately, patients gain a greater awareness and understanding after reading about another patient’s experience and are then more likely to remember and act on a solution that another patient benefited from. However, the storytelling must be accurate, visually engaging, and as interactive as possible to attract and keep prospective patients.

Huyen: Well, that’s the wrap up for today’s episode, what do you think? Have you got any stories to share with your existing and prospective patients? Please take a few mins to think about it and spend some time this week to write your first story, post it on your website, share it with your email subscribers, social media followers, and see if you notice a different audience engagement with this type of content. If you want to share the idea of your story with us, shoot us an email and we could help you form an incredible story.

Thank you very much for your time and we look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Bye for now.

Show Notes:

The Story of Johny Walker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ6aiVg2qVk

We left the link to this great 6 min story video of Johny Walker in the shownote, please check it out, it is worth it.

One of the best-known taglines in the liquor industry is probably “Keep Walking” by Johnnie Walker. The story dates back to 1819 when John, the founder, was still a young boy working on a farm, and it starts “the year was 1819 and John Walker’s father had just died. A tough start for a humble farm lad, you might think, but there was always something special about John. A glint in his eye, a fire in his belly, a spring in his step perhaps“.

John had to sell the farm and started to work at a local grocery shop. He was passionate about whisky so he decided to blend his own and sell it at the shop. He always tried to produce the best quality whisky and it made him quite popular. He continued producing and selling whisky until he passed away in 1857.

His son Alexander continued his father’s legacy and introduced the square bottle to reduce breakages. Later, Alexander passed the brand to his sons Alexander II and George. They renamed to whisky to the popular Johnnie Walker Red Label and Johnnie Walker Black Label.

Johnnie Walker has become one of the biggest whisky brands in the world, starting from a small business settled at a local grocery store. The brand is the international symbol of progress, 200 years later Johny Walker is still “walking” and he’s not showing any signs of stopping.

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