What Patients Really Want From Fertility Marketing

Are You Reading Your Daily Blog Roll?
Remember “What Women Want,” the movie starring an unmentionable male movie star as a chauvinistic (art imitating life) advertising executive who could read women’s minds? His “gift,” incurred after he accidentally hit his head, helped him achieve a better understanding of the opposite sex both professionally and personally. It was released about ten years ago — before that person’s infamous drunk driving accident when I still would watch a movie in which he starred. But if it were released today, the male character probably would be reading blogs and keeping tabs on Facebook and Twitter to discover what women really want.

A Window into the Heart and Soul
In the infertility field, one of the easiest and most accessible ways to learn what patients are feeling and experiencing is to read the many infertility-related blogs. At last count there were thousands of them on Melissa Ford’s, The Stirrup Queen, infertility blog roll, which is probably an underestimation of the number of women writing daily, weekly or monthly about their infertility journeys. Though the bloggers may not necessarily be your patients, I am sure many share similar sentiments with them.

Not only are patients expressing how they are feeling about their hopes, relationships and treatment, but they are also relaying what they think about clinics’ marketing efforts. A few weeks ago, I came across an interesting blog on Twitter about infertility marketing from @DCPatient. What I read was illuminating. @DCPatient’s thoughts really resonated with me as a fertility marketing maven. So I direct messaged her and we arranged to talk. She also happens to be the chief executive officer of a healthcare strategy firm based in Washington, DC. that guides pharmaceutical, biotech, and diagnostic firms in their alliances with patients and physicians. So her perspective is both personal and professional.

Are Clinics Brave, Bold and Honest Enough?
@DCPatient’s blog post reminded me that patients want to look beyond the platitudes and lovely phrases that I and others often use in ads and that they really are after a sense of the experience they will actually encounter. In other words, they want the truth. Just like blogs, marketing and advertising can indeed be windows into the heart and soul of a clinic if they depict the organization’s brand well. In particular, I was struck by her wish for a center to be “brave, bold, and honest enough” to put forth the qualities she wants to find in a clinic — all of which you can read on her great blog. But of course, we must capture the essence of any message within 30 seconds, a limited number of characters or a lone headline and then direct readers to a Web site that can succinctly outline all those attributes she and other patients are seeking.

In a perfect world, it would be nice to have a budget large enough to conduct extensive market research on a frequent basis so that fertility providers could refine and adjust their services and branding. Serono was able to talk to patients extensively before they launched their recent Birds and Bees campaign. But until then we can also take advantage of the nonstop market research and networking that social media provides. Not only will you or your staff be conducting “market research,” but more importantly you will feel more connected to the pain, frustration, joy and hope that so many express through their lovely and moving words.

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