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What My Grandmother’s Magazines Say to Your Patients About Their Brand Experience

By Kathy, Senior Marketing Strategist

Kathy Roy Gaughranby Kathy Roy Gaughran, Senior Marketing Strategist

My travel schedule takes me to the offices of healthcare providers throughout the nation. Each initial visit is a great “first impression” opportunity for me to take the role of a new patient who is seeing the practice with fresh eyes. The “experience” (seeing and feeling what impacts the patient/public) is an important part of the total brand message. And sometimes details speak the loudest.

Here are two contrasting illustrations from the real world. Both of these practices are in the same medical building and serve the same upper-middle class community. Both perceive themselves as up-scale providers who are in sync with their up-scale patient audience.

The reception area of the first practice, an internal medicine group, was a surprisingly high-tech welcome. You couldn’t miss seeing the two large flat-screen, hi-def TV screens, plus several, free-to-use, Wi-Fi tablet computers in case you wanted to check your email or simply go online.

Nearby is a pediatric dental office where they had a few magazines. OK…there’s nothing wrong with magazines per se. But here, the available magazines were way off-target for their intended audience of 30-something parents (mainly moms) and their middle school age kids.

I couldn’t help thinking the magazines might be of interest to my grandmother…if she were alive. At best, these were blue-collar, middle-America titles, and clearly not appealing to suburbanite, white-collar families or females.

An inconsequential detail, you say? It's unlikely that anyone will complain about the magazines. And an office doesn’t need the expense of state-of-the-art techno-tablets to make an “up-scale” or "high tech" statement. But out-of-place and out-of-date magazines push hard against your brand perception.

It would cost no more for the magazine selection to align with the interests of the target audience. In this case, perhaps current titles such as Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, Dwell, Arch Digest, Food and Wine or Bon Appetite would hit the mark.

Although tablet computers are a nice touch, if you don’t have them, they probably are not missed. But an outdated “Marcia Brady” décor, “didn’t-really-notice” magazines and the sum of your attention to detail contribute to—or detract from—your branding message.

Walk in your own front door sometime and tell us what you see.

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