31 Amazing Words You Can Use in Healthcare Marketing

power words In the 50-plus years since David Ogilvy published the 20 most persuasive words used in advertising, his insightful vocabulary list remains amazingly appropriate and enduring today.

Admittedly what you write for healthcare requires a more conservative approach than the hyperbole and open-field running that’s allowed in the retail world. But these words can be engaging, attention getting and influential in headlines, email subject lines, social media snippets, ad copy and other medical marketing content.

Alphabetically, here’s Ogilvy’s list:

  • Amazing
  • Announcing
  • Bargain
  • Challenge
  • Compare
  • Easy
  • Hurry
  • Improvement
  • Introducing
  • Magic
  • Miracle
  • Now
  • Offer
  • Quick
  • Remarkable
  • Revolutionary
  • Sensational
  • Startling
  • Suddenly
  • Wanted

But wait, there’s more…

Both society and the media have changed significantly in the past five decades, and—although David Ogilvy’s list continues to be a useful reference—also consider the widely-circulated list of

12 Most Powerful Words in English:

  1. You
  2. Guarantee
  3. Money
  4. Love
  5. Save
  6. Discovery
  7. New
  8. Results
  9. Easy
  10. Health
  11. Free
  12. Proven

As it turns out, this second list of words is commonly—but erroneously—attributed to university research. But regardless of its questionable parentage, the words are creative fodder for effective and compelling healthcare marketing.

Here’s why both lists—especially the word “you”—are useful in health care to gain attention, engage readers and inspire action.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs…

In our experience, healthcare delivery and marketing messaging are critically connected to meeting the needs of the individual. Marketing and advertising professionals have long recognized that, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy, human behavior and decision-making are motivated by one of Maslow’s “needs.” [A Theory of Human Motivation, A. H. Maslow, 1943]

All of the words on the two lists above—and many hundreds of other “power words”—are expressions of, or relate to needs of:

  • SELF-ACTUALIZATION: self-fulfillment, realization of personal potential, personal growth
  • ESTEEM: confidence, achievement, recognition, respect, responsibility
  • LOVE: family, affection, relationships, acceptance
  • SAFETY: protection, security, stability
  • PHYSIOLOGICAL: air, food, drink, shelter

So, the secret to creating the most engaging and effective health care marketing content is in using words that draw their power from a direct relationship with at least one of these needs. These and many other words are part of the fabric of people-to-people healthcare delivery. Touch a basic need and your words touch the individual reader.

The enduring book, Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy, was written in 1963, updated and released again in 1987, and released yet again as a new paperback and Kindle editions in 2012.

Lonnie Hirsch

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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