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A Persuasive Doctor’s Success Formula for (Almost) Everything

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Man in suit pointing at the word "Persuasion"Mastery of the many dynamics of personal interaction in healthcare is, in the kindest of terms, a continuous challenge. But successful individual doctors, hospitals and sprawling health systems have a semi-secret formula for success.

The curious thing about this six-point recipe is that it has helpful applications to nearly every type of communications and person-to-person interaction. It’s useful in one-to-one encounters between physicians and patients. The principles are fuel for engaging social media.

And in healthcare—from delivery systems to marketing and advertising—Dr. Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion inspire patient compliance, elective care selection, positive patient experience, audience engagement and achievement of business goals.

Impact Business Partners Ltd, a kindred business organization based in the United Kingdom, published an informative series of “universal rules” of influence. IBP specializes in organizational sales team performance, and their take on the rules is, not surprisingly, about sales.

The IBP folks remind us that “as many as 95 percent of our decisions are made by the subconscious mind” via our cognitive biases. Thus—for success in physician selection, sales, patient satisfaction, social media and other interactions, there’s a psychology at work “building connections with customers, and influencing them to say “yes.”

With due credit to IBP, here are their “sales” observations and applications, plus some helpful direction as you apply them to the business of healthcare:

“Rule 1: SOCIAL PROOF: When uncertain, look at what others are doing. We look at what others are doing or have done to resolve personal insecurity when making a decision. About 81 percent of individuals receive advice from friends and family relating to product purchase.”

Healthcare Success: Consider how social proof is a main ingredient in using social media, word-of-mouth, patient referrals and online physician ratings and reviews. There’s more help at: Using Social Proof to Win Friends and Influence People.

“Rule 2: AUTHORITY: Authority rules, even when it’s not logical. Specialists' findings are highly regarded due to their perceived expertise. About 77 percent of online shoppers rely on reviews to make a purchase decision.”

Healthcare Success: Doctors and medical providers, generally regarded as an authority figures, have an advantage in public perception. Here are: Nine Steps to Becoming a Recognized Healthcare Authority.

“Rule 3: SCARCITY: Less is more. We value resources more as they become less available due to fear of potential loss. About 80 percent of people prefer getting exclusive offers making them feel like a winner.”

In some situations, this idea could apply to retail/sales incentives. More broadly, medical specialists and sub-specialists are also publically perceived as a valuable resource in healthcare.

“Rule 4: LIKE: Follow those who you like. We emulate people we like, admire and find attractive. It helps build social bonds and trust. Roughly 50 percent of people have made a purchase based on a recommendation through a social group or online network.”

This may be one of the strongest influence factors in winning and sustaining patient allegiance. For more on this, read: Nine Free Ways to Quickly Engage Patients and Build Enduring Loyalty.

“Rule 5: CONSISTENCY: Stay consistent. When faced with uncertainty we prefer options that are consistent with experiences. About 62 percent of people are brand loyal due to overall satisfaction and will struggle to change or try new brands.”

This principle easily transfers to healthcare branding messages. Here’s why: Brand v. Bland: The Top Seven Reasons Healthcare Branding Means Business.

“Rule 6: RECIPROCITY: Pay it forward. We have an innate desire to repay favors. Nearly 78 percent of people say they will choose a brand over alternatives if they feel valued and cared for.”

One of the strongest influence factors in the changing competitive landscape today is: Healthcare’s Consumerist Revolution and the Quality of Caring.

READ MORE: And for an overview and more applications for a doctor’s universal success formula, see: Using the Six Principles of Persuasion in Healthcare Marketing. Or simply give us a call today. We'd be pleased to help.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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