Thursday, June 2

Prescribing Credibility Online

A new study of consumer attitudes toward health care information sponsored by Medical Broadcasting Company (MBC) and fielded by Nielsen/NetRatings found that the Internet is seen as the most trusted media source for consumers, decisively outstripping offline media when consumers want credible health information.

While research shows that consumers trust their doctor first when it comes to health information, patients are increasingly using the Internet to inform the doctor-patient dialogue. In this new survey, 42 percent of respondents said they trusted health information they found on the Internet, compared to just 16 percent for information found in other forms of media. Consumers are also taking advantage of the great depth of health information on the Internet. More than 85 percent of respondents said they look at two or more Web sites when searching for health information.

The survey also found that over 65 percent of respondents said they use the Internet to research important health topics before and after they visit a doctor. And despite recent challenges to the credibility of the pharmaceutical industry, nearly one-third of respondents said they use the Internet to visit pharmaceutical company Web sites for information about prescription products.

This growing trend is not limited to health care. More and more, people are turning to the Internet in order to formulate a base knowledge on products and services before they consult experts or purchase products and to gain more insight prior to making a decision. Part of the reason can easily be attributed to the searchability of the Internet. But another part of the reason can be traced to consumer trust, online and off.

For years, consumers have been plagued by marketers aiming to oversimplify messages, leaving consumers with no reasonable understanding of how to make their purchasing decisions. For example, one newly released book claims that emotion-laced copy stands a better chance to sell a diamond than a brief description of its size, shape and four Cs.

Hmmm. I'm not entirely convinced. Certainly some emotion-laced copy might draw the reader in, but sooner or later a well-versed consumer who has searched the Internet and become familiar with the four Cs will use that information to draw comparisons between one stone and another (unless you give them a reason that supersedes the four Cs as we recently did for one of our European clients).

Certainly the authors have demonstrated some great streamlining Web solutions for several clients, but they miss the mark on crafting messages by falling into the trap of telling people what they 'should do.' Marketing and advertising are as much an art as a science. There are no 'shoulds' and more consumers know that now more than ever before. As the study suggests: consumers are no longer satisfied with doctors saying they 'should' take this or that. They want to know what taking this and that means exactly. They want to feel informed and they are finding the Internet makes them feel that way.

2 comments:

RealBadNews on 6/3/05, 9:27 AM said...

I think part of the problem is that people seem to want to rely on formulas rather than strategic communication to achieve their objectives. That certainly sounds like the case regarding the book you referenced.

Rich on 6/3/05, 10:50 AM said...

There are formulas ... and then there are formulas.

Some formulas say: you should do this and design it that way and write it this way. Sometimes they work. So there are a lot of people in the communication industry who will try to prove such formulas work with an armful of case studies that consist of less than five percent of their total portfolio.

Then there are formulas that suggest: ask questions, define objectives, analyze situations, and develop communication strategies that meet the objectives.
Sure, I've over simplified it. But this almost always works. For the few times it does not work, there is always a contingency. Sure, it means all your case studies might be different, but their pulled from 95 percent, not five percent, of the total portfolio.

Just for kicks, let me frame this up a different way. If
Angelina Jolie wears a dress and looks fantastic in it, there is no guarantee that you will look fantastic in it based on the her dress formula. However, if you consider your body size, personality, etc. and pick a dress that fits, someone might say you look fantastic (maybe even as fantastic as Angelina).

Marketing is very similar to fashion. One size does not fit all. And I would look pretty silly in a dress.

Post a Comment

 

Blog Archive

Google+ Followers

by Rich Becker Copyright © 2010 Designed by Bie Blogger Template