When I first started writing on healthcare and health IT (HIT) topics, one of the pieces of advice I was given was that anything I write should keep in mind that the audience is highly educated, with advanced degrees and serious mindsets. Basically Ferris Buehler’s teacher. Buehler? Buehler?
But if the headline to this blog post made you smile, conjuring up visions of Will Farrell in a shirt two sizes too small and Christopher Walken being, well, Christopher Walken, it proved an important point: At the end of the day, clinicians and HIT leaders put their pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else. Even if they don’t make hit records once their pants are on.
Think about how major brands such as Coca-Cola, Budweiser, BMW or various movie studios promote their products. They don’t have separate ads or PR campaigns for clinicians or HIT leaders because “normal” consumer advertising doesn’t work on them.
No one drinks one brand of soda or beer over another because of data or logic. They all make you fat and lazy. They do it because they like the taste and/or identify with the brand image. When physicians plunk down money for that highly coveted BWM, it’s not because of gas mileage research; it’s because they’re sure they’ll look cool driving it. And as Star Wars: The Force Awakens was setting its box office records, it was doubtless doing it with plenty of clinicians and healthcare technology leaders in the audience. At least some dressed as Wookies.
Introducing an unfamiliar or complex topic by relating it to something readers already know and like can help draw them in and get them to a basic understanding of the value proposition much faster than a pure lecture on the facts. For examples, look here and here.
Yes, there is a time to be serious and straightforward, such as in a journal article or a white paper. But in many other materials, a reference to pop culture, common quotes or other more consumer-oriented areas can put just the right amount of cowbell into your message.
What do you think? Does writing for healthcare and HIT need to be boring? Have you tried taking a more consumer-oriented approach to explaining complex topics? If so, has it been successful?