By Laurie Gelb, October 10, 2011
1. It's inaccurate and/or inapplicable. "Our records indicate that you have not filled a prescription for ... [recently sent to pt continuously on drug for 8Y w/ no sampling] Reverse-gender content is common.
Variable data printing is a wonderful thing! Information can be stratified by database variables such as gender, age, zip, fills, dx and more. And it's much better to present the information standing free than the usually-unnecessary but still Orwellian "our records [about you]."
If VDP won't work, segregate stratified info and ID it with a revealing heading, so members can skip past it easily. A general newsletter directed toward all household members can do this, although it's time to question the ROI of this approach. PR, podcasts, videos, etc. should be target-specific and clearly titled, for the same reason.
2. It's wordy. Most Americans do not read a daily newspaper, nor read extensively in their daily activities. Data suggest the reading ability and habits of even college grads have declined. A full-page, single-spaced letter is seldom digested in full, let alone acted on.
Use active verbs and state the facts, using gradual reveals even in print. "For recipes and tips, call 800 VEG 4NOW or go to veg4now.com." Footnote or link the legalities rather than filling the page body.
3. It's condescending. "You may feel that eating five servings of vegetables is too difficult, but did you know that a 6 oz glass of tomato juice is one full serving?"
Best practice: a sidebar or callout with examples of popular, little-known or tasty veg choices, without airing your assumptions about people you've never met.
Stock photos of happy, multiracial people clusters, whether in print or on line, are a similar turnoff. Perfect people can't get sick. Picture something from real life that matters (examples in our next installment).
4. It's impersonal. "Some patients may..."
Best practice: Use "you" if/when it makes sense. "You may feel dizzy, nauseated and even vomit after your first dose of an x drug."
5. It's contradictory. Messaging about the high sodium in tomato juice has appeared adjacent to praise for vegetables and their juices. Fruit juice often suffers from the same fate.
Choose your core objectives based on member and epi data and follow through. One well-supported message makes more impact than four throwdowns. And "lower-sodium" can modify every mention of tomato juice. As for fruit juices, recent evidence is more positive, apart from drug interactions to avoid, so why not give them their due?
Each of these reasons is a way to ice the dialogue before it begins. Does the car salesman approach you and say "You look like a luxury buyer" or "I'll bet you can barely afford a beater"? No, she generally asks what you have in mind, because that's her quickest path to a sale. The more interaction, the more specific the stimuli you can present. Content that's personalized, urgent, relevant and engaging (PURE) drives behavioral change.