first impressions[Series Installment] “First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes,” former diplomat Elliott Abrams observed.

But doctors don’t have much of an opportunity to make a face-to-face first impression these days. In the Internet age, patients come in the door with a predetermined perception of the provider. They know you by a dozen digital sources, including your website, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, email or Twitter stream.

For physicians—as well as for medical group practices and hospitals—the challenge and the opportunity is to proactively shape new patient opinions with quality online content. And the goal is to attract, retain and interact with a community of prospective and new patients.

It’s multi-faceted; communicated by social media and the strategies and tactics of your consumer healthcare marketing. By definition, this is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Click To TweetUse these impression-forming ideas and techniques to make what you post online creative, engaging and sharable:

Feed the needs of your audience. The operative words are “valuable and relevant,” with a backdrop of “authoritative.”

Deliver value that can be used and shared.

Inform, don’t promote. The value of information is high when it is perceived as beneficial to the reader. But “overtly pushing a product or service” that is perceived as sales promotion (and benefiting the seller) destroys trust and confidence.

Go for “ah-ha” moments. When ideas communicate, there’s a breakthrough—the evocative ah-ha spark—of inspiration, comprehension or realization.

Add the spice of variety. Incorporate diversity in the ways information is presented. Where they fit, consider using:

  • Authoritative Quotes
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Guest Authors
  • Infographics
  • Interviews and Podcasts
  • Lists, rankings
  • Photos, Illustrations, Images
  • Thought Leaders
  • Videos, Animation

Inspire interaction. When possible, ask questions, encourage dialog/discussion, make comments, ask for reactions or input.

Be timely, fresh and relevant. Hitchhike content by connecting useful information to news headlines or popular topics. Present or report about what’s new, little known or surprising.

And above all, don’t be boring. Readers disappear in droves when they don’t understand, or when information simply isn’t interesting and useful. Highly effective and interesting content that you publish will capture attention, be thought provoking, and inspire a reaction.

If this sounds like a serious creative challenge…well, it is. But connect with us here, and we can help get you started. The information that you present online is what forms the all important first impression. Plus, it can reflect your personality, extend brand awareness, build trust, and, ultimately, engage and attract new patients.

For more in this series, read: 7 Things Doctors Should Know About the Value of Content Marketing, and Using Content Marketing to Deliver Inbound Patient Prospects.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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Stewart Gandolf

Stewart Gandolf

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Healthcare Success Strategies
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is CEO of Healthcare Success, a medical marketing and health care advertising agency. He is also a frequent writer and speaker. Most importantly, he is happily married and a "rock-n-roll daddy" to two wonderful girls.
Stewart Gandolf
Stewart Gandolf


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