Decisions, Decisions: It’s OK to Get Emotional

Logic, rationality and dispassionate analysis: In the OR, they form the basis for good medical care and the best possible outcomes.

In the outside world where potential patients actively decide who will provide their care, they’re not nearly enough. The fact is that all major “buying” decisions involve both rational and emotional elements and marketing strategies that fail to address both are unlikely to succeed.

Consider the typical aesthetic consumer. We know from the behavior of visitors to RealSelf.com that he or she (most likely she) spends weeks, months and sometimes years asking questions, analyzing options and reading other people’s reviews. (Almost half (48%) research for more than 1 year and 17% research for more than 3.)

But that research is anything but dispassionate. After all, there aren’t many decisions that are more emotional than ones involving body image, self-esteem and society’s mixed messages about cosmetic surgery. Doctors who address the emotional components of decision-making in their marketing efforts speak the language that potential patients want to hear.

As consumer psychology expert Peter Noel Murray notes in Psychology Today, research has shown that:

  • When evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts)
  • The emotional response to ads has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content
  • Positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments which are based on a brand’s attributes

Put the above together and it’s clear that the best strategy is to combine elements that appeal to both the rational and emotional components of the aesthetic purchase journey. Here’s how:

Blend owned and earned media: Content you’ve created (e.g. procedure descriptions) give website visitors the facts they need to make informed decisions while insights from others via social media and online reviews create the emotional connections that lead to more positive brand perceptions.

Use text and photos: The amount of research that aesthetic consumers undertake is proof that they’re hungry for detailed information about everything from procedure options and recovery times to complications and total cost. Yet, when 65% of people say they’re visual learners, it’s impossible to overstate the powerful pull of a good Before & After gallery.

Be both competent and caring: Obviously, every aesthetic consumer wants her surgeon to be a pro but too many doctors still believe that’s the only factor under consideration. And while board certification is still the gold standard, today’s patients want to know their provider will care for them — and about them — not just in the OR but throughout their aesthetic journey.

Ultimately, it’s a balancing act. By ensuring that your marketing efforts incorporate both rational and emotional elements, you effectively blend the practical with the personal, creating a stronger, more lasting impression than either element can on its own. As Murray notes,

A brand is nothing more than a mental representation of a product in the consumer’s mind. If the representation consists only of the product’s attributes, features, and other information, there are no emotional links to influence consumer preference and action. The richer the emotional content of a brand’s mental representation, the more likely the consumer will be a loyal user.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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