The science of persuasion
Much of healthcare marketing theory has been built on the assumption that minds (especially those in science and medicine) think rationally and act accordingly. But they don’t. In fact, studies show that although people might claim they make decisions in a certain way, it isn’t how they go on to behave in practice.1
Think about healthcare professionals. The work they do is hyper emotional; they deal with pain, joy, anxiety, unhappiness, hope, loss, and anger on a daily basis. They’re also only human, and so come to work with their own emotional states and traits that influence their responses to the work they do, situations they face, the patients and colleagues they’re surrounded by.2
As such, emotions play an intrinsic role in clinical judgement, and will do so increasingly as patients (with their own emotions) are asked to be fully involved in their own care, with decisions made in partnership with clinicians.2
In short, if you want to motivate healthcare professionals to change behaviour, you need to build your marketing narratives around empathy first – facts second.
Winning hearts and minds
Of course, we do all have a conscious, rational processor, but it is slow, deliberate and difficult to compel. This is the ‘mind’ we have (wrongly) been taught rules our day-to-day thinking, reasoning and decision-making.
The non-conscious processor, on the other hand, is fast and wonderfully effortless. It is the seat of our emotional lives and home to our long-term memories, biases and associations we’ve made over the years. It exists to make sense of the unbelievable amounts of information that we’re constantly absorbing from the world around us – and at least 95% of thinking happens here.
In order to influence decision-making most powerfully, we need to communicate in a way that triggers memories and creates connections, with a dose of creativity that appeals to real human emotions. If we want to create a better future for health, we need to go via the heart and then the head. And that’s exactly what we’re on a mission to do.
- Michael Lewis. The Undoing Project, 2016.
- Heyhoe, Jane and Birks, Yvonne Frances orcid.org/0000-0002-4235-5307 (2016) The role of emotion in patient safety: Are we brave enough to scratch beneath the surface? Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. pp. 52-58. ISSN 1758-1095.