Principles of Influence in Healthcare Marketing: Social Proof
Robert Cialdini, PH.D.’s well-known New York Times bestseller “Influence” is based on the six principles of influence. These six principles are social proof, commitment, reciprocation, liking, authority and scarcity. All six can be applied in the healthcare field to make a practice stand out from the rest. Over the next few months, I’ll explore each of the principles individually, beginning with social proof.
Social proof is a handy technique for expos/trade shows and online representations. It’s the idea that people will do what others around them are doing, otherwise known as the bandwagon effect. When you see a crowd gathering around something, your immediate reaction is find out what is going on. Another example is celebrity endorsed products. If a celebrity or well-known figure stands behind a product or service, the association will often sway a consumer’s decision.
The social proof principle in healthcare
How does this apply to the healthcare industry? When you’re representing your practice at an expo amongst rows of similar physicians/products, you need a hook that will make attendees want to stop at your booth. Having a crowd around your booth will trigger the bandwagon effect.
Research your audience before going to the event, what interests them the most?
Creating the bandwagon effect
What are some things you could have available at your booth or things you could do to make this happen?
The obvious technique is to have some sort of “treat” for attendees to pick up for free. However, this has become a staple and almost every booth knows to put out a candy bowl. Try to find a more creative way to entice the attendees. Research your audience before going to the event, what interests them the most? If you can’t think of a small freebee that will spark a crowd, a high-quality giveaway item for a drawing can work just as well. A side benefit with this technique is that you even collect contact information to use as a follow up after the event.
The online world
A big part of social proof is the online world. Online is a tough market now that ratings, rankings, likes, and follows are readily available to the public. It’s important to build your online presence and keep these rankings positive. An integral part of picking a physician is checking their ratings and other types of reviews. Organizations are unable to remove negative reviews, but the way to override them is by having more positive feedback and keeping that positive feedback as the most recent feedback. If an organization has great reviews, lots of 5-star ratings, and a big following, they’ll be high on your patients’ radar when choosing where to go or which physician to see.