Armed with Insight: What a Healthcare Study Taught Me About Marketing Insights

A doctor’s job is relatively simple to describe: diagnose and treat whatever ails the patient. Stated differently: help the patient restore their health and position the patient in a way that he or she stays healthy in the future.

Marketing is not all that different. We’re not exactly saving lives, but marketers do much of the same work as a physician when choosing tactics and determining how much to spend and where—we diagnose an unhealthy area (or otherwise identify areas that could be made healthier through certain changes) and we prescribe a course of action.

Unfortunately, we’re not always doing the best we can for the “patient.” Here’s a story from the healthcare industry to demonstrate a point:

Think about the last time you sat in a doctor’s office for minor ailment. Likely, you sat in the examining room for a few minutes, the nurse came in and performed some cursory tests and then the doctor enters. You begin to describe the problem and all the while the doctor jots down notes and sometimes gets up to take a closer look here or take a reading there. Finally, the doctor scribbles out a prescription, gives you his opinion and some advice on treatment and sends you off on your merry way.

The doc’s job is done—but have you been served as well as you could have?

NPR reported on a recent study in the healthcare industry called OpenNotes. In this program, doctors openly shared their notes with the patient—no hiding the ball; no mystery scribbles on the doctor’s notepad.

The result: 80 percent of patients reported a better understanding of their condition and felt like they were in better control of their health. The entire process became more collaborative—in essence, as stated in the words of one of the participating physicians: “[T]he medical record [became] a collaborative tool for patients, not just a record of what we doctors do to patients.”

OpenNotes was essentially healthcare armed with insight. Your marketing should be the same.

Your audience is unique—remember the story of OpenNotes and think about what insights you might be missing. While your tactics may be treating a problem on the surface, they may not be as effective as you can make them.