Social Marketing – Learn from a Nurse, Not a Doctor


This past week, I took my son, Max in for a procedure/operation. (He is doing well.) While this was an obviously concerning and caring moment for all of my family, the event played also like a strong metaphor for social marketing. And as you can tell from the title of the article, the nurses kicked butt and completely out scored the doctors in “user experience” and “brand relationship.” Let me explain …

So my son is 16 years old and went in for his first surgery ever. Not a complicated or life threatening scenario, but he was extremely uncomfortable and uptight, understandably so. Both the nurses and the doctors understand their target audience. They have been at this “business” for a long time and are seasoned professionals. Both the doctors and nurses had an objective of making the user experience as positive as could be. Their approaches to the objective differed slightly, but the nurses generated a much better outcome than the doctors.

The first nurse we met with started a conversation with my son and learned some things about him. She keyed in on the TV shows he watched and discussed episodes with him. The exchange was very pleasant and definitely took his mind off things for a bit.

Later Max met with the anesthesiologist and surgeon preforming the operation. They took a stereotypical approach of talking to a young male about sports. But you see they failed in their objective. Max is not interested in sports. His passion is in the performing arts. Max was uptight to begin with given the fact that the operation was about to take place. And then the irrelevant banter from the doctors worked him up even more. Max’s user experience was poor because the content of the conversation was not applicable to him.

Both the doctors and nurses had the same objective and approached the task with light conversation. But the key difference between the two was that one group listened to what was important to their audience and the other just assumed they understood the demographic. They both communicated and engaged, but one was right on target while the other was far off.

This could be a fable, but it was a real scenario and highlights some extremely important factors for successful social marketing. Have you ever heard the line, “I know I am wasting half of my marketing dollars; I just don’t know which half”? Well if you knew more about the people you were serving, you would deliver them content or ads that are relevant and resonate with them as opposed to broadcasting to the entire audience and serving no relevance to individuals.

To quote David Ogilvy, “Do not address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.”

Think about this … follow these social marketing steps …


Your marketing efforts will be much more effective as you get to understand your audience better. And understanding your audience is best achieved by listening. Do you hear me?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve



Filed under marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

2 responses to “Social Marketing – Learn from a Nurse, Not a Doctor

  1. Jim Matorin

    Listening key, but unfortunately thanks to all the clutter out there and our need to constantly stay connected/check-in, our interpersonal listening skills are diminishing. The same can be said for some brands since they are run by people that are not listening as carefully. More concerned about publishing.

    Glad all is well with your son.

    • Not surprisingly at all – I am currently working with a start up that has an AI (artificial intelligence) engine that listens to social conversations; produces a content brief; and distributes relevant content based on user behaviors. Look for Smart*Story coming soon. So our ability to “listen” and do something actionable can be helped.

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