Picture this: There’s a nagging health condition that has been bothering you for years. Even if you don’t notice the symptoms all the time, you’ve absorbed more than enough information to understand the scope of the problem. You know the treatment options, the potential benefits to be gained by improving your health, and the dangers of continuing on your current path…
But nothing changes.
Maybe you’ll keep collecting more information about your health condition. Maybe you’ll keep telling yourself that you’ll take care of it soon. But the days and months go by, and you find yourself in the exact same place as before – or possibly even worse off.
If this sounds familiar, you might be experiencing “health inertia.” Health inertia is a common behavior pattern that can affect the entire scope of healthcare – everything from minor wellness and prevention tweaks to major operations and follow-up.
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Most of us have experienced health inertia in our own lives or heard about it in our social circles. As a healthcare marketer, you need to understand the full extent of the health inertia your audience might be experiencing.
Wunderman Health’s 2018 Health Inertia Study reports that 56 percent of the people surveyed with at least one chronic condition felt they were healthy enough not to change their lifestyles. That number only accounts for the people who have stopped trying. When you consider those who are still trying to improve their health but struggling to do so, that percentage climbs even higher.
At first glance, it may seem strange that these numbers would be so high. In an age with limitless healthcare information only clicks away, why are so many people still wallowing in health ruts? The truth is, while more information is valuable, it doesn’t necessarily translate into concrete action. Too much information can actually be counterproductive when it comes to your healthcare audiences.
Take cigarette smokers, for example. Most are aware of the risks. They’ve heard about the dangers countless times from doctors, loved ones, and even the cigarette packaging itself. But for many, knowledge isn’t always enough to inspire a change of behavior.
It’s often easier to keep researching and consuming healthcare information in endless loops and falling into analysis paralysis instead of acting on what we already know. Throw in the difficult choice of which healthcare information to trust (and whom to get it from) and things can get pretty overwhelming. This is frustrating for healthcare brands that work hard on their content marketing – only to wonder why such a large portion of their audience never turns that information into action.
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Obviously, overwhelming your audience with content – even if it’s remarkable – isn’t a guaranteed way to inspire action. What can you do about it? Here are a few options for helping your audience overcome health inertia.
Most people are super busy these days. The thought of digesting tons of information and then completely overhauling their lives can intimidate even the most motivated among us. You can help keep things manageable by using simple words to break down complex topics and including images, videos, and other media to complement the text and make it easier to understand.
In addition, rather than overwhelming your audience with multiple ways to improve their health, try to end every interaction by offering a single action that audience members can take right now. This shifts the focus from “I have to change my whole life” to “I just have to take this one simple step” and will help inspire them into action.
Statistics, even impressive ones, can be motivating, but there’s no substitute for emotional appeal. This is a vital part of our “engaging head and heart” philosophy at Bloom. Inspire your audience by painting vivid pictures of just how different their lives could be with better health. Encourage your audience members to share their own stories of success using your platform to showcase their experiences. Not only does it empower these patients, but it also gives hope to other audience members who can see that, if others could do it, but change is also possible for them too.
It’s easy to let a health condition make a person feel isolated. It might be painful or embarrassing or just something they’d rather not talk about with most people because they’re afraid others wouldn’t understand. Reassure your audience that they’re not alone, and back up those words with a commitment to being supportive wherever you can. It doesn’t matter if it’s answering phone calls, fielding questions on social media, or moderating a forum. These actions don’t go unnoticed; instead, they show your audience that you genuinely care and that you’ll always have their backs.
Motivation is powerful, but it’s temporary. Deciding to be healthier sounds a lot more appealing before you face the realities of following through. This provides the perfect opportunity to stay in touch. By using your marketing to create multiple interactions with your audience, you can continue to inspire them whenever their motivation fades. Regular follow-ups – in the form of blog posts, videos, podcasts, emails, or anything else – provide much-needed boosts of inspiration and positivity. This establishes your brand as the one to trust while creating some accountability for your audience members looking to finally overcome their health inertia.
The road to better health is worth the effort, but it isn’t without its challenges. Healthcare brands that pretend it’s simple are often trying to motivate their audiences – but they might discourage them instead. If given the impression that things should be super easy, it’s easy for your audience members to feel like there’s something wrong with them if they struggle. The solution? Embrace radical honesty. Identify the common pitfalls most people will face and create messaging that helps them move forward. This humanizes your brand and gives your audience the practical solutions they need.
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Health inertia is a challenge for us all. Although there have never been so many resources to educate ourselves, that doesn’t always translate into action.
A solid content marketing strategy motivates as much as it informs. Staying aware of this balance will help you give your audience that emotional push they need to be happier and healthier next year.
How have you motivated your audience to overcome their health inertia? How about in your own life?