Marketing Like You Give A Sh*t

It was a simple gesture, but it made me a lifetime client. It cost the company little time and money. This one simple thing crystallized the goal of medical marketing in my mind to the point where I was so moved to write it down in hopes of doing the same for you.

We need to let our clients know — in everything we do and in everything we create — that we give a shit.

I’m an avid grappler. I train multiple days a week in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), one of the hazards of which are skin infections. As it is in healthcare, hygiene in BJJ is paramount. It keeps you and your training partners safe and healthy. Also mirroring healthcare, the demand for better infection control agents has given rise to new lines of sanitization products. In BJJ, it’s soap.

As a professional marketer, I tend to think that I’m above enticement by the bait of well-placed advertising or well-crafted marketing. But I’m not immune to indirect marketing, or the marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing — the often-overlooked art of giving a shit.

I found myself out of soap. I had two choices: 1) Order my usual brand, which was readily available on Amazon Prime and had worked well, or 2) Take a shot on a new brand, which had good word-of-mouth reviews from my peers. After some pricing and investigation, for a few bucks more, I decided to take a shot on the newcomer, Hawaii-based Armbar Soap Company.

Armbar Soap is not on Amazon Prime. It ships from Hawaii, so it takes relatively longer to reach the east coast. The bars and bottles are smaller than their competitors’. And they’re slightly more expensive. Here’s why I’m only buying from them from now on:

A human being on the other side of the country took 30 seconds to write that note to me, and it

made Armbar Soap thousands of my dollars over the course of my lifetime.

I believe in all fields, but especially in medicine, it’s the small, human gestures that are most effective in sharing what we bring to the world and keeping our customers loyal. More often than not, these human gestures are simply the kind, morally sound things we do for each other in our daily social encounters. Why do we suddenly forget them as professionals?

As you can see by this one small example, not only do these gestures bring moments of levity to the daily lives of our customers, but they can also be measured in dollars. It got me thinking, how much revenue does a nurse create for a hospital by always smiling at his patients? Or an imaging tech who escorts lost patients to their destination, instead of sending them to the information desk, or worse, giving them complex directions? Or the dentist who personally calls each patient at the end of the day to see how they’re doing? Or the chiropractor who gives free wellness lectures at her local yoga studio?

These professionals are showing interest in and compassion for their fellow humans. They’re showing that they give a shit — even when the car won’t start, the kid is failing algebra and the coffee tastes like it was stirred with a stick of chalk.

It’s certainly imperative that what we, as medical marketers, must put a human face and heart on our services. It’s also just as important, if not more so, that humanity and compassion come across in what we do. This sort of behavior is contagious. It’s marketing of action, not words or ideas. It can prompt sea change within our organizations. And most important, it’s the right thing to do.