In chapter five of my ebook, 7 Deadly Sins of Healthcare Content Writing that Kill SEO and Turn Off Prospective Clients, I discuss the importance of “voice” in healthcare communications. The concept of voice can seem esoteric to anyone who didn’t earn an English degree – not unlike the way the concept of “polypharmacy” can seem inscrutable to a healthcare consumer without a medical degree.
But, regardless of what degree you earned, voice and tone are a very important concepts to master in healthcare communications. Your brand voice can either alienate prospective patients or woo them. I’m here to demystify the concepts of voice and tone to help you learn how to write healthcare content that creates a visceral connection with prospective clients and ultimately inspires them to seek your services.
What are voice and tone?
The Writing Cooperative on Medium sums up the concepts of voice and tone very nicely:
A good analogy is that your voice is your personality, and your tone is your mood.
Your voice — like your personality — never changes.
Your tone, on the other hand, changes based on the situation.
I would expand on this definition to say that voice includes point-of-view, as well. In fact, in my creative writing program we often talked about first-person, second-person, and third-person voice when we meant “point-of-view.” In my ebook I write at length about the essentialness of using second-person voice when crafting content aimed at prospective patients. (Marketing nerds will call this “B2C” content.)
Why does point-of-view matter? To illustrate why this concept alone can make or break your web content, check out this imaginary website copy I crafted for a hypothetical plastic surgeon:
First-person voice: “I was named a TopDoc by XYZ Magazine last year. I earned my medical degree from Ivy League University, and I completed a fellowship in facial plastic surgery at the renowned Able Baker Medical Center. I strive to please every patient with long-lasting results from facelift surgery.”
Third-person voice: “Our doctor was named a TopDoc by XYZ Magazine last year. He earned his medical degree from Ivy League University and completed a fellowship in facial plastic surgery at the renowned Able Baker Medical Center. Dr. X strives to please every patient with long-lasting results from facelift surgery.”
Second-person voice: “If you’re considering facelift surgery, you may want to know that Dr. X completed a fellowship in facial plastic surgery at the renowned Able Baker Medical Center. When you book a consultation, you can talk with Dr. X about what to expect from facelift surgery and how long the results might last.”
Obviously I changed more than just the point-of-view here, but that’s because it’s hard to write in second-person voice without also becoming more conversational. When you read these examples, which one appeals to you the most? Doesn’t second-person voice sound more intimate? Warmer?
How to develop your healthcare brand voice
Your brand voice should be consistent across marketing assets, from your website to materials you hand out to patients. But how can your voice be consistent if you don’t know what it is?
Keeping in mind that your brand voice reflects your brand’s personality, here’s an easy exercise to help you begin developing a voice that will connect with your audience. Simply brainstorm personality elements you want your voice to include, such as:
You get the idea. For providers, one great way to establish an authentic brand voice is to incorporate your own personality traits into the company’s voice. For example, if you’re a plastic surgeon with a sense of humor, it’s OK to include a touch of that in your brand voice. Why would you not?
Developing a brand voice requires much more thought than simply saying: “We’re going to use a friendly voice in our content.” What does that mean? To fully develop and codify your brand voice, you need to drill down into the nitty-gritty details of diction, for one thing. I’ll discuss how to do that in another post. But for now, if you need help figuring out your brand voice and codifying it in a style guide, give me a shout. I’m happy to help!
Learn more about voice and other essential aspects of crafting healthcare content with heart. Download our free ebook: 7 Deadly Sins of Healthcare Content Writing that Kill SEO and Turn Off Prospective Clients.
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