Anyone with a gift for the written word can put lipstick on a pig and take it out on the town. In the patient-driven economy we’re currently in, your prospects are well aware of that, which is why they consume the content you produce (like your web pages) with a hint of skepticism.

Instead, they turn to the words of others to help them come to a decision for their healthcare needs, in the form of:

  • Reviews, and
  • Testimonials

We’ve talked at length about reputation management and how best to protect the online personas of your doctors and organization. But while you can’t entirely control the climate of online reviews made on 3rd-party sites, you can promote the positivity surrounding your hospital or clinic through testimonials.

Here are 4 types of patient testimonials that you should start using in your marketing strategy:

Pairing quote testimonials with before/after photos

The quote testimonial is the tried-and-true testimonial archetype that rarely goes wrong. Even in today’s multichannel marketing mix, the simplicity of the quote testimonial makes it adaptable.

For example, you could dress up a powerful patient quote with a dramatic or bold colored backdrop and post it on your site as well as across social media.

But what’s most effective is to pair these quote testimonials with before/after photos.
Prospective patients have a need to see the results of certain procedures as proof of effectiveness.

If, for example, treating burn victims is one of your specialties, showing how the work performed in your hospital transformed the appearance of a patient can be as impactful as the associated testimonial from that patient.

Mining social testimonials and online reviews

As part of your reputation management plan, your organization should be monitoring all mentions of your brand and doctors.

By doing this, not only can you address problems as they arise, but you can pick out and repurpose glowing comments made by patients.

One of the biggest draws of these types of testimonials is that rather than asking for patient feedback, social and review testimonials are done organically.

Consider taking screenshots of (or embedding) tweets or posts you find online that highlight a patient’s positive experience with your team.

Bringing it to life with video

Video has infiltrated our world. Smartphones can stream videos which are now easily accessible from YouTube, Facebook, and just about everywhere else.

Videos also help you reach a segment of the population that simply prefers not to read content online.

While a video testimonial might take some effort to get started initially, if you develop a template, in no time you’ll find it to be rather effortless.

So, how do you create a video testimonial?

If we’re talking about the most fundamental type of testimonial (a patient quote), have a space in your hospital dedicated to recording these testimonials. I recommend a space where there’s little distraction in the background, as well as good overhead lighting (I also recommend avoiding a space where lighting comes in from behind your subject).

You can use your smartphone or tablet as a camera, if you must. However, while the video quality is high, you’ll find a phone’s audio capabilities lacking. You might want to invest in a separate audio recorder (they can run around $300).

If you do choose to use a mobile device, be sure to film horizontally, or else your video will be useless across most mediums. Use a tripod or steadying device (even if you use a state-of-the-art video camera). Set your camera up to film your subject from their shoulders up (but don’t zoom in; that causes pixilation).

If a patient agrees to be recorded for a testimonial, have the patient prepare his or her response before being recorded and take a few practice rounds. Being recorded on camera can be stressful, so make the experience fun and rewarding for your patient.

Tell a story – It’s far more effective

If you have the choice between crafting patient testimonials or patient stories, most people would recommend the latter.

I recommend both.

The most effective type of testimonial in your arsenal is your patient stories. These stories include all the elements of a good TV show:

  • A protagonist
  • An antagonist (the illness or affliction)
  • Drama
  • Resolution

The art of the story hasn’t changed in centuries, because, well, it works. And it can work for your testimonials.

If you develop a patient story that has a clear 3-part sequence (introduction, conflict, resolution), and produce a quality video that conveys that story (mixed with interviews with the patients, doctors, b-roll shots) you’ll have one of the strongest marketing pieces at your disposal.

And that’s when you can revert back to the tried-and true conventional testimonial.

For example, let’s say that your patient story involves a 60-year-old man who needed triple-bypass surgery. During his on-screen interview, the patient reveals that, “Before my surgery, I accepted whatever Fate had in store for me. But I just couldn’t bear to cause my wife pain. I had to survive.”

What a powerful quote! Why not pull that quote out from your video, superimpose it over a striking graphic, and share it across the web (while linking to your video)?

Then, why not transcribe your video into both a written article and audio recording, giving you even more content to share?

Of course, depending on the resources you have in your organization, crafting these in-depth patient stories may be a stretch. However, the impact of even one story is well worth the investment. Consider dedicating time for your staff to create at least one story per year, or hire an outside production agency to do it on your behalf.

Make the most of the content you have

As I alluded to above, your best approach to maximizing the impact of your patient testimonials is to repurpose the content you have in multiple iterations. Compile all of your quote testimonials into a long-form marketing handout. Splice your video testimonials into a series for your YouTube channel. Promote specific passages from your patient stories on social media and beyond.

Your prospective patients are far more influenced by what others have to say about your staff and organization than what you have to say. Take part in that conversation by crafting patient testimonials that go beyond the status quo.