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Your marketing materials could come back to sue you

Editor’s note: This article was written by guest blogger Anthony Cirillo, FACHE, ABC, a healthcare marketing and experience management expert and elder advocate. For more information about the author, please see our About page.

I attended an interesting session at the American College of Healthcare Administrators last month, during which a lawyer in the industry essentially reviewed how language and images in your marketing materials can be construed as a binding promise for which you could be held liable. One example she used to illustrate her point was that if you use models of a certain ethnic background in a brochure and these are not representative of the community at large, someone could say it implies that other ethnic groups are not allowed in. Likewise if you show active seniors in your imagery, it could be discriminating against those with disabilities. If you tend to use superlatives and language that is all-inclusive (“all your needs will be met” etc.), they could come back to haunt you.

The speaker then made the point that to be safe you should only list what your services are and don’t go down the path of how those services benefit the recipient. The stating of the benefit can get you in trouble. As a marketer, that goes against every fiber of my being. Marketing is all about what is in it for the customer, the benefits. So what is a person to do? Well luckily, I have an answer.

Most people do not realize the value of storytelling. Storytelling is powerful and truthful. So to answer this lawyer, I might write the services provided in one flap of my brochure but I sure as heck am going to tell a resident story on another. When you tell the story people will read between the lines to understand how the service has resulted in a benefit.

The best way to then spread stories is through word of mouth. Most people do not realize that word of mouth is an actual marketing strategy that can be leveraged and planned. I have eight points I cover to help organizations do just that. Want to know them? Drop me a line at cirillo@4wardfast.com