Marketing for Diabetes Service Line Campaigns: Facts Without Fear

by | Aug 29, 2018 | Service Line Growth

 The facts surrounding diabetes are shocking, but relying on scare tactics to engage those at risk for diabetes or living with the condition rarely translate into meaningful change—marketing for diabetes service line campaigns can be done tactfully and compassionately while helping target and engage this demographic.

Look up any dia­betes infor­ma­tion site, and you’ll be met with alarm­ing sta­tis­tics such as:

  • More than 120 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are liv­ing with dia­betes or pre­di­a­betes.
  • Dia­betes is one of the lead­ing caus­es of dis­abil­i­ty in the Unit­ed States.
  • Near­ly 80,000 peo­ple die from dia­betes each year—more than breast can­cer and AIDS combined.
  • The World Health Orga­ni­za­tion dia­betes fact sheet says that “Dia­betes is a major cause of blind­ness, kid­ney fail­ure, heart attacks, strokes, and low­er limb ampu­ta­tion” and pre­dicts that dia­betes will be the sev­enth-lead­ing cause of death by 2030.
  • Mar­ket­ing to Dia­bet­ics” writer Michael Dono­hoe rec­om­mends focus­ing on dia­betes as an epi­dem­ic, and rec­og­niz­ing there is a per­cep­tion that the dis­ease is a “death sentence.”

The num­bers speak for them­selves: dia­betes is a ris­ing prob­lem, and the health com­pli­ca­tions it can cause are severe. Mar­keters may be tempt­ed to make dia­betes aware­ness cam­paigns look like for­mer New York City May­or Michael Bloomberg’s pub­lic health ads: warn­ings of impend­ing com­pli­ca­tions, grue­some descrip­tions of gan­grenous ampu­ta­tions, tales of cau­tion about peo­ple who did not man­age their blood sug­ar lev­els and lost their sight, kid­neys, or lives.

It’s an under­stand­able angle—one that has been effec­tive for smoking—but specif­i­cal­ly for dia­betes aware­ness, it may not res­onate. Instead, mar­ket­ing for dia­betes ser­vice line cam­paigns must help relieve fear and present the facts.

To spark ideas, here’s a guide to inspire your dia­betes-relat­ed con­tent and campaigns.

Fear Marketing: Short-Term Scares Versus Long-Term Changes

Under some cir­cum­stances, fear mar­ket­ing can work. Dolores Albar­racin, senior author of the study “Appeal­ing to Fear: A Meta-Analy­sis of Fear Appeal Effec­tive­ness and The­o­ries,” explained in an inter­view with NPR News that fear-based mar­ket­ing is effec­tive at chang­ing behav­ior and atti­tudes toward health and well­ness. How­ev­er, Albar­racin went on to say that those cam­paigns are most effec­tive toward one-time behav­iors (e.g., get­ting a flu shot) as opposed to lifestyle changes (e.g., main­tain­ing a healthy diet).

“Long-term changes to behav­ior pat­terns are often pro­duced by changes in skills,” she says, cit­ing smok­ing as an exam­ple. Smok­ers who con­tin­ue the behav­ior, even when they are well aware of the neg­a­tive con­se­quences, usu­al­ly do so because they don’t know how to stop.

Rely­ing sole­ly on fear-based mar­ket­ing is risky–that’s not to say it can’t be done and done well. The facts sur­round­ing dia­betes are cer­tain­ly shock­ing, and there’s no need to shy away from them entire­ly. How­ev­er, unless there’s a clear plan of action pre­sent­ed on how to pre­vent or man­age dia­betes, it’s going to do lit­tle more than pro­vide a short fright with few or no long-term ben­e­fits. Instead, by focus­ing on inform­ing and edu­cat­ing peo­ple with dia­betes, mar­ket lead­ers across all cat­e­gories find ways to inspire change through infor­ma­tive ser­vice line mar­ket­ing rather than incite fear.

When plan­ning Dia­betes Aware­ness Month cam­paigns and con­tent, here are three pos­i­tive steps you can take to mar­ket dia­betes aware­ness in your community.

Empower with Information

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing dia­betes as a man­age­able con­di­tion real­ly dri­ves home the sta­tis­tic. Dono­hoe rec­om­mends focus­ing on the fact that many peo­ple remain unin­formed and une­d­u­cat­ed about dia­betes until they are already diagnosed.

When mar­ket­ing dia­betes solu­tions or cam­paigns, he rec­om­mends using the NIH guide­lines for health lit­er­a­cy to cre­ate clear, sim­ple con­tent that explains what dia­betes is, how it can be pre­vent­ed, and how it can be man­aged if a per­son is diagnosed.

Equip with Easy-to-Follow Guidance

Pre­di­a­betes and Type 2 dia­betes are almost entire­ly pre­ventable con­di­tions, and all forms of dia­betes can be con­trolled with a healthy diet, phys­i­cal activ­i­ty, and reg­u­lar screen­ings. The most impor­tant thing for peo­ple new­ly diag­nosed with any type of dia­betes is to under­stand that they are still in con­trol. The fright­en­ing com­pli­ca­tions don’t come from dia­betes, they come from uncon­trolled diabetes.

Engage with Ongoing Support

Dia­betes is not an unstop­pable nor impend­ing doom. It’s a pre­ventable and man­age­able dis­ease. The stakes are high, but patients aren’t guar­an­teed to fail. Teach your audi­ence how to pre­vent and man­age dia­betes to give them a sense of con­trol, and offer them a sense of hope that, with the right man­age­ment tech­niques, they don’t have to become a cau­tion­ary tale.

Let’s Educate Your Community

Let’s explore ways True North can help engage con­sumers in your community.

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