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How do you talk to your patients, or potential patients?

I don’t mean the actual talking face-to-face during appointments or on the phone.

I mean how do you talk to them in your written communications? You know, through your website, emails, patient handbooks, social media, etc.?

Because the way you speak to them can have a HUGE impact on whether they relate to you, decide to use your services, or even refer you to their friends and family.

Your Tone of Voice

The language in your website will influence whether a potential patient makes the decision to book an appointment with you or go elsewhere. Click To Tweet

The way you relate to your patients through your written communications not only makes a big difference to them, but to your overall business.

You may have the most professional, knowledgeable and caring health providers in your practice, but how will your potential patients ever find out, if your condescending, unfriendly web copy puts them off from making an appointment?

The language in your website will influence whether a potential patient makes the decision to book an appointment with you or go elsewhere. The tone of your emails and your patient handbooks (you do have one, don’t you?) will determine whether your current patients continue to trust their health with you, or choose to look for another health professional. Your presence on social media will convey whether you’re committed to excellent patient care or not. And how your staff talk to patients will determine whether they will return.

This patient-centred language is called your Tone of Voice (TOV) and it forms a vital part in developing all your marketing material including your website, email correspondence, and patient brochures.

Why is TOV important?

Tone of Voice helps you relate to your patients and enables them to trust you with their health, and the health of their family. Click To Tweet

Tone of Voice helps you relate to your patients. It ensures there is greater clarity and consistency to your messages, which in turn helps your patients understand who you are, what you stand for, and how you care for them. In short, it enables them to trust you with their health, and the health of their family.

For example, most healthcare providers want to be seen as professional, authoritative yet friendly, understanding and caring.

This can be easy to do during a personal consultation, but how do you do it through your writing?

It’s all to do with the words and messaging you use throughout ALL of your communications.

And the best way to ensure consistency around this, is to develop a TOV Document.

How to develop TOV

Developing such a document does take some time, but it’s really worth your while. It will form the basis of all your communications. And the best bit is that once you have it, you can give it to anyone who is writing copy for you — whether it’s an agency, copywriter or in-house staff member — to ensure your voice remains consistent across all mediums.

So how do you do it? Here are my 6 key steps.

  1. Determine your core products and services
  2. Understand your unique selling point (USP) — why do you do it better than anyone else?
  3. Establish your target audience — Who are they? How old are they? What are they concerned about? Are they decision-makers? What’s their income level? What are their beliefs?
  4. Know your vision — Who are you as a health provider and where do you want to be in the future?
  5. What are your values and personality? What do you want to be known for?

Step 6 is to write it all down!

Once you have determined this, you can get down to the finer details such as the kinds of words you should and shouldn’t use, the type of language (formal, semi-formal, informal) you want to use, and how you’ll express all this. This is called a Style Guide, which can form part of your Tone of Voice document or stand alone. (You can find out more about developing a Style Guide here).

When putting all this information together keep in mind the following:

  • How are your patients likely to be feeling?

  • How do you want them to feel?

  • How will they feel after reading your content?

  • How are they likely to perceive your brand after reading your copy?

Keep working on your document, until you’re happy with your answers to the questions above.

Need some help?

Tone of Voice documents should form the base of all your communications. If you don't know how to develop one, then get someone to help you. Click To Tweet

I’m a big fan of TOV documents because once they’re developed, they make everything so much easier. You no longer need to think about how to craft your messages and marketing material. However, they can be tricky and time-consuming to develop.

If you’re struggling to put together a TOV for your healthcare business, shoot me a message. I’d love to help you develop your identity as a leading healthcare provider.


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