Compassionate Language in Marketing: Reaching Out to Those with Substance Use Disorder

When it comes to marketing for substance use disorder treatment, the words we choose and the messages we send can make a profound difference. Compassionate language is not just a marketing tool; it’s a bridge to trust and healing. Here’s how to infuse compassion into your marketing strategy:

Understand the Power of Words

Words have the power to stigmatize or support. By using language that is non-judgmental, supportive, and respectful, we can create a space that encourages individuals to seek help. Phrases like “person with a substance use disorder” instead of “addict” can convey understanding and respect for the individual’s struggle. Having honest conversations through the text about topics like dual diagnosis and relapse can also help potential clients to feel like they have a place at your center.

Words also have power when it comes to search, because while you may like a compassionate term, that doesn’t mean people are searching that way. We use keyword research tools to find out how many people are searching for certain terms on a monthly basis, to make sure your content matches the way people actually search. After all, you can’t help anyone if they can’t find you.

Educate Through Content

Develop content that educates the audience about substance use disorder as a medical condition, not a moral failing. Blogs, articles, and social media posts should provide valuable information that helps to dismantle myths, offering a narrative that is rooted in empathy and facts. Remember that not everyone looking for treatment is the person with SUD – often it is family and friends getting information and understanding, and even employers. You can lead the way with content that informs and educates and doesn’t stigmatize, make people feel bad or guilty, or seem condescending. If your content is medical in nature, try to have a doctor or licensed professional weigh in. This not only legitimizes the content, but it also helps your content to show up in the search engines because of the requirements around health-related content in search.

Share Stories of Hope and Recovery

Stories are powerful. For people with SUD, sharing true stories of those who have recovered with your programs can inspire others to do the same. Often, these stories are what make the difference for someone seeking help. Many 12-step recovery programs work off this model as well, since personal stories and personal experience allow the person with Substance Use Disorder to ‘hear’ the conversation instead of getting defensive. Showing things like video, before-and-after, day-in-the-life and personal accounts of their treatment experience can give a visual to what is often a very scary process.

Engage with Your Audience

Marketing is a two-way conversation. Engage with your audience by responding to comments, messages, and reviews with compassion and understanding. This not only helps to build relationships but also demonstrates that you value their voice and journey. Remember that a lot of people are looking at your entire online ecosystem when it comes to making a decision about treatment. This means your online reviews, your Google Maps listing, your social media, your website, even company reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. Managing all of these details is an important step to show your potential clients that you care about and are paying attention to the whole picture.

Train Your Team

Ensure that every member of your team understands the importance of compassionate language. From the receptionist to the social media manager, each interaction is an opportunity to express empathy and support. If you are using an outside team for your marketing needs, you need to ensure that everything from your ad copy to the content on your web pages follows these guidelines. For this reason, many treatment centers employ marketing teams that have experience working in this industry, because otherwise you can end up with offensive ads that demean or belittle potential patients.

A note about ad copy: If you are bidding on things like ‘drug rehab’ or ‘drug treatment’ make sure your ads match these terms and are not solely alcohol-related, and vice versa. Otherwise, you risk losing out on potential clients to a center that has more targeted ad groups.

Use Inclusive Visuals

Images and videos are a central part of digital marketing. Choose visuals that represent the diversity of individuals with substance use disorder and avoid stereotypical or triggering imagery. One look at any of the stock image websites will show you what we mean – there are often really bad photos that either look really fake or show people pretending to use or looking really depressed. We don’t find any of that to resonate with this type of patient. Instead, try to look for or make inclusive visuals that show a diverse census population, and are more focused on the ‘hope’ side of recovery. After all, that is what people are looking to you for.

Monitor and Adapt

Listen to the feedback from your audience and be willing to adapt your language and approach. Marketing strategies should evolve as we learn more about what resonates with and supports the community. For example, the term Substance Use Disorder is relatively new, online therapy sessions are a more recent development, and even the term ‘dual diagnosis’ came on the scene about 10 years ago. It’s important to keep your marketing efforts related to what is being said in your centers as well, because if you don’t seem relatable as a treatment center, then you may lose out on patients. You must be able to monitor both search and conversion trends and adapt as needed.

Using compassionate language in marketing isn’t just about being kind; it’s about being effective and ethical. It’s about extending a hand to those who are often misunderstood and marginalized. By thoughtfully crafting your marketing message, you can help lead individuals with substance use disorder toward the first steps of their recovery journey.

Here, we’ve outlined the keystones for integrating compassion into your marketing efforts. Remember, the goal is to create a message that not only reaches out but also uplifts, and in doing so, we can all contribute to a more understanding and supportive world.

Related Articles

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

Sign up for more tips!