Previously I wrote about one panelist’s good answer to Jen McCabe’s question, “How come consumers aren’t rushing to adopt these personal health solutions?” But someone on the panel gave a really bad answer, too. He said:
“Consumer health apps and devices are taking off because people won’t pay for stuff.”
That answer got a second vote on the panel and most in the room nodded in agreement. That answer is wrong and while it might make us feel better because it implies it’s not our fault, it disempowers us as health marketers.
First let me acknowledge that it is hard to get people to pay for stuff. It’s why companies like Sermo, Patients Like Me, and others that don’t want to go out of business are rushing into the arms of Pharma. If you can’t make your money on ad revenue (and unless you’re a top 5 health site you can’t) and you can’t get consumers to pay (it’s hard) then you go to the people sitting on tons of money–pharma. Lot of people gnash their teeth at this fact but as a consumer I’d rather have a free solution with a pharma logo on it then to have no solution at all. But I digress…
So people won’t pay for stuff, huh? Seems to me that people love paying for stuff. They pay a lot for all kinds of stuff including beer, video games, stupid movies, porn, sports cars, designer handbags, ridiculously expensive watches and chia pets.
We just don’t make decisions rationally. We choose short term pleasure even if there is long-term pain. It’s easy to spend money on things that make us feel good now, even if there are consequences down the road.
It’s really hard to get off my damn couch and workout. After all, it freakin’ hurts. It’s really hard to take that pill that is going to make me nauseous now, when my disease doesn’t seem to be that bad this week. And if the health problem is something that I can’t see or feel, I just can’t relate. I know these cheese fries are going to make my cholesterol go up, but I can’t see it or feel it happening. And besides, I’ll eat salads next week to make up for it won’t I?
So back to selling your mobile health doodad, your patient community, monitoring device, whatever. Dig deep, and think about the immediate benefits. I wish it weren’t so, but that’s what you have to sell. You can do it subtly, you can do it with finesse, you can use a message ladder to adjust to your audience but that’s the secret.
Harley isn’t selling a motorcycle, they are selling the power of middle aged paunchy executives to be able to leather up, roar into town and scare the crap out of old ladies and kids.
We act–we change our behaviors–from an emotional response, not a logical one. I fought this truth for too many years in too many of my businesses but now this truth empowers me: We decide with emotion, we justify with logic.
A couple years ago at Kru we did an exhaustive research study of people with chronic insomnia. It’s a widespread problem, a serious health issue, and yet most people will never talk to their doctor about it or take any serious action to remedy it. There were of course different segments within this population, but by and large what we found was that people didn’t really care much about sleep, but they do want to be alert in the day. They don’t really care about insomnia, but they do want to have the energy to play catch with their kids, make love to their spouses, and drive their daughters safely to their troop meetings. It’s a desire for energy (just think about all those “Five Hour Energy” power drink commercials).
Don’t get confused, this isn’t classic feature-benefit stuff. If you take that straightforward approach then you’ll think the benefit is “health” or “no headache” or “real time monitoring” and you’ve got it wrong. It’s the benefit you get after the benefit.
People do spend money on stuff. But it’s on the stuff they care about, not the stuff you care about.