Marlon Brando can teach you a lot about healthcare copywriting.
Don’t believe me?
Watch his performance in On the Waterfront: Suffering and redemption. Love and loss. Self-pity and personal triumph.
All the stuff you need to write great healthcare copy.
You don’t watch great performances—you live them.
As Terry Malloy, Brando plays a failed prizefighter and dead-end dockworker. Set up and betrayed by his brother, Terry rides a “one-way ticket to Palookaville.”
And we ride with him.
Great performance—and good copywriting—isn’t a spectator sport. It grabs your attention. It pulls you into an emotional world. It has the power to change lives.
There’s a method to it. And you can use it in your copywriting.
Take a copywriting lesson from Method Acting.
Brando was a student of The Method. He relied on its tools: sense memory, strong “given circumstances” and powerful objectives to help him create compelling characters.
We say an actor “plays” a role. But it takes enormous work. Before memorizing lines or setting stage movement, Method actors build complex inner lives for their characters.
As they study scripts they ask, “What do I want, what’s my objective—in this play, this scene, this beat?”
Weak objectives make lackluster performances.
But young actors often make weak choices. When asked to identify objectives in a heated scene, an inexperienced actor might say he wants “to stop fighting” or “to get out of this room.”
“Then go!” advises his seasoned acting teacher. “What’s stopping you?”
“But I can’t leave,” protests the actor. “It’s not in the stage directions: The playwright has me standing here arguing for the next five minutes.”
“Then I guess ‘leaving the room’ isn’t your objective,” says the acting mentor. “Choose another.”
Why most healthcare copy fails
Healthcare marketers often choose similarly weak copy objectives. When asked, many healthcare clients say: “We want to educate.” “To inform.” “We’re aiming to raise profile.”
These are limp objectives. They’re destined to fall flat—because they fail to move readers.
Of course you want to educate, inform, raise profile—but only to help your readers do something: Move to action, take the next step, call, click, make an informed decision.
Choose a conversion-driving objective.
To write strong healthcare content you need to choose a strong and specific objective. As a marketing copywriter, you likely know this as your copy’s conversion goal.
Healthcare copy conversions are rarely direct sales. Instead your copy asks customers—patients, doctors, donors—to take action: click deeper into your website, call for more information, join your mailing list, ask a doctor about your product.
Don’t waffle: Make a choice.
Hard-sell tactics are inappropriate for healthcare marketing. But make no mistake: Every single healthcare project you write—website copy, blog post, email, collateral, newsletter content, press materials, physician profiles—requires an objective.
It threads through your work. Strengthens your voice. Helps you speak intimately with your audience. And moves people.
Like a Marlon Brando performance.
Need your own Method for crafting objective-driven healthcare copy? Please contact me.
Photo courtesy of Music to My Ears.