… or why you probably REALLY don’t know whether your doctor is a REAL doctor!
The news stories are alarming, scary, and sometimes just plain bizarre. Here are some of the headlines:
- Police: Fake doctor gave physical exams to truckers in Carlisle
- This Fake Doctor Gave People Cement Booty Injections
- Fake Michigan doctor fooled hospitals for 15 years
- Teen fooled doctors for a month after allegedly posing as OB/GYN at hospital
The last two stories are especially interesting because they reveal that even REAL doctors can be fooled by the FAKE doctors. The 17-year-old teen above carried through with the stunt for an entire month, even being “recognized” by doctors, nurses, and security officers at the hospital as one of their physicians. How did he do it? From the newspaper report: “According to police, the teen wore a white coat with the hospital’s logo and “anesthesiology” embroidered on the front. He even wore a stethoscope around his neck.”
In the field of medicine, a white lab coat, embroidered department insignia, and medical instruments like a stethoscope, act as non-verbal TRUST MARKS to observers that the person DISPLAYING these items is (in all likelihood) a medical professional. In the case above, the trust marks were so powerful that they convinced almost everyone at the hospital to VOLUNTARILY transfer their TRUST to the 17-year-old flashing these (stolen) symbols.
Now, if I asked you about your doctor could you honestly tell me that you KNOW for certain that they are a doctor? For most of you, the answer is probably no. Instead, you have placed your INITIAL confidence in their medical ability based on their ample display of trust marks like:
- The “medical clinic” they practice in
- The doctor’s office “signage“
- The “uniformed” staff on premise
- The “other patients” waiting to see them
- The sterile “scent” of the medical facility
- The “medical equipment” in the examination room
- The “medical diplomas” and “certifications” displayed on the walls
After being exposed to all of these TRUST MARKS, we assume the individual in the white lab coat and stethoscope greeting us MUST BE a doctor.
Even if your doctor really is a doctor, do you know:
- Whether they graduated at the top of their medical class or the bottom?
- Whether there are any disciplinary issues outstanding with their medical board?
- How many complaints have been made against them in the last year?
If you are like most people, the answer is no. I don’t know this about my doctor either. Instead, we base our CONTINUED trust in our physician based on items such as whether we like them, the length of our relationship, and if we get better after we are prescribed a course of action for an illness. It is usually only in the face of DIS-CONFIRMING evidence such as odd behavior, an unflattering news article, or an announcement of a medical board disciplinary hearing that we change that opinion.
What’s the marketing lesson?
Most people are more than willing to give you their INITIAL trust based solely on the TRUST MARKS you display.
In their first encounters with your brand, your prospect will actively look for TRUST MARKS that indicate that they should place their confidence in you. Most people are more than willing to give you their INITIAL trust based solely on the TRUST MARKS you display. Your job is to identify and PROMINENTLY DISPLAY these symbols. Here are some basic TRUST MARKS to start with (choose what is relevant to your business):
- Photos of Key Staff
- Credentials: diplomas, degrees, certifications
- Location (status, safe, convenient, etc.)
- Country of Origin: (e.g. a German car, Swiss chocolate, Proudly made in the USA)
- Manufacturing process (e.g. ISO 14000)
- Manufacturing materials (e.g. we feature a tungsten carbide tip)
- Safety assurance (e.g. CSA or Underwriters Laboratory seal)
- Security (e.g. website SSL certificate)
When you START WITH TRUST, everything else flows more easily.