You’re a healthcare marketing expert immersed in the world of strategy, patient acquisition, physician recruitment, service line campaigns and more. You’re also a patient—a user of healthcare—someone who has the same healthcare experiences as your target audience.

This dichotomy makes you extremely vulnerable to believing you know what your audience is thinking, feeling, seeing and doing—because after all, like them, you are a healthcare consumer. But, you are not like them. You are a consumer with too much inside information and that makes you susceptible to what Brian Clark, contributor to Copyblogger, calls the curse of knowledge.

Curse of Knowledge Symptoms

You may be suffering from the curse of knowledge if you’ve been:

  • Lulled into thinking your target audience reads what you read, listens to what you listen to, attends the same concerts, subscribes to the same newspaper or dozens of other things you may like.
  • Tempted to dismiss what might be the most important answer to solving your audience’s problems because you know the solution and believe everyone else does as well.
  • Enticed to create messages that confuse your audience because they reflect your inside knowledge.

4 Easy Steps to Breaking the Curse

It’s easy to break the curse. All it takes is legwork, some listening and a little data.

  1. Start by stepping back and realizing that believing you know what your audience wants, thinks and feels and actually knowing what they want, think and feel are two very different things.
  1. Stop assuming your audience is like you and dig in. Get out of your office and do the work. Hang out in the waiting room or ask patients if you can buy them a cup of coffee. Listen and ask them about their concerns and needs:
  • What do they think about when making decisions about their care? Their family’s care?
  • What are their top concerns about their care?
  • What healthcare services do they need?
  • What would they like to know?
  1. Cultivate internal informants—people who have regular contact with your audience. Physicians, nurses and staff members may be able to provide important insights into the behaviors and concerns of patients.
  1. Explore your audience’s online behavior. What are they searching for, what questions do they need answered? What content are they sharing, what sites do they use as sources of information? What keywords are they using to search for solutions?

What you may respond to in terms of communication may never be what resonates with your target audience. How you perceive the world of healthcare is skewed and will always be that way. Next time you’re tempted to believe you know what your target audience will respond to, tell your curse of knowledge to take a backseat, step away from the computer and get yourself to the waiting room or the hospital cafeteria for an afternoon.