I Have 8 Seconds

At the Florida Association of Orthotists & Prosthetists meeting in July, I gave a presentation entitled “What You Need to Know About Digital Marketing for 2015.” Eight seconds. That is really all you need to know.

Communicate with a photo

Did you know the average attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds, and now it is 8 seconds? Did you know the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds? I have probably already lost you if you are a slow reader. How challenging is marketing if the average attention span is 8 seconds? Pretty challenging. What is the silver lining? Pictures.

Elizabeth Mansfield

O&P, unlike brain surgery or sausage making, is a visually pleasant career. Before and after photos or short videos of patients being fit with their devices or walking for the first time after an amputation make people happy. I have said it a million times but pictures are worth a thousand words. You do not need to have a voiceover when you show a patient in a wheelchair with no prosthesis and the same patient walking down the hallway. Nobody needs to read a paragraph about plagiocephaly when they see an adorable baby before, then with a helmet and then after. The pictures speak for themselves. How lucky are we? Can you imagine a picture of a brain with a tumor, pre-surgery and then a picture, post-surgery? While we can appreciate, intellectually, that the end result is good, it is much harder to process the photos with our eyes. You do not get the same “warm fuzzies” as you do when you see someone taking their first steps.

Make memories last

Now that we have established how important pictures are when visually representing how amazing prosthetics and orthotics is, we need to take it a little bit further. Have you heard of PSE, or the picture superiority effect?

According to this theory, memories can exist verbally, “imaginally” or both. Images presented in the form of photos exist in both systems, but abstract concepts are only recorded verbally. In other words, if you want someone to remember something you should use pictures to visually represent the concept. If you want them to remember it longer, you should use pictures with words.

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If you want people to remember what you say, whether it is your marketing, advertising, employee training, patient education or advocacy efforts, use pictures with words. If your goal is to have them understand what you are saying, make it easy for them. Use pictures.

This is especially important in patient education and advocacy efforts when you need to make a big impact in a relatively short period of time. You can blather on all day about the effects of using too many socks or you can show them what a residual limb looks like when the wearer has put too many socks on. You can yammer away at your legislator about the difference components make in the overall weight of a prosthesis and why titanium is better than wood or you can show them a picture with the weights written on them.

Is using pictures more work than just typing up a bunch of text? It sure is, but put the effort in and you will be rewarded with greater understanding.

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