Everyone needs a website, but knowing how to put yourself across isn’t always easy. I write professionally for osteopaths, and these are my top 5 tips on writing your text.
1. Assume Your Reader Believes in Osteopathy
A lot of osteopaths go into great depth justifying osteopathy and persuading the reader that it works. When we so blatantly want to persuade the audience to believe something, it has the opposite effect and sows doubt.
Don’t try and persuade the user you know what you’re doing, write as someone who knows what they’re doing. As they say in fiction writing: show, don’t tell.
If we want to persuade someone of something, what we need is external proof, not us talking about it. What I like to say is that osteopaths also work in the NHS e.g. “many osteopaths also work in the NHS, in the musculoskeletal departments of hospitals“, and that osteopathy is an Allied Health profession, with one of the two links below explaining what that means. Add some patient testimonials (preferably from a public platform like Google or Facebook) and in terms of proving that osteopathy works, that’s really all you should do.
https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/we-are-the-nhs/allied-health-professionals (a great link that emphasises a high level of skill and training)
https://www.england.nhs.uk/ahp/role/ (more detailed NHS guide to Allied Health)
2. Include The Practicalities
Explain the practicalities of your patient’s treatment. Think about the whole experience from beginning to end and everything someone might need to know:
- How do I book an appointment?
- How do I get there. Is there parking?
- What should I wear?
- Will it hurt?
- What improvements can I expect?
- How many sessions will I need?
- Is there a waiting area?
- What’s the cancellation policy?
- Can you treat my problem?
More important than the practical information they convey, these demonstrate to the reader that you understand where they are and that you will communicate with them in their own language and on their own terms. If your copy is waffly, full of medical jargon I don’t understand and ignores these basic questions, I assume that’s how you are going to communicate with me too, and will be put off of coming for treatment.
3. Show Your Human Side
When I had laser eye surgery 20 years ago, they introduced me to my surgeon before the procedure to “reassure” me. He had a stony and emotionless face and bellowed in a thick Russian accent with heavily rolled Rs, I AM VLADIMIRRR. I AM SURRRGEON. This was the guy I was going to let cut my eyes open with a scalpel whist being fully conscious. I was terrified.
Osteopathy is a very personal treatment, in that it involves you twisting me half-naked into funny shapes, cracking my spine and sticking needles in me. As a patient I’m fine with all the twisting and cracking. Really what we want to know is that you’re someone I’m going to feel comfortable with. Someone normal who I can talk to easily.
Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself a little on your about me section. Include a few sentences about your background, why you got into osteopathy and what you do in your spare time. If you play sports or have a family, mention these too, and include photos of you being you. Show that you’re a well-rounded, normal person who gets on well with others. I will assume I will feel comfortable with you and can ask straightforward questions and get honest and empathetic answers.
4. Understand How We Process Information
Direct marketers realised decades ago that people didn’t read their sales letters from start to finish. If they put a PS, that would be read before anything else, so they reiterated their call to action in there. If they put a fake handwritten note on the letter in a different colour, that would be read before even the PS. The next thing people would read is the subheadings, so putting the main messages in there again made them way more likely to be read.
Many people write sales copy write as though the reader is going to sit down and read the text like a novel, starting at the beginning and working to the end, paying attention to every word you’ve written. But on the internet, we’re constantly scanning the information in front of us and our brains have become adept at figuring out what things are about in the most efficient fashion.
Start with the title and main image only – is it clear what this page is about? Now look at the title, images and captions only. Then the title, images, captions and subheadings. Is it clear what information is on the page? People won’t read all the text you’ve written, but will use the title, images, captions and subheadings as a summary and then dive into the text if any area particularly interests them.
Notice how the images were the second most important thing after the title. Take the time to look for the right image that really tells a thousand words, because the feel of your images will influence the user more than anything you say in your text. For example, an osteopath I work with changed a picture of a woman laying face down on a treatment table with the male osteopath shoving a thumb into her glute, to a picture of an osteopath holding a model spine, explaining something to the listening patient. The first picture makes it all about mechanics, whilst the second makes it all about patient experience.
5. Comply With ASA Guidelines
You’re probably already familiar with the ASA guidelines for osteopaths. Be careful with anything you write, go through the guidelines and ensure you’re staying within the rules. Although most complaints about osteopath websites are resolved without any action taken beyond asking the osteopath to correct it, there’s no point looking for trouble.
And there are people out to get you. The Good Thinking Society have reported over 400 osteopaths to the ASA. Assume they’re looking over your web copy looking for something to report you for when you read your writing back to yourself.
Help is out there though. The ASA will review up to 4 pages of copy for your website completely free of charge, so that’s a great way to get the all-clear on anything you’re not sure about. The iO will also have a look at your copy from a marketing point of view, and have resources with further advice on writing copy for your website.
What I Do
I offer digital marketing services for osteopaths, including writing your website copy. I write text that is appealing, speaks your patient’s language and is guaranteed ASA-compliant (I will submit it for review). Ask to see my previous work.
I’m a web developer who has coded plugins for the WordPress repository and can help you with anything internet or website related, and with marketing your practice online in general. I offer a free web review to explore your market and opportunities.