If you're reading this article in hopes of getting more calls, increasing your income, and growing your client list [with the whole ‘changing lives’ thing just as a bonus] in order to make your admissions quota-- stop right here. This article isn’t for you.
Ferdinand de Saussure wrote the book on messaging. Literally. His work on semiotics and linguistics is considered the foundation for the study of symbols, language, and meaning. The theorist once eloquently and poetically stated that without language, thought is a vague and uncharted nebula.
We emphasize in our marketing campaigns, admissions scripts, and clinical therapy groups in recovery, that words hold a lot of meaning. Cliches, specific terms, tools we learn from cognitive or dialectical behavioral therapy try and relate the vastness of the sober recovery life to people struggling to get through even just one hour of it. Making use of those symbols helps us to communicate the message of recovery through the channel of treatment.
Hope. Faith. Belief. Strength. Confidence. Safety. Independence. Freedom. Recovery.
The words we choose manifest that vague and uncharted nebula every time we use them. For an industry so heavily focused on the nuances of neuroscience and psychotherapy, we are all keenly aware of the indisputable fact that words indeed carry weight.
Words can also create change. Words can inspire. Words can rally up millions of people and ignite their passion, encouraging them to take action. When it comes to the recovery and treatment industry especially, the power of words can save lives.
You can impact people with your words at every level of treatment, especially these three: clinical, admissions, and marketing. Within your job, whatever your job in this industry is, you have the unique privilege to be a game changer in someone’s life because you are constantly talking to clients. Every day you are likely to connect with someone who is in need. Words can create change. Words can save lives. Your words are those words.
Marketing is about more than words. As we all know interacting with the often stubborn disease of addiction, words can fall short if there is no action behind them. Your call to action is to get people to reach out and contact your facility. What are those people’s call to action for you? We have a responsibility to do more with a marketing campaign. Not only do we have that responsibility, we have the full capacity.
It’s about utilizing effective altruism through your marketing campaign to create change, inspire recovery, and maybe save a life.
What’s Effective Altruism Have To Do With Marketing?
According to effectivealtruism.org (that must be official, right?), “Effective altruism is about answering one simple question: how can we use our resources to help others the most?”
The average treatment facility website is going to get about 10,000 unique visitors per month. Your website is going to get ten times more people simply viewing it than you will get conversions of people contacting your facility via admissions, online chat, email inquiries, or walking through the door.
What message are you sending to those thousands of other visitors who aren’t taking action to contact you? Are you writing them off as unqualified or are you being understanding of where they’re at in their process? Not everyone is ready for treatment. Fact is, no matter how targeted your marketing is, the majority of people visiting your website are in the discovery/research phase. They need to hear your words, be taught what recovery is all about and understand how recovery can impact their life.
Using your website and all of your content marketing components as tools for effective altruistic marketing is the most scalable way you can help people. Don’t neglect the 90% of people visiting your website that aren’t converting. Help guide them by being your truly altruistic and best self. If it's done authentically, you’ll be surprised how much that ends up creating loyal fans, brand ambassadors and yes, clients.
Sure, you want people to see your Facebook advertisements, read your website blogs, and double tap your Instagram posts so that they call your admissions hotline and ask for help. You’re using your resources, your income, your profit, to build a marketing campaign to get admissions. But how much are you focusing on using those resources to help others the most? Bet you didn’t realize there’s a difference.
Answering questions about effective altruism and your intents with marketing is a moot effort unless you are willing to take action. All too many of us in this industry are familiar with endless meetings full of great ideas that never come to fruition. Sadly, those ideas could be exactly what your company needs to fulfill the needs of more people. EffectiveAltruism.org explains that “effective altruism is about following through. It’s about being generous with your time and your money to do the most good you can.”
Altruistic Marketing For Recovery
Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for life. This is the foundational philosophy of altruism.
You can give someone a phone number for your treatment center and maybe they will call. You can offer them all the lies, false promises, and mirage dreams about your facility in order to try to get that admission... but here’s a little secret. People see through that and it doesn’t work. Especially not in the long run.
Gearing all of your content toward helping people is the key to not just effective marketing but effective altruistic marketing. Your goal is to make each person feel as though they are known, acknowledged, and understood, and to position yourself as an expert in your field as well as their needs. Creating this content requires you to specify your target audience while still creating a universal message of recovery.
● If you are reaching out to professionals in the space, use your content to lead by example through ethical demonstration and expertise.
● If you are a family-focused treatment facility, you may want to offer a word of comfort and encouragement to loved ones. Or better yet empower them through education how to address these early stage issues themselves. Use your content as short guidance sessions and help them visualize the dream of a substance-free future with their loved ones.
● When you are speaking directly to those living with addiction, those who are out there struggling every moment of the day, you want to help them find that precious willingness to be willing to get sober. Give them basic tools and some baby steps to follow. Show them what the recovery community is really all about.
And don’t be boring about it. Engaging content isn’t just another Facebook post. Get creative and think outside the box:
● Make videos (often)
● Create a live Q&A on Twitter or Facebook Live (even Instagram has Live now)
● Stir up PR when you do community outreach
● Design an ebook for specific addictions and services you provide Better yet, create a library of ebooks that are specifically geared towards helping an individual with his or her specific needs (interventions 101, how to tell if your child is addicted, how to choose a treatment program, what is the process of detox, what is the continuum of care look like, etc)
● Host online meetings and webinars (don’t forget to record and distribute these later)
● Take a GoPro on your next adventure outing - show off your culture and the culture of self care
● Get them to subscribe to your emails. No, not just so you can pitch them on admitting when your census is low. Create a drip email campaigns that are specific to their unique needs and interests. Be intelligent about the best way you can help them get sober, regardless of whether or not they end up in your facility
It comes down to this: are you using your content marketing for promoting sobriety or are you using it to sell your facility?
No matter what your target audience is or what services you provide, your content marketing is an opportunity to tell your unique story – because in recovery, everyone has one. Additionally, your marketing messages are a chance to convey your mission and let people know that you aren’t just there to fight for their co-pay, you’re there to fight for their lives.
Maybe each client will stay sober if they come to your center and complete your program. At this point, we all know that we can’t give people recovery. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. We can offer people an opportunity to learn how to create recovery for themselves. Teach someone what it means to be sober and you might change their lives, even if they don't call your phone line or attend one of your programs.
Unfortunately, this is where too many stop caring. If people aren’t going to call, if people aren’t going to admit, then what is the point behind putting our special messaging into so much marketing effort?
Maybe they won’t call today.
Maybe they won’t call tomorrow.
Maybe they won’t call for a couple of years.
But after they see your words of inspiration, your guidance, your tips, your encouragements, they can’t forget them. It could be that one Instagram meme, that one Facebook video, or that one blog post you share that plants the seed they need to believe they can get sober and recover.
Chances are, if you're creating an altruistic marketing message, you're going to get that call. In fact, you're probably going to get many. And if you are putting that kind of authentic compassion into your marketing campaigns, you’re probably putting it into your treatment programs. And if you’re putting it into your treatment programs, then you’re putting it into your clients. And if you’re putting it into your clients, there’s a better chance they’re going to stay sober. There’s even a good chance they’re going to stay sober for the rest of their lives. That’s the funnel of altruism.
That’s effective altruistic marketing for recovery. It isn’t about numbers. It isn’t about admits. It’s about changing, inspiring, and saving lives.
After all, the Big Book is just a bunch of words, right? Yet it has changed millions of lives, maybe even yours. Words carry weight and words impact all of us. Use your words in a scalable and effectively autistic way. Use them to help your other 9,000 website visitors reading your content to find hope and long term sobriety.
About West Jones:
West Jones draws his inspiration from the world he sees around him- good and bad. Technology is changing the world and West Jones wants to see that happen for good. Self-taught and self-disciplined, West Jones started his career at the age of 17, founding his first startup at 18. With great pleasure, West works every day and devotes himself to accomplishing his goals, both professional, personal and altruistic.
Today, West is the founder of Incredible Marketing, a digital marketing agency currently serving the treatment industry including recovery centers, sober living, detox facilities, private physicians, and more. West’s passion project, AddictionRecovery.com helps addicts and their families find the help they need when time is of the essence.
In everything West does, from marketing to traveling, he keeps his eyes and heart open to the needs of the world around him. His developed insight and unique perspective frequently attracts offers to speak at industry conferences around the world. As an entrepreneur, altruist, and creativist, West lives with a simple philosophy: life is too short not to enjoy it and too valuable not to help others enjoy it more.