This week, I discovered that you can learn a business/blogging lesson just about anywhere. This last week we had a new addition to our family! My wife, the baby, and I were in the hospital for the duration of the week after the birth. While there, I learned an interesting lesson about making sure your sales pitch matched your message.
Three years ago when we were at the same hospital giving birth to our son, one of the things that we remembered was that the hospital gave us a lot of free things for the baby. They provided us a diaper bag, formula, binkies, and tons of other goodies to help us along with the baby.
This time around, the staff was just as friendly and professional, but they told us they couldn't supply us with certain items due to hospital policy.
They first told us this when the baby was fussy at night and my wife asked them for a binky to see if it would quiet her down. The nurse told us, “I'm sorry, the hospital has become baby friendly so they don't allow us to give binkies anymore.”
At the time, I was too busy to give this any thought, but later on, I was a bit confused. How is it more baby friendly to not give a crying baby a binky? The nurse was very friendly and apologetic, but I didn't get what she meant by the phrase baby friendly. In a way, I got a sense that the statement had more to do with some change in the hospital policy than being actually baby friendly.
I heard this phrase a couple more times during our stay. When we asked for attachments for the breast pump (they gave us these last time). Again we heard the phrase that the hospital was being “baby friendly” and no longer supply those. Again the nurse was apologetic and I got a vague sense that she truly was sorry that they couldn't supply us.
By then I had realized that “baby friendly” was a catch phrase they had taught the nurses to use to explain to the parents why we no longer received extras. Essentially, it was sales copy with the purpose of making parents feel better about the new hospital policy. However, I just didn't understand how the new policy was “baby friendly.” The words simply had a meaning that seemingly clashed with the actions. Afterall, how was it more baby friendly to stop giving gifts?
It wasn't until the last day that a new nurse explained to us that baby friendly meant that the hospital no longer took sponsors from the various vendors, so they did not have those items to give away. It was their effort to ensure that vendors were not taking advantage of new parents to try and sell stuff. It was really an effort to be “parent friendly” or perhaps “privacy friendly.”
I realized that the hospital had made a change that they felt would be better overall for the privacy of the parents, but they felt the change might not be well received. So they came up with a feel good catch phrase to try and pitch as nicely as possible. Frankly, I liked the non-sales explanation better.
In my mind, I feel that the Hospital's sales copy had the opposite effect on me when their message didn't match their meaning. It just had the feeling of being a sales pitch, but I didn't know what they were selling. And when the message doesn't jibe I think it likely might make the customers feel distrustful.
Actually, the hospital policy was for a good purpose. When it was explained to me, I understood it perfectly. I would have been satisfied with their explanation. They were making a strong effort to be extra mindful of patient privacy and trying to be more family friendly by making sure we were not inundated by vendors.
Overall, I think this is an important lesson in making sure that your sales copy actually matches the message that you want to convey to your customers. Being honest is better than sugar coating too much and risk turning away the customer.
This just goes to show that one can learn new lessons in just about every setting.
As a final note, the baby and mommy are now at home and doing great! My son is really enjoying being a new big brother and all is well.