The face-to-face conversation that health professionals have with their clients is the single most important marketing opportunity for a healthy brand to be a part of. The implicit trust of the client-consumer for the professional-influencer is unmatched, as is the influencer's genuine desire to help the consumer. We spoke with an influencer and PulseConnect member Cheryl Cohen about her work and the types of conversations she has with her patients.
Tell us a little bit about what you do and the types of people you work with.
I’m a nurse practitioner with a background in food and nutrition. For the last five years, I’ve helped adults in New York City hospitals with diabetes or cardiac conditions transition back to the home. After seeing them in the clinic or hospital, I follow up with phone calls and sometimes visit them in their homes. If necessary, I also help them navigate the super markets. It’s so exciting, after they’ve expressed such frustration, to hear about their accomplishments and see them sustain their joy.
Do you think your clients are more vulnerable with you about their diet/exercise struggles than even their best friends or spouses?
Each patient is different. It depends on how much education I give them before they go into the home. If the family members are part of the learning experience and can assist the patient with their diet, shopping, etc., then patients learn a lot more.
Do they come to you confused by conflicting news coverage about nutrition and exercise?
They come with questions. I encourage them to write down their questions, including the sources of their information, and to keep evidence-based journals. I like to believe that if you educate the patient, he is more informed. He’ll ask better questions. No question is too small or too silly because it's something we can explore together.
I also give them a handout when we first meet, which we go through together — me with the patient or me with the patient and his family. After he understands it, we go over the questions from everyone, and then he signs the handout. I get a cop, and he gets a copy. That way I can reference it when he has questions later to remind him that he already knows the information. Patient education is so important — even navigating the Internet. So, for example, we Google “gluten” and see what comes up, we talk through the results and where they’re coming from.
How do you earn the trust of your clients as a health professional? Do they take the advice you give at face value, or do they question you and your methods?
Each patient is different, and I have to earn their trust by speaking to their level of understanding. I always like them to repeat what I tell them, so I know they understand. Anxiety is such a big aspect of their learning. It takes one or two visits to earn their trust. Once we get past the anxiety, they're more accepting of the information I give them.
At Pulse, we value the face-to-face, one-on-one conversations you’re able to have with your clients and our brands’ potential consumers. How often do you get to have those high-value interactions with your clients?
Very often. When we meet in the office, they tend to bring the questions they wrote down. Then they read them to me in a hurry because they know there’s a time restraint, so they rush. That’s why it’s so important to reach them on the phone afterward to follow up…and maybe even go to their home. So, the bulk of my work is one-on-one.
What tests must a product pass before you feel confident in recommending it to your clients?
Mostly, I look at the ingredients and taste the product. Some of the products I get samples of, or I speak with colleagues who have tasted the products.