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November 29, 2007
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Selling the Sizzle in Your EAP

Most EAP communication is designed for one purpose: to drive up utilization. Utilization is the lifeblood of EAPs. It’s what permits their survival.

If you were an employee with a personal problem, which of the following two messages in a brochure would be more likely to motivate you to make the call?

A. The EAP is available 24 hours a day, seven day a week, to help employees and family members with any personal problems, including mental health issues, marital problems, family problems, financial and legal issues, alcohol or drug abuse problems, and more.


B. The EAP will help you get past the roadblocks to better communication with family members. We will help you uncover answers to struggles you’ve faced in your marriage, your relationships, or with your children. We will help you discover a financial plan that works to resolve the debt issues that you face. And we will show you how to take the best steps toward helping a spouse or a family member caught in the revolving door of alcoholism or drug addiction. If you are depressed, we help you find the cause and help you regain the energy and the excitement that you once had for life. No struggle you face is larger than our mission to help.

If you chose the second option above, most experts on the subject of “getting people to take action” would agree with you. Why?

The second paragraph focuses on emotions and benefits; the first paragraph focuses instead on the EAP features (programs). In the “putting the cart before the horse” scenario, the programs are the cart. The horse is the emotions and the personal attention. These must come first for you to achieve your EAP utilization goals.

If you are a therapist or mental health professional, you already know what I am telling you to be true.

The problem is that focusing on EAP’s offer of help rather than on individuals’ feelings and needs is an easy mistake to make when you are very close to your “product.”

This is not just the information age. It is the “attention age.” You are in competition to get attention, not just to supply information to others. If you realize this objective in your marketing, you will discover a new world of activity and enjoyment in your work, with less worry about losing your program.

Now read the two paragraphs again, and compare them to your EAP brochures. Which one is more like yours?

Are you planning new materials and collaterals for next year? Be sure to focus on benefits. Use emotional, compelling language that provides an irresistible draw to those who face specific problems and concerns.

For help, pick up a copy of the book Words that Sell by Richard Bayan. In it, you will discover a collection of wonderful words for phrases, grabbers, benefits, and descriptions that you can plug into your materials.

Although there may be little mention of this type of "marketing" in our profession, this is the type of information that will help contribute to EAP viability because it communicates hope. That is what employees want before they will act on the solutions you offer. Start where the client is at—even in EAP promotion.

Dedicated to Your Effective EAP,

Dan Feerst, LISW-CP, CEAP

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