By Claudio Gormaz
Let’s face it, promoting your practice can get very expensive; and, when nothing comes of your efforts, you want to scream. Also, you need your advertising to succeed; because every day that you open your doors for business, your competitors are actively and aggressively marketing to your patients.
Every time your ad falls flat, you are leaving the door open a little bit wider for your competitors to come in and take your patients.
So, what you do about it? That is the point of this article. The goal is to show you very specific strategies to turn your shortcomings into profitable assets.
To begin with, the secret of writing better advertising and promotional pieces is that there is no secret!
Keep in mind one vital principle: “Advertising is not an art form, it’s a medium for information, a message with a single purpose: to sell.” —David Ogilvy
The sole purpose of advertising is to generate higher profits for your medical services. Primarily, your ad must be a salesman in print (either actual or digital). It needs to be a compelling and convincing message that draws the viewer in further to explore what you have to offer.
Honestly, unless your ad persuades the prospect to pick up the phone and come into your clinic, your ad is useless.
An impotent ad is hazardous to your medical practice on two levels: if it doesn’t draw patients, your bottom line is adversely affected immediately; and, not only has your ad not pulled patients in, but now your competition has free range to appeal and entice your patient.
On a fundamental level, advertising is communicating. The objective of promotion consists of putting together a series of components that draw a person’s attention and keeps their interests long enough to take in your entire message. In all, we’re talking about six essential elements which, when strung together correctly, can produce significant profits and separation from your competitors.
As we’ve mentioned a couple of times, every day there is a constant competition to acquire a finite number of available new patients. With few exceptions, most businesses are constrained, to one degree or another, by geography and demographics. Said another way, you don’t have an infinite number of possible patients from which to provide your services. You need to compel and attract as many of the available patients in your area as possible.
As stated earlier, your advertising needs to be able to grab someone’s attention immediately (and not let go). In advertising terms, this vehicle for capturing focus goes by the name of your headline.
You will notice that up to 95% of all ads have no headline (which is excellent news for you). Countless numbers of marketing surveys point out this most valuable statistic, 80% of all the readers only read headlines. The use of a properly designed headline is the main ingredient in your advertising that makes it so powerful that it can increase your ads power by as much as 2000%.
The father of modern-day advertising, David Ogilvy, verified this exact point when he said: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Once you set up your headline, now it’s time to create your sub-headline which appears directly under the headline. The text is typically smaller, and it gives more insight into the service you are providing, while further outlining why the patient should care enough to keep reading.
These last two statements tend to sound mechanical and ethereal, even a bit “highfalutin.” To an advertising geek like me, concepts like headlines and sub-headlines are like fine wines where bouquet and body are greatly appreciated; but, to anyone outside of advertising they may be thinking “What are you talking about?”
Marketing should be a straightforward process; so, we will approach it in this manner: Your patients have a problem which they don’t want; but, there is a result they want but don’t have. Your ad must solve these two needs by delivering a message so compelling it practically forces your current and future patients to buy your services.
Your advertising needs to Interpret your patient’s needs, Engage so as to lead towards an answer, Educate them on the benefits of your service and Offer a solution.
The Interpret portion covers your headline—which means it’s the first thing someone sees when they visit your website, read any of your marketing material, or hear you speak. Your headline MUST address the problem your patients have that they don’t want.
For example, “Not happy and want to improve your look, but you’re concerned about a botched procedure?”
The Engage aspect is your sub-headline. It MUST address the result your prospect wants but doesn’t have.
For example: “Learn how to spot and avoid non-board-certified plastic surgeons, and rest at ease knowing that you’re in the hands of a trained professional!”
The Educate component is the information you provide—evidence to all patients that you and your service are superior (your brand) in every way to your competition. You achieve this through the following:
- Provide specific benefits for working with you. Interesting fact, we’re all motivated by the same thing, we all buy based on our self-interests. Therefore the person reading your ad only cares about “What’s in it for them?” The only thing they want to know is “how will your service benefit them?”
- Have an offer. It is incredible how few promotional pieces feature any offer or incentive to use the company’s services immediately. It is shocking because you’re hiring “trained and knowledgeable advertising professionals,” and they should-know-better—kind of like hiring a non-board-certified doctor to perform a procedure.
Why is this important? If you provide any one of the following to current and potential patients: free special report (like the “Learn how to spot and avoid non-board-certified plastic surgeons…” referenced above), very informative recorded message, free consultation, free valuable product/service coupons, or special price inducements, etc. Numerous marketing studies over the years show that making an offer increases response by as much as 400%. The offers you provide set you/your clinic apart from your competition.
- Have a particular incentive: Offer your reader a free booklet, recorded message, or free gift. This technique creates motivational points for the patients to call now. The idea is that you want to make it irresistible for prospective patients to select your clinic; and by default, turned their backs on your competition.
- Have testimonials: This is one of the most effective advertising strategies, yet so under-utilized. What satisfied patients say about your practice is more important than what you say about yourself.
A medical practice that is professional, diligent and forthright in their dealings with their patients should have stacks of letters and comments from satisfied patients. Too often, these pieces of gold remain hidden away for years in the filing cabinet. Why, when you want your potential new patients to know how they too can benefit from your services?
Since testimonials are so seldom used, it’s become a well-kept secret resulting in enormous profits for advertisers who take advantage of the immense power and celebrity that comes from the use of these testimonials. The technique works wonders for your reputation management strategy.
You should be framing your testimonial letters to the halls and waiting area of your practice. You should also be videotaping these testimonials (about two minutes in length or so) and featuring them in your office, the landing page of your website, and depending on your advertising platform, including those videos in your ads. Be sure to make these videos patient-centric; in other words, from the viewpoint of the patients’ benefit and concerns, and not yours as the doctor.
According to the CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff: “A brand is a company’s most important asset. A company can’t ‘own’ its facts. If the company’s facts (speed, price, quality) are superior to the competition, any good competitor will duplicate them, or worse, improve upon them, as soon as possible. What a company can own, however, is a personality.”
Finally, your Offer (the solution): You MUST create a compelling offer that makes it so irresistible your patients can’t turn it down. When you provide your solution, also include your money back guarantee policy clearly and proudly.
Patients may be nervous; especially ones that have never done business with you before. Most practices have excellent guarantees. Patients need to know you stand behind your services. By reversing the risk, you assure patients they’ve made a wise decision, and if for any reason your service does not live up to their expectations, they can get satisfaction.
Call-to-action: The call-to-action typically appears at the end of an advertisement and is used to add a sense of urgency. It should instruct patients what steps they should take to purchase your service. Providing a recorded message is the most effective and non-intimidating tool available to you (people don’t want to be “pitched”).
Fortunately, for you, MOST clinics don’t appear any different from their competitors (to the naked eye), and that’s why you MUST innovate your business to create a market-dominating position.
To build a stellar reputation and create a winning ad, you MUST make your practice unique; it MUST stand out from the crowd. It MUST convince your patients to say to themselves: “It would be a colossal mistake not to use Dr. ABC!”
I know that there is a lot to absorb. You may not have time to take on yet one more task. Maybe this will help? We have been directly responsible for many highly successful promotional campaigns for over two decades. I would like to extend an invitation to you; we will gift you our exclusive 15-minute Content Strategy Audit Session and review your current promotional piece and make vital suggestions. Just give us a call.
Claudio Gormaz, along with business partner Steve Cox, are medical marketing strategists. They have worked with the medical community for over 2 decades. Many prominent practices in the country have benefited from their promotional strategies, developed fruitful and predictable advertising messages, as well as creating solid branding platforms while elevating their resident expert status. They are also highly accomplished business storytellers converting the complex into memorable narratives. They can be contacted via 530-492-9971, StevenVonLoren Marketing Strategists, or their personal emails: [email protected] and [email protected].