Many doctors and practitioners advertise their services in newspapers and magazines in an attempt to attract new patients. Many rely on the “expertise” of the writers and layout artists at the publication and some simply create their own do-it-yourself print ads. But how effective will these ads be? And how will you know?
How well do print media staff writers and layout artists understand the unique needs of healthcare marketing? How effective are do-it-yourself print ads at gaining desired results? Unfortunately, the results are typically quite disappointing. Even worse, most practitioners do not track (or know how to track) the results of the ads they run and thus have only a vague sense about whether their ads are working or not. In marketing as in healthcare, having a vague sense of something isn’t good enough. You need real data and facts.
To help you avoid wasting money on ads that are neither expertly done nor effective, here are some basic tips for creating a more effective print ad in any medium:
- Your headline needs to be bigger and bolder than the rest of the text.
- Your headline MUST communicate a benefit to the patient. Your practice name has no inherent benefit to the patient, so NEVER put your practice name or logo at the top of your ad. Think about what your potential new patient wants or needs from you (e.g. relief from pain, return to function, improved function, etc.) and build a headline around that.
- Symmetry may be a desirable feature of the human body, but it’s an effectiveness-killer in a print ad. A perfectly symmetrical ad is boring and static to look at.
- Make your ads more dynamic and interesting to look at by moving elements around (flush right, flush left, centered, etc.) to lead the reader’s eye to your name and phone number at the bottom.
- Include a photo or image of one or more people. A photo of you and your staff is fine if you are all attractive, friendly and approachable looking. A stock photograph of a person or small group of people enjoying some activity that represents the happy end-result of your care is even better.
- Include an offer. This could be a free or complimentary screening, helpful information or something similar that attracts the specific type of patient you most want in your practice.
- Contrary to popular opinion, white or empty space in an ad is actually a GOOD thing. Instead of cluttering your ad with graphic and text elements, leave some white space around your call to action, offer or contact information because that’s where you want the reader’s eyes to rest.
If you follow these tips, you will dramatically improve your odds of having a more effective print ad and better results. If your staff diligently tracks every new call that comes in to your practice, you’ll dramatically improve your odds of KNOWING whether or not your ad is working.
Due to the multiple sources of marketing (both online and offline), tracking incoming calls is more important today than ever. We will discuss healthcare online marketing in future blog posting and how to avoid wasting time and money on search engine optimization and social media.