Ivan Delman, DC provides several tips on how to deliver what you advertise for your practice.
This article actually started out as a simple tip on how to better place a graphic or headline in a newspaper or other printed media ad. By the time I fi nished my research, an article had replaced my tip. Before we get into our advertising discussion, we should recognize that any strong advertising program will be governed by a solid marketing plan (see the other articles on marketing). Advertising is a cumulative effort; that is, repetition and consistency are important keys to the effectiveness of your advertising program. On the other hand, you don’t have to be much smarter than a bag full of hammers to realize that if you can’t deliver what you advertise, you’re wasting your advertising dollars.
Walk Your Talk
Our practice advertised minimal waiting for patients with appointments. If we ran late, one of us would go out to the reception area and explain the situation. Staff would also keep me advised if I was talking too much and falling behind or whatever the reason for the late schedule. There were times I walked into the reception area just to apologize and promise to get to them as soon as possible. If you advertise that you have emergency service, then an emergency patient should be able to get in touch with you. When you get that emergency call, it’s imperative, at the minimum, to call that patient or patient-to-be and determine the possible problem. It is a great service to open up your offi ce on a weekend. The ripples of your extra-service attitude will quickly spread. Even when we were out of town, we’d return an emergency call. Most of the time, it entailed a conversation, some basic advice and a follow-up call. Invariably, an appointment would be set for the next work day. If the condition sounded serious, the emergency patient was referred to a standby chiropractor or other physician. We rarely lost a patient as a client, and the patients were satisfied with our case management.
Looking at Some Carats
With that said, let’s examine several facets of that huge diamond called successful advertising.
We’re going to take a look at:
• Your audience
• The difference between features and benefits
• Standing out from the crowd
Your typical reading audience will rapidly skip through the newspaper during their week. On weekends, even if they take more time reading the Sunday paper, they’ll still skim over your newspaper ad. In fact, over 75 percent of all your reading audience will simply jump over any and all ads, including yours—unless something in your ad catches their eye.
A picture will catch the eye of the reader who normally would skip over an ad with only words. Therefore, it’s prudent to place an appealing picture or graphic in your ad. There are many excellent and professional-looking chiropractically oriented pictures available if you don’t want to make your own.
Some docs will put their own picture in their advertising. This works well if you have a pleasant, friendly and professional visage. My research indicates that docs with facial hair do not fare as well in first-impression advertising as their bare-faced colleagues. This seems especially true for the professionals who have a small beard or goatee accompanying their mustaches.
Therefore, regarding your audience, keep in mind that they are busy readers who generally don’t get past the headlines of most of the over 300 headlines in the typical newspaper. Unless your headline catches their eye, they will also skip right over your ad.
Benefits vs. Features
We’ve all heard it before and repeatedly. When we present a proposition to our consumers, they’ll want to hear about benefits, not features. Their primary thought is, “Where’s my benefit?”
We should take this cue and when we put together our advertising, talk about benefits. Do we?
Here are some examples of the difference between features and benefits. I mentioned earlier that we advertised minimal waiting time for our patients. If we state that our patients have a minimal waiting time before they are seen by the doctor, that’s a feature.
If we advertise that our patients have minimal waiting time before they are seen by the doctor so they can get on with the rest of their business that day, that’s a benefit.
If your fees are reasonable, that’s a feature. If your fees are reasonable, allowing them to save money for their other necessities, that’s a benefit.
Advertising your gentle adjustment technique is a feature. If you add to that statement that your special technique is easy and comfortable for your patients, that’s a benefit.
Here’s how to easily determine the differences between the two: Place yourself in your patient’s position and ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” The answer will make the difference more obvious.
Standing Out From the Crowd
Many of us would just as soon be part of the crowd than otherwise. We usually have a tendency toward conservative, “professional” behavior. This attitude also applies to our advertising.
Even the largest companies in the world with the strongest name recognition only devote part of their advertising efforts to traditional, conservative advertising. The rest of their budgets are spent on the cutting-edge.
The purpose of advertising is to gain the attention of the reader. If you hide in the printed corner of your advertising media, you’ll be overlooked and ignored. The advertising community will rightly decide you’re operating with a few feathers short of a whole duck.
It’s tricky trying to put together an advertisement that screams a little, but in a polite and professional manner. This is a fine line to follow. The task is as difficult to accomplish as trying to tell your unpolished receptionist (diplomatically) that the only time she seems to open her mouth is to change shoes.
Please keep in mind that you must blow your horn to tell others about yourself and, at the same time, not deafen them in the process. Just be certain that when you blow your horn, its sound is unique and different from the rest of the band’s. The crowd will then notice you.
Someone (who had too much time on their hands) in the advertising industry performed a study and discovered that we are swamped with over 1,000 ad impressions every day. I’m certain we’re not surprised; however, this makes the case for an effective headline even stronger.
Your headline should summarize the message within your ad copy. Also, try to keep that headline down around 20 words or less. Assess your unique talents and state them in your ads, especially your headlines.
Your headline should be meaningful, not cute. An example of cute might be, “If Doctor XXXXX can keep movie star Rod Hunk healthy, why not you?”
More meaningful might be, “Movie star Rod Hunk can perform movie stunts more easily thanks to the sports chiropractic training of Dr. XXXXX.”
Lastly, the thought that resulted in this article…A great way to catch the eye of your reader is to place a photo or your headline at a 45 degree angle to the rest of your ad. This will catch the attention of the average reader who normally scans in a horizontal line. Your ad will have a much better chance at being noticed.
Now, if you have trouble remembering any of the above points, try memorizing the following advertising limerick:
“Tell me quick and tell me trueOr else, dear friend, the heck with you!Not how this product came to beBut what the darn thing does for me!”
by Ivan Delman, DC. Reprinted with permission from Do Write Publishing.
Dr. Delman is the author of the book The Business of Chiropractic: How to Prosper AFTER Startup. He has degrees in both business and chiropractic. After 38 years of enjoyable, productive work in both fields, he and his wife have retired to travel and write. He can be contacted at: [email protected].
Dr. Chris Clark, a chiropractor and consultant, purchased Do Write Publishing and Business of Chiropractic Publications in 2007. For more ways to improve your practice, visit www.businessofchiropractic.com.