As an advertising agency we are always approached with a common question amongst DC Medical practices…”I’ve been in business for so long, why should I advertise?” We always answer their question with a question…”Have you ever heard of an international fast-food chain that uses Golden Arches as their trademark…and go by the name McDonald’s?” Their response is always a “yes” and it usually comes with a smile, knowing that our next comment will be…”so why do they still advertise?” The truth is that if McDonald’s never spent a single dollar in advertising, people across the world would still know who they are. However, it has taken the McDonald’s company, since their first television campaigns in 1963, decades to produce such a worldwide recognizable model and yet they STILL ADVERTISE!
So then “Why advertise?” As a DC practice you have a “product” that can benefit your clients, both existing and potential. What do they know about you? Does the community your business resides in know anything about your practice? How can your practice make their lives better or promote a healthier lifestyle? Let’s be honest, long-gone are the days of a single practice in a “one store town.” Everywhere we look people are moving in or out of cities, patients pass away, new businesses are still starting up (even in our current economy) and not to mention the future DCs that are graduating every year…in the thousands. If you don’t think you have competition, then it is fair to say that you have been left behind.
There are many effective media outlets to successfully promote your practice. Planning the right strategy and implementing it effectively will always work. However, the most important factor in any media campaign is to track your marketing dollars. If you are not taking the time to sit down at least once a week and gauge your advertising efforts, then you are throwing your money away. Don’t be afraid to make media changes in the middle of your campaign. Look to see what outlet(s) are creating a better return on your investment and stay there. If one or more media outlets are not producing the results you need, cancel them and move on to an outlet that is better suited for your practice. Every media outlet should give you a two week clause to get out. This is where utilizing an advertising agency is effective. An advertising agency which specializes in medical practices will have checks and balances in place and will faithfully keep you abreast of all your marketing dollars, especially advising if any changes need to be made.
Television advertising can be the most effective tool when promoting your practice. A false expectation is that TV advertising is very expensive and unaffordable for many doctors. A strategic advertising plan can place you in front of thousands of viewers, on the right show for a minimal amount. As an agency, we’ve seen clients execute an effective TV campaign for as little as $500. Here is the catch…it was an agency who made the media purchase. An agency should always work effectively to get you the best rates possible and disclose them to you. Nine times out of ten, an agency will have better rates for your practice than you can get on your own.
What about a commercial? Don’t be afraid to lend a helping hand in your creative commercial. It is your practice and you should try to convey it with as much integrity as you can in a 30 second commercial. However, let me be very honest here…NOT every doctor needs to come out in their commercial. Your presence as a professional in person is completely different than your presence on camera or on television. Do not fall into “it’s my practice and I want to be in the commercial” syndrome…you, on camera, can actually hurt your business if the commercial doesn’t agree with you. Again, always seek the advice of professionals and allow them to guide you, they should have years of experience in this matter. Give them the message you want to convey and let them determine how the message will be promoted.
The internet is one of the most impactful tools currently used in our business strategy. It has replaced local yellow pages advertising. Yellow page advertising, even if you were on the back cover of one, is no longer effective like once before. Think, when was the last time you used your local yellow pages to search for a restaurant or a local business? Internet presence is a non-negotiable tool your practice must have, regardless of your years in practice. The internet can also help you track who is looking at your website, capture their information and send them email campaigns about your practice. This somewhat new technology of capturing someone’s specific internet interest is called Advanced Target Marketing and literally follows the habits of a person on the internet who is looking for a practice like yours. There are also many other ways to utilize internet placement and advertising. Being on the right page, for the right demographic and at the right time of day is crucial. In other words, having a link on a local gas station’s website most likely won’t get very many hits. When planning an internet campaign always keep in mind the amount of impressions you want to target and if those impressions fall into your target market.
Social networking, Facebook and Twitter to be specific, has come and changed the way we keep in touch with family and friends. It has also developed into a tool that we use every day in how we send messages to each other, communicate what we like or dislike, or refer someone to. Creating a Facebook page for your practice is free but it isn’t enough to do just that. You must commit yourself or someone in your office to a couple of hours a week to keep your page updated and fresh. Invite friends and patients to like your page and request other business pages as friends. You aren’t looking to see how many friends you can claim, but instead how to effectively get your practice name out to your community. Advertising on Facebook has also become an effective way to brand your practice.
Quick Response codes (QR) are specific bar codes that are readable by smartphones. QR codes are now the hot thing in media. These easy-to-generate boxes can be placed on just about any type of printed media where people can scan them with their smart phones and be sent directly to your website. A QR code is a low-cost addition to a campaign, and it’s a great way to get potential clients to interact directly with your practice/website. Here is a side note on smartphones: U.S. smartphone penetration is expected to hit 50 percent by the end of this year, according to Nielsen. There are currently 73.3 million smartphone users, according to eMarketer. A recent survey by the marketing firm MGH found that 72 percent of smartphone users said they would likely recall an ad with a QR code. Seventy percent said they planned to use a QR code again or for the first time.
Utilizing a media agency will help to communicate your practice to the public and help you with all of your marketing plans. They will also take the time to understand your practice and who your customers are, their age and gender and where to successfully reach them. Most agencies already have marketing pieces in place, including media buying, TV commercials and print ads…the tools you will need to create a successful marketing campaign. Let them do all the work as they have the specific expertise. Look for one that specializes in medical practices and watch your business grow.
William Salazar is the founder and CEO of the Vallejo Media Agency, a full-service, bi-lingual agency that specializes in medical practices. The agency focuses on building successful campaigns while educating its clients on current media outlets. For more information go to www.vallejoagency.com; or email [email protected].