Why You Should Stop Doing Brand Advertising for Your Practice — Immediately!

You might have seen some of the ads for the new Calvin Klein campaign that launched early last week — pictures of a highly tattooed, half-naked Justin Bieber wrapped provocatively with a model. When I was in New York this weekend the images were plastered everywhere. So the question is, can Justin Bieber help Calvin Klein sell more tighty whities? The rumored $45+ million endorsement deal CK is paying him says absolutely. What’s this got to do with clinical marketing? Actually, a great deal. Branding your practice in a way that’s memorable and makes you stand out from your competition is critical. Yet how do you do it, without dumping hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars into developing a brand for your practice that people actually remember? You will be very relieved to know that it’s NOT by running ads like this — brand ads, which Fortune 500 companies invest hundreds of millions of dollars in running every year. You simply don’t have the budget or the time that it takes to build a global brand using good old brand advertising.

Your advertising has to work a heck of a lot harder for you than making people feel warm and fuzzy, in the hopes that when they do need to buy a pair of undershorts, they’ll hopefully be thinking your brand.

You need consults booked and treatments paid for. Today. Not some time in the future. In other words, the marketing you invest in for your practice needs to bring you instant and measurable results, as quickly as possible. But that’s not the way brand advertising works.

Brand advertising is the least effective way to advertise your practice, for many important reasons:

  1. Brand advertising isn’t measurable. How do you actually know which of your ads are working? Quite simply, you don’t. It’s like taking a big bucket of money and throwing it into a deep, dark hole. You’ve got no idea if it’s working or not — you just hope something does. Hope is a terrible marketing strategy for your practice.
  2. Brand advertising is extremely costly. The whole premise of brand advertising is — if you get your name out there enough times, in front of enough people — when they think they’re ready to improve their appearance, they’ll remember you, look up your details and call. Wow. That’s asking a lot. First of all, brand advertising is getting less and less effective, and more and more expensive. It’s easier than ever to block ads, fast forward, click away, turn the page. And there are more things vying for your patients’ attention than ever — an 880% increase in the number of ads your patients see during a 24-hour period, over just the last 3 years. This fact alone should make you run from brand advertising and look for a better solution (see below).
  3. Brand advertising doesn’t get you more patients today. When a patient sees your ad, there’s no fire lit underneath them to go running to the phone and call to book a consult. This means that when you run an ad, you have no idea when a patient might take action and call. Orif they even will. In my book, that’s simply not good enough. As a business owner, the only reason you invest in marketing is tomake more money. Ideally, every $1 you send out in the way of marketing repays itself and brings at least $1 more back — a 2:1 ROI. With brand advertising, you have no way to measure your ROI, and no way to know when patents will call. That’s just not good enough — especially if you’re trying to boost response during a typically slow period.

So, have I convinced you yet to stop throwing away your marketing dollars on brand advertising? The next time you advertise in a magazine or newspaper, or on TV, stop and think. The media company “kindly” offers to create your ad for you for “free” — 99.9% of the time they will create a brand ad for you — and will typically accompany it with some words to you, along these lines: “You have to run your ad at least a few times to build market awareness.” Are your alarm bells ringing? Can you see why they do this now?

So what’s the better alternative to brand advertising? How else can you create a memorable, head-turning brand that makes your competition envious?

The simple answer is to start using direct response marketing as the core of your clinical marketing strategy. What is direct response marketing? It is advertising that is 100% measurable and trackable, because it elicits a direct response from your patients. Providing a special offer with an expiration date is about the most basic kind of direct response marketing you can do. But to be truly effective, your ads really have to stand out and look completely different from those of your competition.

This means not using the same old boring offers your competition uses (e.g. Free Consults!) And the branding of your ad — the way your ad looks — is critically important, too. The more different you can make your ad look, the more it will get noticed and the higher your response rate will be.

You don’t need a half-naked Justin Bieber in your ads to get them noticed and responded to (although it certainly helps). What you do need, however, are ads that incorporate unique branding — completely different from your competitors — and that elicit a direct response.