The Anatomy of a Great Ad - Helpful Medical Marketing Tips (Copywriting 101)

What was the last ad that you can remember responding to? You might be thinking, “Well, I don’t respond to ads, I know they’re advertising, so I pretty much ignore them.”

Ok, let’s try this another way. What was the last fun thing you bought for yourself? A new set of golf clubs? A new car? An exotic vacation to a far-flung destination on your bucket list?

Now try to think about the decision-making process that led to your purchase. You might not be able to recall a “single” ad that made you pick up the phone or take action, however I’m willing to bet there were at least ten advertisements that at some point significantly influenced your purchasing decision – whether you were consciously aware of them or not.

Let me give you a concrete example. Last year I invested in a brand new, top-of-the-line $3000 Western leather saddle. I had been “considering” buying a saddle for about a year before finally pulling the trigger. My buying process started like this — lots of online research (during which time I was bombarded by Google Pay-Per-Click ads), reviewing horse riding forums (seeing saddle banner ads), reviewing various saddle makers websites (reading their ad copy on their pages), reading industry trade journals like Horse & Rider (seeing their space ads). Then one day I had had a particularly bad day riding my horse in my old saddle. I picked up a magazine, saw an ad for a saddle that specifically spoke to my needs and right then I ordered it

You can see that although I was considering my purchase for about a year, the reason I pulled the trigger was in direct response to an ad that I saw – the right message delivered at the right time. Now you have no control over what’s going on it your patient’s lives, so the issue of timing is more about being prolific with your marketing so that when someone is ready to schedule that initial consult with you – they already know all about you and have virtually “pre-made” their decision. Just as I’d been contemplating a new saddle for a year your prospective patients have likely been thinking about cosmetic surgery for at least a year before they ever take action and do something about it. They’ve done their research on the internet, read multiple articles, poured through pages and pages of patient reviews and scoured the websites of likely dozens of cosmetic surgeons.

So which of your ads actually tip the scale and get that patient to call you? Do you know? Because if you did, then all you’d have to do is run those very effective ads, eliminate the non-effective ones and then set about to keep improving them.

And here’s more food for thought. What if your medical marketing was compelling enough that it sped up the prospective patient’s decision-making process reducing what could be a year or more down to weeks or even days, ignoring the ads of your competitors and calling you sooner?

The answer isn’t some kind of marketing voodoo or great secret. It’s extremely simple, actually.

The most effective ads are effective because they follow a proven copywriting formula by getting people to take immediate action. This is what’s known as direct response marketing.

Someone sees the marketing for your practice and right then and there they drop what they’re doing and respond immediately. Not in three months’ time when they feel good and ready, or in six months’ time when their bonus check arrives — but today. By harnessing the power of direct response marketing in your practice, you’re back in the driver’s seat – because now you get to control how many patients call your practice that day, that week or that month.

David Ogilvy's Rolls-Royce Ad from 1959 contains many excellent marketing lessons to help you write better medical ads for your practice. You can read the copy of the entire ad by clicking  here

David Ogilvy's Rolls-Royce Ad from 1959 contains many excellent marketing lessons to help you write better medical ads for your practice. You can read the copy of the entire ad by clicking here

Speaking of putting you back in the driver’s seat take a look at this vintage 1959 print ad for Rolls Royce. It was written by my mentor and one of the greatest advertising copywriters of all time — David Ogilvy. The headline reads “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”

The copy might be too small for you to read, however at the time this ad was responsible for selling more Rolls-Royce automobiles than the next top three luxury cars combined. The headline reads “At 60 Miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”

Before you dismiss this ad as not being applicable to marketing your aesthetic practice, let me show you why it is. First, both you and Rolls-Royce are marketing a very high-end luxury item that affects the way people feel about themselves and the way other people view them. Secondly one of the reasons this ad was so successful was because it really spoke to people’s emotions. Just like buying a car the decision whether someone wants cosmetic surgery or not is emotional. Your ability to write effective ads for your practice depends on your ability to connect in a meaningful way with the thousands of affluent women in your market – and the only way to do this is through emotion.

Now let’s discuss the anatomy of this great ad and how it uses this direct response ad formula:

  1. Spend time coming up with a bold headline that contains “a big idea. There’s no “me-too” marketing in this ad that talks about how good-looking the car is, or how great you’ll feel owning one (yawn). Instead, the headline piques reader curiosity and draws them in to read the rest of the article. In the words of David Ogilvy himself “On 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. If you haven’t done some selling in your headline, you have wasted 80 percent of your client’s money.”

  2. Do your homework on your target audience
    David Ogilvy spent six weeks reading everything he could find about the car. Know your target audience and what their emotional triggers are, then write your ad accordingly.

  3. Choose images that actually sell ideas (not just look pretty). The Rolls-Royce ad features handsome, attention-grabbing imagery that in its day looked completely different from the ads their competitors ran. The image conveys a strong message in itself — this is a fine family vehicle. Consider abolishing the use of stock image photos that just show pictures of beautiful, airbrushed women. The most powerful images to use in your medical marketing tell a story themselves

  4. Keep sentences short. The ad is informative, yet very easy to read and has highly compelling ad copy. It cleverly positions itself as the only option in the market, and each sentence makes you want to continue reading the next one — for example, “The picnic table, veneered in French walnut, slides out from under the dash. Two more swing out behind the front seats.”

  5. The words you write are even more important than the images you use. That’s why copywriting is so critical to your success. The majority of the ad is filled with compelling, easy-to-read ad copy that makes you eager to spend your time reading the ad and then pick up your car keys to go find the nearest dealer. Most medical marketing has this ratio entirely backwards, with images taking up the majority of ad space and ad copy just added here and there. To write truly effective medical marketing ads, your copy has to do the lion’s share of the work in drawing people in

You might be thinking, “Well, people don’t have time today to read long ads.” That’s true. But people will always have the time to read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad. Sometimes it isn’t. The book 50 Shades of Grey is 579 pages long. Ask your staff how long it took them to read that book. I think you’ll find they couldn’t put it down! Your ads need to be the same way.

Use this 5-step copywriting formula when creating your medical marketing and you’ll find your response rates will increase, you'll connect with the women in your market more meaningfully and they'll be far more eager to call you today.