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Healthcare Marketing Mistake #12: Using the Wrong Advertising Channels

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

error stamp[Another in our series.] More than at any time in our history, healthcare marketing and advertising planners have a ton of media choices available.

There’s the familiar “tradition” media basket that includes newspapers, direct mail, radio, television, billboards, Yellow Pages, postcards, and others. Plus there’s the ever-expanding batch of digital channels—including email, the Internet, smart phones, Facebook, Twitter, pay-per-click and others.

From Jumbotron-size digital outdoor screens to the thumbnail-size ads squeezed into the corner of your smartphone display, the options can be bewildering and maybe a bit intimidating.

The problem isn’t the range and depth of media choices for doctor or hospital advertising. In fact, it’s preferable to have a full-range artist’s palette available to reach and attract the prospective patients you want.

But, the good news is also the bad news. There are many options, but if you haven’t fully evaluated the media choices and you pick the wrong advertising channels it's a waste of precious resources. In working with providers and healthcare organizations, we’ve identified this as a Classic Mistake. (It’s Number 12 on our list of the most common errors.)

Using the wrong advertising channels can bite you a couple of different ways. Here’s what can go wrong…and how to avoid this costly marketing mistake.

Letting frustration or fear guide your media planning. Confronting “too many media options” sometimes leads to a selection based on taking the easy way out, or perhaps buying into the last salesman’s pitch. (Not good.)

Repeating an old plan over again…and again. What worked in the past may or may not work in the present. Many, if not all, of the assumptions of an old plan—market, audience, competition and a dozen other variables—will change over time. (And if it didn’t work in the past, why do it again?)

You started, and quickly stopped before it had a chance to take hold. Was it a lack of immediate performance, or a lack of confidence in the channel selection?

Synergy? What do you mean by media synergy? Using the right combination of two or media choices, scheduled with the right timing, can have a magnifying effect on the results, and often stretch the budget, too.

Unfortunately, there are dozens of wrong reasons to select a particular advertising channel. Some examples: “Being on TV is alluring.” “Everyone in the office listens to that radio station.” “What about Facebook? Don’t they have ads?” “It’s a free newspaper, that can’t possibly be effective.” In the end, you waste money on a bad media buy AND you loose new business opportunity.

Your choice of advertising media should be based on a number of things (including):

  • Your budget; (a realistic budget that is aligned your goals.)
  • The demographics of your target patient; (and clearly understanding the media that reaches this audience.)
  • The media that have been shown to work well for attracting patients; (the types of patients/cases that you want.)

And perhaps the most important consideration is in knowing how to make all of your marketing approaches work together in a coordinated and cohesive plan. (And that's a skill based on experience.)

We've found that the complexities of media planning are best handled (and are more cost-effective) with professional help. But regardless of what works best for your situation, selecting the right advertising channels can be a cost effective path to reaching and motivating prospective patients.

Other articles in this series are titled: Underestimate the Competition: Critical Medical Advertising Mistake #9, and Physician Advertising Mistake #11: Not Knowing How to Evaluate Creative Materials.

Lonnie Hirsch


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