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7 Closely-Held Secrets of Advertising That Work

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

After 20-some years in the business of healthcare marketing, I’m still a bit surprised to find medical practices that have written their own advertising copy. The complaint that they bring to us is that “it didn’t work.” And when I see it, I have to wonder if they realize how much this misguided effort cost in time, effort, media expense and lost business opportunity.

Let’s cut to the chase. First, I promise not to practice medicine if they (or you) promise to leave advertising to qualified and experienced advertising professionals. You can talk with our firm if you like—or other companies that do this specialized work—but if you want your advertising investment to produce results, ask professionals to do the work.

Tv advertising animation

How to recognize good creative materials…

Because a well-qualified advertising firm—with experience in healthcare—brings years of experience to the table, that alone reduces your risk as well as your cost. What’s more, the creative effort will embrace dozens of proven techniques and more than a few closely held secrets for success. Here are just a few of the ways you can recognize advertising that works.

Grab attention. Effective advertising has impact. The first challenge is to gain the reader/viewer’s attention.

You are not the audience. Regardless of the form, format or media, advertising appeals to a specific audience (and not the doctor). It’s written with a YOU orientation (meaning the reader or viewer), not “we” or “I.”

A compelling ad is benefit driven. The headline and big idea present value to the audience. It’s about “what’s in it for them.” The message presents features, advantages, benefits and super benefits that answer a need or solve a problem.

The value proposition is clear. Differentiate yourself from the competition and give the reader a reason to choose you vs. others.

There’s a sense of urgency to the message. The text communicates importance and immediacy to inspire or motivate action.

Information is easily understood. A prospective patient will resonate to information about results. The writing is quickly understood, non-technical and presented in short words and sentences.

There is a clear call-to-action. The advertising message directs the consumer to do something now, and gives them the means to do it. The next step might be to buy, to call or to make an appointment.

There's not enough space here for the other 1.5 million secrets of effective healthcare advertising. And these tips will vary somewhat according to the marketing plan and intended media. But the untold secret here is knowing what works in healthcare advertising. And, as David Ogilvy put it, “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.” 

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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