How to Spot the Born Losers of Healthcare Marketing

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Tiny animated 3D stick figure being crushed by a giant red "lose" diceThe number of “born losers” in healthcare practice marketing, advertising and promotion is roughly the same as the head-count of ants at a summer picnic-and just as welcome.

These include putting your name, logo or ad on or in:

• Matchbook Covers • Event Programs or Souvenirs
• Restaurant Placemats • Car Wash Bulletin Boards
• Dunkin’ Donuts® Boxes • Local Merchants Co-op Listing
• Tourist or Local Maps • Imprinted Toys, Trinkets & Merchandise
• Refrigerator Magnets, Calendars • Cash Register Tape (or back of anything)
• Grocery Cart Ads
• Small Yellow Pages Ad (last in the section)

Sooner or later an enterprising salesperson will find you on their radar and these “opportunities” will be pitched to you or your office staff. Maybe weekly.

And what’s truly amazing is that the new and unusual gizmo and the carefully crafted sales pitch are likely to sound compelling, enticing and urgent. So if it looks just too good to pass-up… well, shift to slow-gear and proceed with caution, it’s probably not what it seems.

Here’s how to spot the pitch and avoid the Born Losers…

Pitch: “The Cost Is Low” – Of course it’s cheap. If it could deliver a quantifiable audience and/or measurable response, it would not be such a bargain.

Pitch: “Just One New Case/Patient Will Pay for This” – A variation of “low cost,” but worse, there’s usually no accurate means to track ROI with Born Losers.

Pitch: “It’s Mighty Cute, Creative, Original” – Yes it is, and a lot of people buy into the gimmick idea because “they love it” or “everyone would love this” – like a clever toy with your name on it. This is especially true with toys and trinkets. Don’t confuse clever with effective. Imprinted merchandise is not a good medium for most circumstances.

Pitch: “You’ll be First…” – Being in the first edition, the inaugural release or the top of the list may be a good signal to let someone else prove the concept. If this breakthrough proves to be effective, you can revisit and evaluate when it actually has a track record.

Pitch: “This is the only remaining (item, position, space)” – See above. First, last or discounted rate is a selling technique and no assurance that it will produce results.

Pitch: “Your staff is all for it.” – It’s great your staff likes it, but I don’t think they’re ready to pay for this.

Pitch: “We print thousands of these and distribute them free all over town.” – Two caution flags here: The quantity printed is not the same as quantity of readers or responders. Plus, being free may not be a plus either.

Pitch: “An ad in this program supports the community (or event, band, team, etc)” – If the civic or charitable organization gains something from this, then you may want to make a contribution. (Confirm this directly with the charity.) But if you decide to make give a gift – that’s personal and a different budget. Preserve your marketing budget for marketing expenses.

Pitch: “If you don’t do this, I’ll take it to your competitor” – Talk about slimy! When you hear this one, get out your yellow pages directory, hand it to the rep, and tell him “Be my guest.” If you are lucky, your most aggressive competitor will fall for this tactic and waste precious marketing dollars on this losing proposition.

Here’s the bottom line on Born Losers…

  1. These things hardly ever work, so don’t waste your time or budget.
  2. Stick with your well-considered, carefully planned marketing program.
  3. Let the hot new idea or opportunity prove itself on someone else’s dime.

And if you’re still in doubt, give us a call for a reality check.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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