How to Avoid Doctor Advertising Mistake #15: Failing to Test

Doctors tend to be risk-aware or risk-sensitive individuals.

It’s part of the sobering responsibility they assume with the care and treatment of their patients. Years of education, professional training and clinical experience develop a mindset of assessing and managing risk vs. reward. Patients and colleagues expect no less in practicing medicine.

Of course executing a physician’s advertising plan is, by no means, on the same level of importance as, let’s say, surgery. But a doctor’s risk assessment way of thinking  does not always carry over to their advertising. But you might be surprised at how often doctors will rollout a multi-tier advertising program without testing.

In fact, failing to test is a critical advertising mistake that doctors make every day. (There are a handful of these serious errors that we spot with regularity. We’ve tagged this one as #15.)

“Failing to test” might play out in a couple of ways. Either a physician will launch a full-budget ad campaign, overlooking a crippling error, or they begin with “a little advertising,” and then cut it all short when they don’t get immediate results.

By either scenario, results are poor and resources are wasted. Sound familiar?

The reality is that there is always some degree of risk in advertising. Testing is vital to reduce risk, maximize benefits, and protect a limited budget. Even when there’s little or no cost at risk in the advertising strategy, testing before rollout is a useful step.

It might be a matter of testing a given advertisement placement in magazine “A” compared to magazine “B.” Or testing may be comparing how a proven advertisement performs against a new or different ad concept (perhaps with a different headline) in the same media.

Pay-per-click Internet advertising, which is easy to test, might rotate several ads for a few days. The winning concept emerges quickly. Testing—in media, message, headline, offer, demographics or other variables—allows you to identify the strongest opportunity for success. (Conversely, you fix or avoid the underperformers.)

Test, track and roll-out the proven performers…

For obvious reasons, there is no testing without a reliable means of tracking results for comparison. Click through to this article for more about How Tracking Increases Medical Practice Revenue. And this previous post titled, Golden Goose Demise: A Doctor Marketing Lesson for All Professions.

In short, you roll out the “winning” strategies. As in clinical care, there is less risk and a greater likelihood of success in medical advertising that draws upon real-world experience, result-based planning and strategies, and tactics that are tested and proven winners.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA


Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.



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