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

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

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 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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