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If Patients Chose Doctors Based on How Creative They Are

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Somewhere in the US—we wouldn’t disclose exactly where—there’s a large medical practice that has, until recently, been in a relationship with a local advertising agency. What’s troubling about this relationship is that, over many years, the agency never talked about results, data or Return-on-Investment.

The medical practice likes the people they were working with, and that’s a good thing. But they realized that the friendly agency folks only talked about how “creative” they are. They had little evidence that their marketing budget was producing results.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen this before, and it’s a classic mistake. It makes us wonder: What would our world be like if patients chose doctors based on how "creative they are?”

Clearly, that’s the wrong question and the wrong way to select a provider...or a marketing resource.

Patients aren’t making creative judgments about doctors. They’re seeking authoritative solutions to their healthcare needs. And doctors are in business to answer their needs. In healthcare marketing, measurable performance—actual results, not "creativity"—is the critical test.

Marketing and advertising are serious business tools where performance links directly to new business and profitability. So, in the words of advertising icon David Ogilvy, "Don't tell me you like the ad ... tell me you want to buy the product!"

It’s not about sweet talk…

The nearly constant challenge is to recognize that you are generating measurable results, and not just “doing marketing.” Focus on results-driven marketing and advertising. Your budget and your business future is at risk if the only evidence is:

  • A vague notion of “just getting your name out there”
  • A wall-full of ad agency or industry awards
  • Fuzzy talk about “awareness” or “impressions”
  • Purely pretty or colorful graphics
  • Talk of being amused by funny or clever ads
  • The charming personality of a smooth salesman
  • The glitz and noise about “being creative”

To be clear, creativity in advertising can be powerful and effective. But without a reliable means to quantify and measure hard-dollar results, there is no way to know what’s working…or if your marketing investment is delivering a meaningful return.

And in the interest of full disclosure, we are a medical advertising agency. (We’re pretty good at what we do, and we’ve even won a few awards.) But no matter whom you work with, don’t be distracted by talk of “being creative.” Have a partner that you like and trust, and measure performance by tangible business results, hard data and Return-on-Investment.

For related reading, see: Hardball Questions to Ask BEFORE Selecting a Marketing Partner, and Pretty Poison: When Graphics Kill Your Healthcare Marketing Message.

And for a free, confidential healthcare marketing assessment, connect with us here. There’s no obligation to learn how results-based programs can help you achieve your business goals.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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