Paul M. Stubenbordt focuses his blog on what steps a practice can take to optimize traditional and Internet marketing, public relations, social media as well as non-traditional marketing tactics that can help maximize your current practice development program.

Creative vs. effective marketing

Creative marketing and effective marketing are, unfortunately, not one and the same. Creative marketing is just that, creative. It’s artistic or clever or funny. People like these ads. The problem is that, even though people like them, they often don’t remember what product or service was actually being marketed. Effective advertising ensures that you get your name out there and brand your business. This is not to say that being creative is bad — far from it. You just need to make sure you don’t sacrifice effectiveness for creativity. To avoid this, follow these basic guidelines for creating an effective marketing message:

  • Know you target audience. Who are you trying to reach? Your message should be aimed at your target demographic. You wouldn’t do an ad for cataracts that features twenty something’s frolicking on the beach! Just as you wouldn’t run an ad targeted to LASIK in the newspaper. 
  • Know your competition. What sets you apart from your competitors? Why should people come to you instead of going elsewhere? Make comparisons to competitors when you can.
  • Grab their attention! Use information that will interest your targeted audience and grab their attention in the beginning. Tie in local interest stories or upcoming holidays. Make a strong statement about how this product or service can improve their life.
  • Keep it simple! Complex and long-winded messages are often tuned out by the audience.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Images are often more effective advertising tools than words. Show results! Patient testimonial videos are great for this. Use them in commercials, on your website, or on social media sites. They can also be used in print form and added to newsletters — magazine ads, billboards (for short ones), etc.
  • Always link your message to your brand. Any ad should be just one component of an entire integrated marketing campaign. Use many marketing components (e.g., print, radio, TV, social media, etc.) together to build your brand. Think of the Geico lizard, Aflac duck, or even the golden arches of McDonalds. These are so well branded that you could show someone a picture of a gecko with nothing else and they are likely to think of Geico. That’s what you want! Total brand recognition.
  • Have a call to action. “Call before the end of the month and enjoy $1500 off All-Laser LASIK!” or “Call for your free guide to cataracts.” You need something to entice them to pick up the phone and call today.

So be creative in your advertising — just make sure you are also using the right message and branding yourself along the way. I’ve seen way too many practices think they found the perfect message because they came up with a rhyme. Recently, I had a client abandon his long-term branded message that was working well because he wanted to try something funny. It was funny, I’d have to say, but the message did not talk about the consumer’s wants and desires; in this case, clear vision. The calls died and (you guessed it) we were back on the air with his “classic” message; and the calls came right back.

Just remember, creative does not equal effective.

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