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| What do you do when you want to get more patients? Do you run an ad that someone told you works well, or do you sign up for a Val-Pac insert, the same one that you've been using for years without having an idea if it's the best or not?
For many doctors, advertising is just a "hit and miss" activity that is often used without any proven results. However, this is everything that successful advertising is not.
Any successful doctor, or for that matter any successful business owner, knows that in fact advertising is a very systematic process, filled with both success and failure. The goal is to maximize the profits, while minimizing the losses.
How do you do this? Here are a few steps:
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL
I'm sure you've heard a lot of amazing success stories from different doctors about an advertisement that they ran, or that someone else ran, that got fantastic results. You go out and get the rights to run the ad, and wham - a brick wall.
Not only does the advertisement not bring in the promised results, but it brings no results to speak of at all! You're first instinct is that you were either duped, or that all advertising is a waste of money.
Either case, you would be jumping into conclusions. The bottom line is that advertising does work (even though maybe not the advertisement you used) and that more than likely the ad you used did bring in the results that were promised, but just for another chiropractor.
So why didn't the ad work for you? There could be hundreds of reason: The ad didn't communicate with your particular market. The ad was geared toward a specific lifestyle or trend which is no longer "in" or is not "in" in your particular geography. Somewhere in your implementation, you changed something in the ad which caused its effectiveness to plummet. Or any of a large number of possibilities.
And unfortunately, this is true of virtually every ad. To my knowledge (and I must have analyzed thousands of ads in dozens of industries) there is absolutely no ad which always works for every advertiser. For that matter, there is also absolutely no marketing strategy that is always effective for every practice.
I don't care if the advertisement was created by the greatest marketing mind on the planet Earth. Nothing will work for everyone. So how can you possibly develop or use advertising that brings results if you don't know which ad will work for your practice? You . . .
TEST, TEST, TEST
While there is no magical way to know whether an advertisement will generate globs of patients, or will be a total flop, there is a scientific way to do so - testing, testing, and testing some more.
Unfortunately, this is the point where many people become lazy and careless. It's a lot easier to get an ad that someone told you will work, call up your newspaper, and tell them to run it for you, and stop at that.
But if you are serious about growing your practice, then you will be wise to master the science of testing. By testing different advertisements, you will find out what works and what doesn't, and systematically refine your advertisements to be as profitable as possible.
What do you test? You can test just about anything. You can test the headline, the body, the offer, pricing, ad size, location of ad (which publication it's published in, or which section of the publication), effectiveness of testimonials, artwork, or hundreds of other factors which can determine the success of an ad.
Just like when performing a scientific experiment, you must keep a journal of the results and observations.
It is a waste of time and money to just test different variables of an ad if you are not keeping track of the results. The first step is to get a notebook or journal where you will be noting results and observations from your different tests.
On the top of the page, write down which ad you used, where the ad ran, when it ran, how much it costed you to run, and any other piece of information that you would like to compare to other ads. After running the ad (on a small scale, see the next section for more information), write down what the results were. Note how many calls you got, how many patients showed up, how many of the patients signed up, and the overall quality of the patients.
Then decide which factor you want to test. Let's say you want to test ad size. Run the ad again, with a larger size, and see what happens. First you note in your journal the differences in the ad, and after running the ad you write down the same observations as you did the first one (how many calls you got, how many appointments, etc.)
Keep in mind that when you test, it is important that you test only one variable at a time. Otherwise if you get a better, or worse, result, you won't know which variable caused the difference.
MAXIMIZING PROFITS AND MINIMIZING LOSSES
So now you've tested several ads, and you've jotted down the results that you got from them. How do you use this information to help make as much profit as possible?
Well, your first benefit will be in the form of savings. When you test an ad, you never sign a contract for future runnings, even if you are offered a good discount. This way if an ad was a complete bomb, your losses will have been minimal. This is one of the greatest benefits of testing, so make sure when you are testing, you are being as conservative in your spending as possible.
The second benefit that you will get out of testing is that you will have developed very focused, highly profitable advertisements that you can be running on a regular basis to get new patients.
By looking over your journal, you will be able to notice a pattern forming over which advertisements, and specific variables of those advertisements are most profitable. By refining your ads with data from your testing, you will have advertisements that have been proven by you, and the marketplace, to be effective.
Once you have one or more advertisement that has been honed to your particular practice and market, the final step is to roll out. You advertise the ad in more locations, with more frequency. The thing to keep in mind here is that you still shouldn't stop testing.
When expanding the locations where you advertise, for example, make sure you start out slow, and test the different locations to see if they are as successful as your "control" (the ad that has been proven to work after several tests). You will also want to monitor your control ad to make sure that it isn't losing impact overtime (as all ads eventually will). All this data must be kept in your journal and reviewed on a regular basis by you if it is to be of any benefit to your practice.
So obviously, some work is involved in this process. But believe me, any work and effort that you put in testing your ads will be more than worth it, once you have a proven, tested, advertisement that is pulling in new, quality patients for you on a regular basis.
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