An Apple a Day
Take the pain out of your rehabilitation marketing.
By Brandon Moser
If you have a chance, look at some health industry advertisements. Do you see a difference in their visual marketing? It should come as no surprise that they are similar—a lot of toothy grins from 30-somethings; slightly graying yet attractive women gardening; guys on bikes; and dream teams of confident health care professionals standing together (including a guy with his arms folded, wearing scrubs, and a lady wearing glasses and in a lab coat while carrying a clipboard). Oh, and do not forget the apples. Apples always mean a healthy lifestyle.
Before I entered the marketing and advertising world 20 years ago, I was a physical therapy practitioner. I had some great patients that took their home exercises seriously. I also had patients who constantly complained their rehabilitation was not happening quickly enough. When the patient was pushed for details, it was evident they were not doing the necessary effort outside of the clinic to recover as fast as they hoped. There are similarities in marketing.
Health care providers often take shortcuts in their marketing and promotion. Then they are unsatisfied with the results. There are no shortcuts in rehabilitation—and there are no shortcuts in creating effective, revenue-producing marketing.
Cheap can be very expensive
I wish I had a nickel for every time we had a new customer come to us with a story about how they were disappointed by someone who had designed a terrible marketing piece for them. After further questioning, I usually found it was a result of the customer giving the business to the lowest-possible bidder.
The growth of your business, and your livelihood, depends on successful, effective marketing. And yet cost is always one of the biggest drivers in marketing decisions. Do not be cheap here. Be smart, because “You get what you pay for.” It is true. You also get what you do not pay for—such as stress, inferior quality, and dealing with more daily pain than a torn triceps surae muscle. Because if they are charging next to nothing, it means that they have next to nothing to offer. It does not mean spend indiscriminately. You do not need Don Draper to write your jingle. Just spend intelligently. And sometimes a little more than you may be comfortable with.
The truth is that solid, evidence-based marketing from industry experts will usually pay for itself and then some. If you choose the right marketing partner, with the right skill set, cost should never be an issue. You will be concentrating on bottom-line revenue potential rather than short-term costs. Being cheap with marketing dollars is an ailment for which there is no cure.
If you do not stand out, you do not stand a chance
The health industry has traditionally been very conservative in their marketing efforts. Whether it is due to past regulatory intimidation or just becoming creatively lazy due to the conservative nature of the health care industry, it provides an enormous opportunity for those who want to stand out from the crowd.
If you ever wonder why the response rates are low for your advertising, take a good hard look at your creative. Take a look at the images you are using. Are they different from the competition? Or are you walking along the same beaches, frolicking in the same parks, and gardening with the same slightly graying, attractive ladies? Are you overemphasizing the importance of representing all ethnicities to your audience at the expense of decreasing the emotional pull it may have with your audience?
Instead of using emotionally stirring imagery that truly tells the story of the organization’s brand, the pictures are spiritless and overused stock images that have no association with the copy, but do represent 80 percent of the ethnicities on earth because someone told them to represent all ethnicities in their marketing materials. This belief that organizations have to visually represent all cultures in their target market is just not true. I have yet to see valid evidence and peer-reviewed research that shows using models representative of the target demographic substantially increases conversion. However, if you go and really examine the health care space and all of the marketing, you will see an abundance of these, “We are the world” stock photos. Do not market yourself like everyone else. Break the mold and make your brand get noticed.
It is about results
Do not go through the motions with your marketing efforts. Remember the end goal—results and a healthy marketing return on investment for your organization. A patient cannot just walk into a rehab clinic and demand electrical knee stimulation. Before any therapies are recommended, there is a solid medical strategy put in place by a trained professional. Organizations cannot assume that a print ad or a web banner will cure their marketing pains—they also need a strategy in place before any modalities are recommended. Just like with physical rehabilitation, the more attention and effort it receives, the healthier you will ultimately be.
Brandon Moser is the president and chief executive officer of HowlandMoser Advertising. He can be reached at HowlandMoser.com.