How should a practice spend their advertising dollars?

Medical SEOPractices have to carefully scrutinize their advertising budget during this era of bad economic times. It is important not to panic and stop all of your advertising. Instead, ensure you’re spending your marketing dollars wisely and effectively. Simply put, advertise where you’ll get your message to the biggest pool of prospective patients. Do keep in mind that your advertisements must be affordable and effective.

Search Engine Optimization and Internet Marketing continues to have one of the highest growth rates of any form of medical practice advertising because it works. There are many reasons that medical practices need to focus on Internet marketing. Online searches have become the first tool that patients use when searching for medical information. It is also a very cost effective form of advertising when compared to other marketing venues. Yet, most practices have a common misconception that they don’t need to do anything on the Internet once their Website is built.

SEO & Internet Marketing is Less Expensive than…

Yellow Pages

Most practices spend thousands of dollars on the Yellow Pages. In fact, a full page ad can cost up to $3300 per month or $39,000 per year. The Yellow Pages used to be a great advertising venue for medical practices, but in today’s world most consumers don’t even keep their copy of the yellow pages. This has decreased the importance of a yellow page ad so much that even the yellow page companies have created online advertising venues. Practices could dramatically reduce the size of their ads to lower the cost of their yellow pages advertising.

Newspaper Ads

Traditionally, medical practices have placed ads in their local newspapers. Newspapers were an excellent way to reach potential patients in your area. Newspaper ads are costly. A normal size ad (3×4) has an average cost of $1000 per Sunday. That’s $12,000 per year if your practice only advertises one Sunday per month. The problem is your practice is one of many practices that advertise in the newspaper and there is no guaranteed placement unless your practice signs a costly annual contract. Therefore, your ad could be placed directly below your competition.

The real reason that you should look at other advertising methods is the fact that newspapers across the country are disappearing. The internet is America’s number one news resource. Now is the time to work on search engine optimization and internet marketing. It won’t take long for your competition to begin focus on internet strategies. The more medical practices that focus on search engine optimization and internet marketing, the harder it will get to obtain first page rankings.

Local Magazine Ads

Administrators of medical practices are constantly asked to advertise in local magazines. These magazines generally free magazines that potential customers pick up at movie theaters, restaurants, malls, and more. The sales representative will explain how the magazine has a print run of over 50,000 (or 80,000 - 100,000) copies and they strategically place the magazines at high traffic areas. Plus, they send copies to the most desired zip codes in your area. These ads can be very expensive with prices ranging from $500 - $2500 for a half page ad. Of course, you can’t run just one ad. They usually require a 6 month to 12 month contract to lock in the “best price”.

A lot of these magazines are very nicely done. They’re just not geared towards the medical industry. Most of these “free” magazines do a better job promoting restaurants, night clubs, and other entertainment services. Some consumers consider these magazines junk mail and place little value on the ads in them. Therefore, medical practices should use caution when advertising in these “free” publications.

Direct Mail

Direct Mail can be a good resource to target specific demographics or to send newsletters/information to your existing patients. Direct Mail campaigns can be very costly to run. In fact, they can cost approximately 70 cents per piece create and send. That’s $3500 for a mailing if you send your piece to 5000 recipients. It’s really costs a lot more to run a successful direct mail campaign.

It generally takes three impressions for a postcard piece before your message will stick with a potential patient. Therefore, it is recommended that you send your direct mail piece three times to get the best return. Almost every major company runs series of three direct mail pieces. When was the last time that Bed, Bath, and Beyond sent you one postcard during the period of one month. Now your direct mail campaign is costing over $10,000.

An E-mail campaign using the same list can run you about $150, depending on the cost of the program or service you use. This dramatically reduces your advertising costs.

Enhance your “Word of Mouth” Advertising

We agree that word of mouth advertising is still the best form of advertising. Therefore, it is rea llyimportant to ensure your current patients become a great referral source. The level of confidence a prospective patient gains from a word of mouth referral is invaluable. What your practice needs to realize is that these prospective patients will go straight to the Internet to find more information about your practice. Anyone in the medical field should have a carefully planned Internet marketing plan in place.

The most important thing is having a Web site that works for the your practice or facility. It must be easy to use, informative, create trust and effectively sell the services you offer. Having a site is great, but you need people to find you site on the Web and that is not as easy as you think. Search Engine Optimization - SEO - helps your site get found not just for your name, but for the services you offer in your local area. A proper SEO strategy is planned out carefully and this is part of what we train you to do.

Jeff Brooks- Medical Advertising Consultant

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