error mistakeNo, I’m not bald. Not yet. But there are moments throughout the year when I’m ready to grab a handful of those threadlike strands and yank with gusto.

Instead, please allow me this brief and civilized rant…a year-end vent for the little frustrations that I encounter in healthcare marketing and advertising. In fact, let’s consider this to be constructive observations with ways to achieve more effective communications and better results.

That said, here (in random order) are some classic advertising and marketing mistakes that everyone should resolve to avoid in the New Year:

Believe it or not, nobody wants to hear about you. Audiences want to know “what’s in this for me?” Understand your audience and create messages that answer their need. If you don’t know, ask them.

Benefits (not features) sell. Ads that spotlight new equipment, for example—without presenting how it benefits the patient/consumer—are unimportant to the audience. Think benefits.

Your target audience is someone, not everyone. Advertising reaches many people, but it is consumed by individuals. Focus your message for a particular audience, and talk to one (targeted) person at a time.

Trusting intuition over testing and experience. Too often, a “strong instinct” is a high-risk bet based purely on a guess. Maybe you’ll get lucky, but it’s no substitute for research and experience.

Putting the treatment get ahead of diagnosis. Successful marketing strategy and tactics—those that produce results—are determined after the goals are clear; not the other way around. (We’ve written about this one previously.)

Leaving the reader wondering what to do next. You’d be amazed how often we see advertising that has no call to action. Be clear and direct about how the reader can respond to your message.

Shooting from the hip. Avoid the temptation to “do something” without a well-considered plan. You can do things quickly, but purely impulsive marketing is a knee-jerk waste of resources.

Using crappy, grainy, out dated photos. If an advertisement is worth the time and effort to create, don’t distract the reader (and destroy effectiveness) with poor quality images.

Letting your sister-in-law do the artwork (or copywriting, or anything). No doubt you love your family members, but being available (and temptingly low cost) are not competent qualifications. Give your relative a hug and hire experienced, professional talent instead.

Failure to track is almost the same as failure to launch. The purpose of marketing and advertising is to produce specific, measured results as a Return-on-Investment. If you aren’t tracking results—good or bad—you have no way to know what’s working.

Word-of-Mouth isn’t a marketing plan. There may have been a time—quite long ago—when a healthcare provider’s could rely purely on doing a good job and Word-of-Mouth (WOM) would carry the day for new business. Positive WOM can have value, but it’s not a stand-alone tactic.

Discounting your competition. Healthcare is a serious business with strong competition in the marketplace. It’s vital to know the other players and recognize that they are determined to play hard and to win.

Meaningful results take a time. Advertisers expect results, but they almost never happen overnight. Effective advertising needs continued exposure to reach, influence and persuade the audience. Don’t switch or quit in the early going.

What can you add to this list? Tell us about the classic marketing mistakes you’ve seen—and what to do instead. And for more on this topic, click through to our previous post, 4 Money-Wasting Marketing Mistakes That Doctors and Hospitals Make Everyday.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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Stewart Gandolf

Stewart Gandolf

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Healthcare Success Strategies
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is CEO of Healthcare Success, a medical marketing and health care advertising agency. He is also a frequent writer and speaker. Most importantly, he is happily married and a "rock-n-roll daddy" to two wonderful girls.
Stewart Gandolf
Stewart Gandolf


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