Quick-check questions that reveal make-it or break-it problems before launch

excellenceThe difference between big-time winning vs. downright disaster in healthcare direct response depends on a million variables. A single, simple oversight can cost you the ballgame. Ask yourself these seven questions to find and fix fundamental problems before you rollout any direct response program.

These objectives are just as valid in healthcare marketing as they are for retail. Independent of the sources of the marketing—be it a hospital, private practice, physician group, surgicenter, health spa, or other healthcare or business entity—you want someone (target audience) to do something (buy, call, come in)…pretty much right away.As its name suggests, the object of DIRECT RESPONSE advertising is…response…directly.

And independent of the media you have in play—it could be print ads, direct mail postcards, broadcast or email, internet—the intent is to communicate a compelling message that motivates the recipient to act now.

Before you push the button on your next direct response effort, check you work against these seven quick challenges. This isn’t a complete guide to getting everything right, but you might avoid some fundamental mistakes. (You can always call us to make it right for you.)

  1. Am I fishing where the fish are? People who are successful at fishing don’t rely on expensive equipment or fancy bait. Maybe those things help, but mainly they catch fish by fishing where there’s something to catch. Our point is: Confirm that you have the right direct mail list, media plan, or print readership that brings this message to precisely the audience you want to reach. No fish, no response.
  2. Do I have your complete attention? Will your direct response material grab attention, will it stand out among others, is the central idea important and get noticed by the audience? Is the problem specific to an individual and not a general group? If it’s not meaningful and compelling to them (personally), they’ll probably let someone else deal with it.
  3. What’s my solution to their pain? If you have their attention and they know there’s a problem, do you offer a clear and attractive answer to their need? How is your solution better than the competition, and superior to the do-nothing option? In short: What’s in this for them?
  4. How often did I use the word YOU? Do a fresh read of the text and highlight the word YOU, then circle the words I and WE. If your message is to and about the reader, you’ll find more YOU statements. (Change those with I or WE.)
  5. What’s my compelling offer? Yes, you need a strong offer (with a deadline)…it’s the energy of immediacy for the reader to act right now instead of “someday” or “later” or “whenever.” (Hence the deadline part.) And yes, it is possible to shape an attractive offer without sounding unprofessional or “retail.” Let us know if you’re stuck because having an offer-the right offer-can make or break the results.
  6. Is the next step really, really clear? Surprisingly, some people tend to think the call to action is self-evident, but it’s not. Don’t leave it to chance; it’s OK to direct the reader to “call today” or “click here” or say exactly what you want them to do next.
  7. How will I keep score in this ballgame? Exactly what mechanics do you have in place to track response? Your Return-on-Investment is the overall measure of effectiveness, but keep in mind you’ll want to track “Ad #1” vs. “Ad #2” and so on. Use a tracking device, such as a distinctive offer name or unique phone number. (There are also ways to track automate inbound calls tracking for fewer reporting errors.)

We hope these little check-questions are helpful, but they barely scratch the surface of all that’s involved in Direct Response Advertising.

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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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