advertising‘Page advertising doesn’t work’ – yes it does; you’ve just been doing it wrong, says Chris Baker.

The role of an advertisement is to stimulate a sale. Obvious? I have lost count of the amount of dental practice advertisements that I have seen fall at this first hurdle. It is not clear what they want the reader to actually do.

They are very likely to have included everything that the practice does but with no clear message. Your advertisement must include a very specific call to action – something that you expect the reader to do.

How much will it cost?

Decide upon a budget that you are happy to allocate towards a campaign. If you are thinking of doing a one-off ad to ‘try it’, save your money and do something else – you must commit to a campaign.

Let’s say you allocate £2,000. Any advertisement that costs more than 5% (£100) per insertion is too expensive for your campaign. The size of the ad is important and you should aim for the largest you can afford. But, always remember that three smaller ads will reach more potential patients than one large one.

Where will we put it?

What consideration have you given to the media you will use? You wouldn’t use Glamour to launch a new stair lift. You need to understand your unique business proposition and who your target audience is. Then you need to choose the media that is most appropriate for that group.

How will we write and design it?

A common mistake I see is the logo at the centre of the advertisement. Your logo is not the most important part!

Yes, I know that we have all seen Nike or Coca Cola ads where there is nothing but the logo. When you have invested many decades and billions of pounds in brand building we can talk about this again.

Your message within the advertisement is the most important part – if this resonates with the audience, then they will seek out how to contact you.

Spend time choosing the right images (avoid stock images where you can) and working on the headline and copy. Make sure that the message is compelling and the offer and call to action will make people do just that.

Test, test, and test again

The first place to start is to show friends, family and the team your ads for 20 seconds or so and then quiz them on what they can remember. If they missed much of the ad, you probably need to rewrite it.

You need to run variations so that you can measure response. You need to have at least three versions of whatever sized advertisement you have decided to run. You can then give each ad a unique code and measure which delivers the best response. If one ad is becoming a clear winner, create two further variations of this.

Team involvement

Does the team know about the campaign? The phone rings and there is someone who isn’t a patient asking about free consultations.

The reception team says ‘no’ we can’t do that, and another potential lead dies.

You need to involve your team at every step. They are likely to have good ideas, offer good advice, and will be on the ball when the phone rings. And, you need their assistance in the all-important measuring of response.

How can you ever know if any campaign was a success or a failure if you didn’t measure it? A simple tick list on reception can do the trick. It is particularly important in cases where you are using more than one title/medium and with a series of
different advertisements.


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