Sometimes hospital advertising is just bad. Sometimes just not effective. Knowing the things that don’t work can help marketers be more effective.
Healthcare advertising is both art and science. Sometimes it’s effective and sometimes it’s not. It is not easy. It is demanding. It’s dynamic and always changing. But in Healthcare Success Lonnie Hirsch and Stewart Gandolf note some things that are sure to doom hospital advertising.
Here are several of the most common pitfalls, classic fumbles and root causes often seen in hospital advertising.
1 Spotlight infection rates and re-admission scores. No doubt there’s some degree of professional pride in attaining certain quality of care measurements, but “fewer septicemia infections,” “fewer re-admissions,” does not make for a great billboard. This one sometimes overlaps with our next category.
2 Multisyllabic medical terms are impressive. Notwithstanding that the patient-public is increasingly well informed, healthcare advertising needs to communicate without confusion. What’s more, the public is far more interested in easily understood benefits and daily living solutions than in the medical science behind why they feel better.
3 Everyone eats alphabet soup. A corollary to the item above, shorthand, buzzwords and abbreviations—EMR, HIR, HIPAA, ACO, ER, PPACA—can be barriers to understanding
4 “We are pleased to announce…” your new building, technology or award. Information about concrete or equipment—without saying how these things benefit the lives of people—is a non-starter…and often boring.
5 Someone upstairs said we should do this ad. There are exceptions, but advertising is rarely a good platform for ideas that are disconnected from defined marketing goals, speak to internal matters, or tackle political issues.
6 Be over-the-top shot at being clever (or trendy, cheeky, witty or insider).The line between “creative” and “confusing” is a thin one. It’s remarkably easy for ads to be seen as obscure, unclear or simply un-funny.
7 Proofreader? (We don’t have one.) A spell-check program has its limitations. Over reliance will have you tracking calls to a Phoenician.
8 Let’s just copy someone else’s nice-looking ad. If there were no copyright or conscience issues, it’s a bad idea. It may be “pretty,” but you don’t know its objective or goals, intended target audience, its role in a larger media plan or marketing strategy, how it performed…or any of a dozen other critical considerations. You’re taking quite a chance on “nice.”
Avoid these mistakes and make your adverting more effective.