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01/04/2007 - Tested methods to increase the power of your clinic ads, flyers, sales letters and promotions. By Gavin Hurlimann

What makes one clinic marketing promotion get a huge response and another to fail miserably? More often than not, it’s the execution. It’s the way you do it.

All advertising and marketing is based on fixed principles. Advertising operates according to fundamental laws and not chance. These laws and principles were set out by Claude C. Hopkins (1867 – 1932) in 1923. They are based on 36 years of tested and monitored advertising – ads, letters and promotions whose results were monitored and compared.

These advertising laws were set by doing marketing campaigns on thousands of different services and products, from toothpaste to heavy machinery. Thousands of ads, headlines and layouts were compared and analyzed. There are some exceptions that don’t follow these laws, but they are few and far between. These services or products are usually in such high demand that they would have been successful regardless.

Here are the eleven laws that will increase the results of your advertising…#1. Free vouchers, gift certificates with a “scarcity” factor and 1800 numbers increase response.

Countless tests prove that free vouchers or gift certificates multiply returns. People defer action, then forget. A gift certificate or free voucher reminds the person to take action and to either call your clinic or take it with them to the place of business. 1800 numbers encourage people to phone simply because it’s free.

#2. Always use 8, 10 or 12 font size.

Almost all of our reading is done in newspaper size print. If you test your results, you’ll find that oversize font does not pay. Double your size and you double your cost. If your ad or flyer is interesting, people will read it in a font size they are used to. If it’s not, they won’t read it in any size or any style.

#3. Don’t use capitals.

Most of our reading is done in upper and lower case types. People are used to that. If you write in capitals, it takes time to study them out and you’ll lose readers that way. Follow the natural and usual format.

#4. Pictures usually don’t sell.

In most cases, the cost of the extra space taken up by a picture will not pay for itself. You must experiment by trying ads with and without pictures and working out the cost of each. The one exception to this rule is a “headshot” of you (smiling). Often this will create the feeling of “familiarity and trust” with the reader.

#5. Always tell the full story.

People don’t read ads in a series. Every ad should tell the full story. When you attract a readers’ attention, present all the arguments for your service or product. You may not get another reading from that person in months. Always include all the important benefits your service or product has. You wouldn’t send out a salesperson for your clinic and tell them to “keep it brief”. You’d want them to present all the advantages of coming to your clinic and not your competitors. Newspaper or flyer advertising is simply “Salesmanship in Print”, so the general rule for ads, flyers and letters is always… “The more you tell, the more you sell”

#6. Superlative claims don’t count.

Give actual facts and specifics. To say something like, “best in town”, “for all your health needs” or “outstanding clinical results” makes no impression. These are expected claims and the reader loses interest and respect for you because of the exaggeration. If you say, “same day appointment” or “no appointment necessary” (when you’re starting out), “serving the health needs of XXX community since XXX” or “official treatment provider for XYZ rugby team”, people will realize you have credibility as they don’t expect you to lie about these claims in print.

#7. Never advertise negatively.

Always present the positive aspect of your service or product. Show and feature the great results your treatment has provided for your patients by including one or two line testimonials in your advertising. All people seek the same basic wants in life – happiness, safety, health, love and acceptance. Show prospects through your advertising that you and your clinic can provide these wants.

#8. Prevention does not sell. Cure does.

All tests in advertising show that people will do little to prevent ill heath but they will do almost anything to cure it. Patients seek the latest improvements, advantages and new ways to satisfy their desires in life. Focus your ad copy on providing the solutions and your advertising results will quickly multiply.

#9. It is an uphill battle to sell your service in print (or in person) without vouchers and free trials.

To succeed in your business, you must let prospective new patients sample your treatment skills or health products. This allows them to be “emotionally” involved with you and your clinic. So offer them a FREE initial consultation on enquiring to do this. The cost of this free “sampling” is the cheapest way to get the highest results from your ads. Free “sampling” of your clinic will build up your business in the quickest and cheapest way, particularly if you are starting from scratch.

#10. Learn what headline most appeals to your target market.

You will multiply the results of your ads by eight, fourteen or nineteen times by a change of headline. A headline acts as a flashing light with a person’s name on it. You select what you read by headlines. So it is with ads. You must always measure what effect a change in headline has on your results.

#11. Never rely on your judgement and experience in advertising.

Test everything you do in the most exact way possible. In Australia, a panel of advertising “experts” was asked to vote on a series of ads to determine which ads had the best results. In all cases, they got 50% wrong when comparing these ads. Are you game to say you know better?... “Test everything you do and monitor the results”. Always “sell” your benefits. So having now established your “thing” or UBA, you should now concentrate on “branding it” The best way to do this is to decide on your “benefits to the patient” and stick to them. Your benefits are the main reasons why people come to your clinic in the first place. As we have already discussed, benefits are what the patient gets from using your service, herbal formulas or other health products. However, benefits must not be confused with “features”. In all your marketing you must always turn features into benefits. Most clinic businesses when producing a flier, brochure, or even a business card will merely list their features without pointing out the benefits of those features.

For example, here is a list of some common clinic features one always sees in many NZRA practitioners’ advertisements or fliers…

‘NZRA registered’

‘ACC healthcare provider’

‘Free parking’

‘We are on the main street’

‘We are right next to the XYZ medical centre’

‘We are the largest importer of…’

‘We have the best and largest variety of…’

‘We care’

“Masters Degree China”

These are all features that still don’t tell the prospective patient what these features mean to them or what benefit these are to them. By adding a benefit to each feature listed you can turn any piece of marketing material into a great selling tool that entices a prospective patient to your clinic and not your competitors. For example, add the following benefits to the above listed features and you will see what I mean.

NZRA registered - ‘So you will receive only professional, qualified treatment from us’

ACC healthcare provider - ‘Prompt, qualified ACC injury treatment from us’

Free parking - ‘No hassles with parking for you’

We are on the main street - ‘Easy for you to find us at our central location’

Next to the XYZ medical centre - ‘Convenient ACC referrals for any injury available from Dr XXX next door ’

We are the largest importer of - ‘Because of our large range, all your health requirements are taken care of here’

We have the best and largest variety of - ‘You will have no need to walk all over town’

We care - ‘We give you personal, individualized treatment every time’

Masters Degree China - ‘Providing a wealth of treatment knowledge tailored specifically for you’.

Benefits are the most important “selling tool” for any clinic business and should always be used when presenting your service or products. Never market on features alone. For a patient to pay for your services you need to spell out what the benefits of your service and clinic are for them. Benefits when constantly used become your “brand”. You already have a great CAM skill and now it’s the actions and methods you employ to deliver that skill that your clinic business will become known for. In other words, the benefits to the patient of dealing with you. You should write down all the features of your clinic business and turn them into benefits. List all of the benefits of dealing with your clinic business and have them visible everywhere. Don’t just rely on yourself and your staff to tell patients - have these benefits in everyone’s view every day. Put them on all your advertising material, on your windows, on your newsletters, and on your business cards. Actually, your business card should be the number one brochure for your business. Don’t waste your money by just putting your name and contact details on it, but also use it to sell your service and products.

Prospective patients want to know why they should come to your business and not your competitors. The reasons “why” are your benefits and they form your brand and what it stands for. So you must push your brand in front of everyone out there, and the best way to do this is to sell the benefits. Don’t sell the features, sell the benefits of your service and you will automatically sell the product - which is your TCM clinic - and get more profits.

Set out to create an image that people are drawn to and then be consistent in developing that image in the public eye. Create that perception of value by always “selling” your benefits.

This article is an excerpt from “How to get more profits from your clinic – even if you have little or no money!” Gavin Hurlimann is the editor in chief of the NZRA Journal of TCM, a practicing acupuncturist in Auckland, New Zealand and an acknowledged expert in marketing for healthcare practitioners. For more info, email: