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Cheerios Busted...

Something significant happened this week in the world of health advertising.

The Food and Drug Administration told General Mills to change their ways when it comes to advertising the health benefits of Cheerios.  The agency claims that the way Cheerios promotes its health benefits is appropriate only for FDA-approved drugs.  I guess they’d rather have us popping statin drugs.

The Fe
deral Trade Commission went after Frosted Mini-Wheats a few weeks ago for something similar.

Its mind boggling to me that the federal government is getting into this minutia when kids are drinking gallons of Coke, getting vaccinated like they were pin-cushions, and being prescribed Adderall like it’s going out of style.

If they’d ask me, I’d say leave Cheerios alone, and "get a life." But, they didn’t ask me.

Here’s the thing.  How long will it be befor
e the FDA and FTC will be telling us what we can say about chiropractic’s benefits in our advertising?  Remember, Tedd Koren, D.C. fought the FTC courageously years ago, and won.  But that doesn’t mean they aren’t coming back.

The best thing we can do to prevent an attack by these regulators is to be honest in our advertising.  Making unsubstantiated claims will make us a target, like Cheerios.

The Saffron Story...

He was a really beautiful little guy.  With his unique and curious habits, at first he was a pleasure to have around.

My daughter named him Saffron when he was just a day old.  As far as roosters go, Saffron was definitely different.  He had an unmatched boldness to his personality, with long flowing tail feathers to match.  Saffron was the only one of the flock courageous enough to occasionally walk the fifty yards to our garage, right past our two massive guard dogs, to steal the cat food.

That bird was extraordinary.  But, after a while, he got lazy.  Instead of foraging the fields for seeds and bugs with the others, Saffron became a cat-food junkie.  He soon got into the habit of visiting the garage and crowing as loud as he could when the cat’s bowl was empty.  

That wasn’t so bad at first.

It became slightly more annoying, though, when he’d show up at daybreak and begin crowing.  But, heck, we had to get up for work anyway. 

What got bad was his appearance on weekends, when we’d be hoping for an extra hour of sleep. Eventually, the crumby little rooster started ruining every Saturday and Sunday morning. 

Shooting him was possible, but against the rules on our farm.  Ringing his stupid little neck was against the rules, too.  We are kind to animals here; no matter how much we hate them.  I began to hope that a hawk would snatch the little creep.  Many of our birds met that fate, but not Saffron.  Maybe he’d choke on Kibbles and Bits, or die of obesity.  Maybe lightning would fry him. 

But, no, Saffron was indestructible. And, he was determined to never let us sleep a second past the first light of day.

For a year and a half, that rotten bird woke us up every morning. 

That is, until yesterday.

Yesterday, I was working by the barn and the awful rooster-from-hell was crowing his head off right next to me, trying to make me go deaf.  He got a little too close and with a quick grab, I caught him in mid-crow.

I drove Saffron down the road to a neighbor’s farm where he is now, happy in his new flock, probably searching for cat food.

Advertising can be like the Saffron story.  At first, your ads can be unique, and something to talk about.  But, ads can become unwelcome if they are seen too often.   You can burn out your market. 

So, spread out your ads, and find other publications to put them in.  "Pounding" your market with your ads over and over again, especially in a smaller town, can work against you.

Piña Coladas and Safety...

Right now, I’m on the east side of Grand Cayman with my family.  This side of the island is fairly unpopulated.  It’s quiet, and has beautiful coral reefs right off the shore.

It’s sunny, breezy, and 86 degrees and I’m enjoying a piña colada.  If I close my eyes and if the wind is just right, I can smell Castro’s cigar smoke wafting across the sea from Havana.

We like it here.

The Cayman Islands are famous for a few things.  They are best known for being an international banking center.  It’s one of the places in the world where people “hide” money overseas.  Cayman natives enjoy the highest standard of living of any Carib
bean location. 

The Caymans are also famous for their giant stingrays.  People come here from all over the world to swim with them.

The Caymans are also famous for its extremely low crime rate.  Many people choose to travel to this particular Caribbean location because of that low crime rate.  Except for daredevils, people like to feel safe.

Safety is important.

Every chiropractor knows that chiropractic is extraordinarily safe.  But, few lay people know that.  We chiropractors should be spreading the word about the safety of chiropractic by what we say in th
e office, and what we say in our advertising.  And, let’s face it; the “alternatives” to us are often dangerous.

e Uninvited Guest..

It’s like a salesperson that sticks his big fat foot in your front door.

He’s polite, but you just don’t want him there; you’ve got other things to do. 

So, you decide to give the guy ten seconds to say something compelling before you’re going slam the door on his foot, or call the cops. 

The situation is similar with print advertising.  You are an "uninvited guest" attempting to replace the reader’s present thoughts with your own.   In order to become "invited" into the readers mind, you need to offer something more interesting than what he’s presently thinking.

If you are skilled enough to grab the reader’s attention with your headline, your next challenge is to offer him a first sentence that is equally compelling.  At every moment, the reader still has the option to stop reading and go on to something else.

Therefore the purpose of every sentence in your ad is to get the reader to read the next sentence. 

If your copy is written well enough, each sentence leads the reader down a slippery slope to the conclusion of your ad.  

Here are some examples of good first sentences:

"I’ve got to tell you something that I’ve never said out loud before."

"I know this seems crazy, but I have to get something off my chest."

"What I’m going to tell you makes so much sense that you’ll probably get mad that no one told you this before."

"OK, so I guess you can say I was busted... caught red-handed."

"My wife told me I shouldn’t write this, and we actually had a big ‘discussion’  about it."

"What I’m going to tell you is costing me $937 to say.  But, it’s worth it."
So, remember, as an uninvited guest in the reader’s mind, you could have the door slammed on your foot at any moment.  It’s your job to be so compelling that the reader won’t mind you being there.

"Save Some Good People from Bankruptcy..."

One thing that really irks me are those guys that wear black socks and Bermuda shorts on the beach.  But, that’s not really important. 

What is important are the billions of dollars wasted every year for expensive medical care that doesn’t work.  What bugs me even more is that the medics know (or should know) that the right choice for many patients is chiropractic. They are often bound, however, by the secret rules of the medical cartels in every town.

More people go through bankruptcy because of medical bills than any other reason.  So, shouldn’t we be spreading the word about how to save money with chiropractic? 

Yes, we should. 

Think about how much money you save your average patient.  Within the realm of conditions we usually see people for, medical care is almost always more expensive, and often ineffective.  People are often put through the medical mill, being referred from one doctor to another, leading to the specialist that says, “there’s nothing wrong with you”.

Consumers and insurance companies pay millions every day for expensive medical diagnostic testing designed to figure out what the hell is wrong with a patient with typical musculoskeletal complains.  Usually, they come up empty,  when a good chiropractor could easily figure it out (with his bare hands) that the patient has a vertebral subluxation.

How many people wind up in the ER every day for just migraines headaches?  How much do consumers and government entitlement programs pay daily for the MRI and CAT scans just for migraines? 

There are tons of studies showing the cost effectiveness of chiropractic care. One study tells us that ”a new retrospective analysis of 70,274 member-months in a 7-year period within an IPA, comparing medical management to chiropractic management, demonstrated decreases of 60.2% in-hospital admissions, 59.0% hospital days, 62.0% outpatient surgeries and procedures, and 83% pharmaceutical costs when compared with conventional medicine IPA performance. This clearly demonstrates that chiropractic non-surgical non-pharmaceutical approaches generates reductions in both clinical and cost utilization when compared with PCPs using conventional medicine alone.”

I’ve included the study above in the new Killer Ads V.

So, yes, it’s perfectly fine (within legal parameters) to tell people in your advertising that you may be able to help them save money.

"How Joe Karbo Almost Didn't Become a Multi-Millionaire..."

Forty years ago, Joe Karbo made a classic advertising mistake that almost ruined him.  It was the classic “too good to be true” mistake.

Joe used almost all his money to take out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles
Times offering to sell his book.  The headline of his ad read, “How to Earn $50,000 a Year the Lazy Way.” 

Although the ad copy was extremely compelling, very few people responded to Joe’s ad. 

Here’s why…
Forty years ago earning just $10,000 a year was good money.  But, earning $
50,000 a year was beyond most people’s comprehension.  People couldn’t “see it” in their mind’s eye, so they didn’t trust the claim.

Not to be deterred, Joe changed two words of his headline and re-published the ad.  “How to Make $20,000 a Year the Lazy Way” sold books like wildfire.  Now, the ad was believable.

Karbo published the same ad in major newspapers all across the country, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars, year after year.

Advertising, first and foremost, has to be believable.

Joe Karbo, I’ve hear, is a retired multi-millionaire living somewhere in Switzerland.

"Nature Needs No Help..."

We have a few horses on our farm.

Unlike many horses, ours have never seen the inside of a stall.  They live out in the pastures as nature intended.  In the fall, they grow thick coats to protect themselves from winter weather.  And yes, you can tell how severe the winter will be by how thick those coats are.  In early spring, they shed those coats and birds use the hair to build nests and raise their young.

Well before we know that tornados or thunder-storms are heading our way, our horses get nervous and seek shelter in places where they feel safer.

When I tell people that one of our horses is pregnant some of them ask, "What vet is going to deliver it?"  Or, they may ask, "Who’s going to cut the cord?"

When I explain that horses have been giving birth just fine all by themselves for thousands of years, that statement initially surprises them.  But, they quickly get that "ah-ha" look on their faces and say, "That makes sense."

Years of cultural bias and misinformation have caused many to believe that health is an "out-side" in process.  But, they quickly "get it" when they learn that nature doesn’t need help... it just needs no interference.

Chiropractic advertising that explains the chiropractic principle helps people "get it". Those ads attract more people than ones that refrain from explaining the Big Idea.

"Hyped Headlines..."

"Just weeks after leaving the White House...Bush Suicidal"

That’s the latest headline of The Globe Magazine.  
Okay, granted, the headline meets the first criteria of a good headline; it’s interesting. 

Millions of dopey Americans (like me) will pick up the publication and begin to read it.  If the line is short in the supermarket, some will actually buy the magazine rather than cut short their reading. 
However dopey, hype headlines sell. 

The Globe Magazine has a different standard than we do as health care providers. We can’t use headlines or copy that are untrue in anyway.  Our Boards won’t allow it.

Yes, we could attract more prospects with hyped up headlines.  But, we can’t, and shouldn’t advertise that way.

However, there are ways to advertise legally and effectively without getting a dreaded letter from the Board.

"Don't Let a Brain Surgeon Tile Your Bathroom..."

Brain surgeons are well-known for being brilliant. 

As brilliant as they may be, I wouldn’t let one of them tile my bathroom.  I’ll let a tile guy do that.  Even if a brain surgeon offered to do the job for free, I’d still pay a tile contractor to do the work.

Here’s why...

The tile guy does this work every day, and I know the job will be done right. 

This week I did some copywriting work for a guy who is obviously brilliant.  He’s got more degrees than a thermometer, and he has a fabulous product.  But that product isn’t selling well.  When he showed me his "homemade" marketing materials, I immediately knew why his results were so poor. 

He was a brain surgeon doing tile work. Basically, he was trying to re-invent the wheel, and he wasted a lot of money doing that. 

The lesson here is never attempt to reinvent the wheel when it comes to advertising.  You can be the smartest guy in the world, but if you don’t follow the proven rules, you’ll just waste money.

P.S. And, don’t let a tile contractor do brain surgery on you.

"The Shrinking Insurance Dollar..."

I checked the new Stimulus Bill last night.  There's nothing in it to fund better chiropractic insurance.

Anyone who has been in practice for even three years has seen insurance coverage dwindle.

Let’s face it.

If you are depending on insurance in your practice, you may be disappointed someday. Depending on where you are, or the plans you are in, that "someday" may be three years, next year, or next month. 

But, the reality is, the trend in insurance is to raise deductibles, increase co-pays, or drop chiropractic coverage all together.  $2000, $5000, or $10,000 deductible plans are becoming more and more common. In other words, many patients are paying for care completely on their own, and getting the most for their money is important to them.

These people are looking for a good doctor with an affordable fee.  If that’s you, and you can spread that message in your advertising.  You can bring in these people by the truckload.

"The Trust Business..."

Bernie Goldberg is a journalist with six Emmy awards.  So, when Bernie has something to say, it’s always a learning experience.

In an interview the other day, Bernie discussed the decline in readership and advertising revenues of many newspapers.  Some newspapers have gone out of business, and many are hurting badly. 

To keep afloat, the New York Times Company just had to borrow 250 million at 14% from Carlos Slim Helu, the second richest man in the world.  At 14%, it’s obvious Carlos knows he’s taking a huge risk.

There are several factors that newspapers, and even some television news shows, are hurting.  One reason is that they don’t always tell the truth, and people know it.   Without trust, readers or viewers decline rapidly. 

Bernie said something about journalism that’s important for us to remember.  He said, “We are in the trust business.”

Those of us who advertise are also in the trust business.  In fact, the most important aspect of any ad we put out is that it communicates trust.

"Doing Your Part for this Lousy Economy..."

This week, like every week, millions of people will get headaches.

Many of these people will see their medical doctors, who will send them to neurologists, who will send them for MRIs and CAT scans.  Then they will be put on powerful drugs that don't work, or leave them zombie-like. 

For each one of these thousands of patients, the cost will be thousands.  That adds up to millions, perhaps billions.  For a good percentage of these people, the "government" (that's actually you and I through taxes) will pick up the cost of their "health" expenses. 

Every chiropractor sees these headache patients every week in their offices.  And, after a short series of adjustments, their headaches are gone, almost like magic.  In fact, if they don't get better, you are surprised.  Right?

Just these headache people represent a colossal waste of hard-earned money and government tax money.  Many will suffer a bankruptcy as a result of their unnecessary medical bills. 

And, that's just headaches.  Magnify this scenario by all the problems chiropractors deal with by the millions of people who will go the wasteful traditional route instead of seeing us first.  The waste of money is staggering. 

Right now the economy stinks because people are afraid of spending.  The economy thrives when people are no longer fearful, and money is flowing again through the  private sector.  When people get well by spending money on chiropractic care, that's good for them, it's good for us, and good for the economy. 

Can you imagine the cost savings to people and the government if people knew the truth?  The more people understand the truth about chiropractic, the better it is for the economy.  Tell people the truth in your advertising.

"The Law of Candor..."
In advertising, it’s sometimes called the Law of Candor.

The Law of Candor tells us that when done correctly, expressing a negative about your service in advertising can actually attract business.

When people read (or hear) a negative about a product or service coming from the advertiser, they tend to immediately pay attention and open their minds.

And, once their minds are open, they are open for the positive, too. The Law of Candor technique expresses honesty and causes the benefits to look even better.

Let’s look at two examples of the Law of Candor:

Years ago an ad claimed, "Listerine, the taste you’ll hate twice a day." The ad then went on to claim several wonderful benefits of the product. In just seven years the company's revenues rose from $115,000 to more than $8 million!

In 1962, Avis, trailing behind Hertz in the car rental business, began using the slogan, "We’re number two, and we try harder."

So, how can we use the Law of Candor?

Mention a minor drawback before touting a benefit.

Here’s what I mean:

1. "We can’t accept all patients, but we bend over backwards for the ones we do."

2. "We’re not in the most convenient location, but we’re worth the short drive."

3. "There’s no doubt that you can feel better faster and cheaper by taking a pill. But, is that really helping the cause of your problem? Our job is to get to the cause of your problem, and correct it."