"The Seven Secrets of Great Chiropractic Advertising..."

When I get the calls, sometimes I still can’t believe it myself. 

I recently got a call from a chiropractor that attracted 202 new patients with one ad in his newspaper.  Others have multiplied their practices seven times since they changed the way they advertised.  These doctors stopped following the crowd, and used a few suggestions I gave them, and very soon their whole lives changed.  And, in turn, they changed a multitude of lives for the better in their community. 

The biggest mistake professionals make when it comes to advertising is thinking that all “advertising” fits in one basket.  They may say, “Oh, I tried advertising…it didn’t work for me.”  The truth is that there are really two baskets of advertising.  There’s the very large basket of bad professional advertising, and the much smaller basket of effective professional advertising.

The business of chiropractic is different from most other professional businesses, and to advertise effectively, you need to know this distinction.   Everyone knows what a dentist, a lawyer, or a plastic surgeon does.  But, few in the lay public actually know what a chiropractor does.  And, those “in the know” may have a very limited view of what we do. We have to bridge that gap of understanding. 

Not only do we have that educational burden, but, sad to say, we rank low on the “trust factor” in the health care professions (while our patient satisfaction rating is the envy of all the others!).  As my friend told me last week, we have a great product with lousy branding.

So, in advertising, we’ve got some big hurdles to conquer.  We have to bridge the gap of understanding, build trust, and do even one more very important thing.  We’ve got to get people interested in reading what we have to say.  Like junk mail, the vast majority of ads in the paper don’t get read.  Fortunately, there are ways to surmount all of these hurdles.  Here are the secrets…

To catch a reader’s attention, use a terrific headline- Some authors will tell you that the headline is 80% of what makes a reader take notice of your ad.  I agree, and often think that it’s closer to 95%.  The best way to write headlines is to think of somebody who is very bored skimming through a newspaper.  What’s going to attract his attention?  Your headline must be so compelling and interesting that the reader thinks, “I’ve got to read this!”
A good copywriter spends more time on the headline then he does writing the body of the ad.  I once spent six hours writing and re-writing one of my headlines.  The body of the ad was a breeze compared to that.

Come from the heart, and get into people's thoughts and lives- If you come from the heart, and have the right intentions, people will trust you.  It’s known that people “buy” on emotion, and then rationalize their decision with logic.  So, write your ad “from the heart” and talk to people as if they were right in front of you.  Don’t write like a doctor.  Write as if you were talking to a friend, using simple words.  Use language that makes it clear that you are sincere, and are just like they are. When I finish an ad, I always try to step back and imagine John Q. Public reading it for the first time.

Offer people what they think they need, not what we think they need- Believe it or not, the lay-person doesn’t want to be subluxation-free (they don’t know what that means…yet).  They don’t want their Innate Intelligence expressing at full potential (not yet, that comes later).  People are self-oriented.  They want to feel good, and have better lives.  So your ads should be geared towards letting them know you can help them in what they are looking for.  You can only teach the lay person the “Big Idea” of the chiropractic lifestyle and wellness after he understands that you can help him in what he feels he needs now.  That’s how to reach the masses.

Tell a compelling story- Advertisements written in a “story” format do much better than ads that look like ads.  Some experts say that “adversorials” get seven times the readership as traditional ads.  The more story-like your ad is, the more readership you’ll have.  But, you must start off with a bang!  You’ve got only a few seconds to grab and hold a reader’s attention.

Stand out, and be different- Probably the worst ad sin you can make is to make your ad look typical.  These ads have no heart, no rapport, and no uniqueness to them.  Just because everyone else is doing something, doesn’t mean it works. 

Have an irresistible offer- People like special offers, and yes, even wealthy people like special offers.  People don’t like to pay high fees for initial visits where nothing is done to start actually correcting a problem.  They are willing to pay fair fees, however, for services that do start correcting the problem.  And, contrary to popular belief, a lower “front-end” fee does not attract the “bottom of the barrel.”  Figure out your patient visit average, and you’ll quickly see that financial success is in the “back-end.”
Good marketers know that offers that end in “7” do better.  A $37 new patient offer will out-pull a $35 new patient offer every time. 

Call people to action- It sounds almost funny but human nature is often such that if you don’t specifically tell someone what to do, they often won’t do it.  So, tell your readers what to do in your ad.  They should pick up the phone to call you to make an appointment.  There is a dramatic decline in response rate if the “call to action” is not clearly spelled out in your ad. 

Be honest and legal- Lastly, always tell the truth when advertising, and comply with your applicable regulations. 

If you follow these rules in your advertising, your results will increase dramatically.