Advertising is designed to capture attention, build name recognition, increase knowledge, and get people to act. Sounds good, right? All you do is pay somebody else to tell people to buy your services. But hold on for a minute. According to the book Advertising and Sales Promotion Strategy by Gerard Tellis, half of all advertising is ineffective. Advertising can be particularly challenging because people are constantly bombarded by messages encouraging them to buy. Advertising also tends to be expensive (and unless you are Pepsi or Coke you care about that), so make sure you create an impact.
4 steps to writing a great ad
To write a good ad, follow these steps.
- Grab people’s attention with a headline that tells them up front, which of their problems you are going to solve. They want to know if you are going to relieve their pain and stress, or that your services focus on athletes, pregnant women, or seniors. For example, use a one-line attention-grabber like: “We relieve neck and shoulder pain,” or “Stress Reduction Specialists,” or “Over 60? We can relieve your aches and pains.”
- Include a call to action, such as: “Call today for an appointment,” or “Call before May 30 for half-off your first appointment.” Don’t leave it up to your audience to know what to do next.
- Your name and logo should always be prominent, particularly if few people know about you. If you are starting a practice or not yet well known in your community, concentrate on building name recognition with your ad.
- Once you choose a method of advertising, stick with it long enough to see the outcome. You will not see instantaneous results! It is usually better to keep the same message or media outlet for a while—say a year. That means choosing well how to invest your limited dollars. Your outlay will probably include creating an attractive ad, perhaps even hiring a graphic designer to come up with something that will draw peoples’ eyes.
Choose your medium — 4 options
Let’s explore some advertising venues: display ads, radio, direct mail, and email.
Display Ads: Newspaper or magazine ads can be expensive and will only be effective if you run them consistently for some time. Remember to consider publications that focus on alternative health modalities. If you advertise in these, you will probably have to compete with businesses like yours, so concentrate on standing out from the crowd. Be specific about your target client or the specific benefits your work offers. Another tip is to contact the health, lifestyle, or business editor of the publication to see if stories relevant to your practice will be released in the upcoming weeks. Have them place your ad in that specific issue.
Radio: The idea of using radio may not be as outlandish, or as expensive, as it sounds. You do have to run ads frequently. But first, ask your clients which stations they listen to if you want more clients like them. Make a recorded commercial, at the station or on your own, with some relaxing music, and a clear, calming voice. Write an ad with a straight-forward message, mentioning the name of your business as many times as possible, and a call to action such as: “Call 555-5555 to schedule a relaxing, rejuvenating massage.”
Direct mail: Mailing coupons to everyone in your community is an easy form of direct mail advertising, in packages like ValPak® and Money Mailer®. This can be expensive though, and is a horrible way to hit your target market. Instead, ask your direct mail company if they have segmented lists. In other words, can they target say, active women 35-45 within a 5-mile radius of your office? When you do target advertising, you narrow the field to people who you know are more likely to be interested in your service. Browse through our postcard artwork for ideas to help you create the perfect mailing for your practice.
Email: You already have mailing list. In fact, you probably have a list of all your current and past clients, anyone who has received a massage from you during your schooling or anywhere else, anyone who has attended a presentation, and anyone you’ve met at meetings or other professional gatherings. If you haven’t been collecting their email addresses, you need to start now. And if you are not collecting emails from visitors to your website, you are missing out on potential new clients. Make sure you have a sign-up form of some kind that lets visitors “sign-up to receive health and wellness information” or something like that.
Email is the cheapest and easiest form of advertising, because once you have an email marketing system set up, you can create your own messages and send them yourself, whenever you want. Some email marketing platforms allow you to automate certain message to go out at certain times: like welcome kits to new clients, or reminders when someone hasn’t been in for a while, or regular newsletters, or happy birthday messages. Yes, you usually pay for those platforms, but if it becomes your only advertising expense, it may be worth it.
Email marketing is the way modern, professional businesses communicate (check your inbox if you need proof), and if it’s your system, you can segment your list any way you want. For example, maybe you want to send a message about a last-minute weekend cancellation to all your clients that prefer weekend appointments.
Ask your clients
To be effective, run frequent ads with the same consistent message in only two or three different mediums. If you are unsure which venues to use, ask your clients! What local publications do they read, what radio stations do they listen to, do they open their emails or read the postcards they get in the mail?
Remember the personal touch
Practitioners often report that reaching out with a personal connection with people can be more effective and cost less than advertising (because you trade your time for actual dollars). Giving presentations in your community, doing chair massage at events, and selling gift certificates, are a few promotional activities that allow you to make a more personal connection with people while boosting your practice.