Health Care Marketing Series – Marketing Effectiveness and Efficiency – Warheads and Missiles

We have previously discussed the research needed to create a marketing strategy that identifies a target demographic. The purpose of this research is to allow us to compare our relative strengths and weaknesses verses our direct competitors strength and weaknesses within the marketplace. Once our relative position in the competitive marketplace has been researched, a strategy that pits our strength against our competitor’s weaknesses can be formulated. This process is called marketing strategy.

Part of the marketing strategy is to formulate headlines and ad copy based on our relative position in the marketplace. We want our marketing to highlight our relative strengths against the relative weakness of our direct competition. All of this positioning must be crafted within the context of the solution to a specific problem that exists in a coveted demographic within our marketplace. The ultimate goal is to create a perception within the collective minds of our demographic that we have the best answer to solve their specific problem. This well researched, well crafted message is our marketing warhead.

The more congruent our message is with the wants and desires of our coveted market demographic, the bigger bang we will receive from our marketing efforts. This “bang” is measured as our response rate. This process of marketing strategy sends us into battle (contention for potential patients) under advantageous conditions. The process we have just described is the definition of marketing strategy. The better the marketing strategy, more effective the headline and ad copy. Notice that we stated the better the strategy the more effective the headline and copy will be. We didn’t say the more effective the marketing campaign will be. This is because there is one more major consideration that helps to determine how effective or ineffective a marketing campaign will be. The other piece of the puzzle is your delivery systems.

If the strategy and the headlines and ad copy are the warhead of your marketing campaigns, the next step in successful marketing is the missile or delivery system.

The variables for marketing success are the quality of your research, the art and science of your strategy development, the alignment of your headline and ad copy with your marketing strategy and finally the efficiency and cost effectiveness of your delivery systems.

You can have a nuclear warhead when it comes to knowledgeable strategy, headline and ad copy, but will obtain mediocre results if you choose a weak delivery system. Conversely you may have the best most effective delivery system and obtain marginal marketing results if your strategy, headline and copy are weak.

Optimizing all three components and constantly testing and perfecting these aspects of your marketing campaign is the key to effective, efficient and profitable marketing that produces a handsome return on investment.

We have discussed the intricacies of developing marketing strategy in another paper. The marketing metrics required to evaluate the return on investment (which is another way to say the marketing efficiency) has been discussed in a previous paper. This paper will integrate marketing strategy and research with marketing metrics to create a framework with which to evaluate marketing delivery systems. This process is a real world method for first determining and then improving both marketing effectiveness and marketing efficiency.

Before we can evaluate our marketing effectiveness and efficiency we must first define marketing effectiveness and efficacy.

Marketing effectiveness is how well a campaign or the action steps within a campaign’s execution produce a favorable response. What is a favorable response and how do we know if we got one? Well despite what marketing aficionados might tell you, marketing execution can be measured. There are several tangible measurements that matter and they are new (or repeat) business depending on your strategy, revenue increase and profit

Your marketing strategy can be judged to be effective if 1. It produces new business, 2. It increases revenues and 3. It increases profit.

It has nothing to do with image, branding, awareness or intangible returns.

In the context of marketing a professional practice, new business would be “kept” new patient appointments. Revenue is the gross collections increase from previous months and profits means your return on investments, also expresses as increased revenue minus the cost of your marketing effort.

By themselves these measures can give you a good handle on the effectiveness or not of your marketing execution. The next step is to eliminate marketing action steps that are not effective and to optimize those marketing activities that are proven to be effective. Once marketing effectiveness and marketing efficiency are optimized you merely repeat the most effective and efficient action steps. Again and again.

This process is impossible without marketing metrics and return on investment measurement. In fact according to the Harvard Business School no marketing action plan is complete without steps to measure and evaluate the implementation of a campaign. (1)

(1) Harvard Business Essentials

Marketer’s Toolkit

Harvard Business School Press 2006

Let’s look at an example at how all this works. Let’s compare giveaway coffee mugs with a full color print on demand booklet. Online print on demand printers can produce a 6.5 x 9 inch full color saddle stitch booklet at a cost of $6.50 per unit. Let’s compare this against a custom imprinted coffee mug, available for an average cost for mugs of about $1.50

At first glance the mugs seem like a much better marketing investment.

But are they? Let’s say our coveted marketing demographic is women ages 35 to 55 and we have found through are research that this market segment has a health problem: menopause or perimenopause.

First let’s look at headline opportunities.

With the coffee mug you are severely limited by space. You’ll need to try to create a slick trendy and catchy headline. Something like:

“Got Hormones?”

There is not much room on a mug to do much else. What are our options with the print on demand booklet? With the booklet, space constraints are not an issue.

Here are several options:

- “A doctor’s guide to choosing the best treatment options for your perimenopausal symptoms”
- “Tired all the time, irritable, depressed, gaining weight? These are symptoms of perimenopause” “Learn about modern treatment options.”
- “What every women should know about perimenopause and how she can feel good again.”

Really with the space the booklet provides the headline can be extremely specific. You can use subtitles and even an excerpt from the content on the cover. So in terms of our warhead, which one do you think produces a bigger bang?

“Got Hormones?” or “Tired all the time, irritable, depressed, gaining weight? These are symptoms of pre menopause” “Learn about modern treatment options.”

With the coffee cup the story ends here. Because of space restrictions you can’t really get much more detailed. You might put your name on the mug, but you would be hard pressed to add much more information. The catchy headline “Got Hormones?” hopefully will start conversations about you and your services. The downside of this is obvious however. If you give your coffee cups to a patient or the owner of a trendy salon and if one of her customers sees the mug and asks the proprietor about hormone replacement, what are the odds that layperson can represent you and your services in a dramatic, appealing and informative way? Patients rarely remember to take their medications yet alone the reasons why they should and all available options you discussed with them.

In other words, the coffee cup doesn’t allow you to give enough information to sell your service to a prospect. It relies on third party information. The coffee cup hits a dead end rather quickly.

So in terms of a marketing warhead the coffee cup is more fizzle than bang. There is simply not enough space on the cup to allow you to create a headline that is in alignment with your target markets’ problem, yet alone enough space to educate her on how you have the solution to that problem. In other words, there is no way, using a coffee cup, to position you and your service in the mind of a prospective patient. Unless of course you sell coffee.

In terms of effectiveness, the coffee cup while seemingly relatively inexpensive is of dubious effectiveness. It doesn’t matter how cheep the mugs are, if they are not effective they are expensive.

Let’s go back to our full color booklet.

It’s full color so you can use appealing photos and graphics. There is plenty of room on the cover to place a well thought out headline that will stimulate your target to read the copy. Then there is the copy. With 15 pages you have plenty of time and space to sell yourself as the answer to your prospect’s problem.

You should always include a section that details your education and experience. This has been termed your unique selling proposition (USP) or your exceptional value statement (EVS). It is your chance to toot your own horn and you should toot it loudly. The purpose of the EVS is to position you in the prospect’s mind as the “go to” doctor. Your EVS must be powerful enough to motivate the prospective patient to drive by hundreds of other doctors on the way to your office. So spend some time on it and if you don’t feel comfortable talking about yourself, have someone read your CV and write your exceptional value statement for you.

Next let’s consider the body of your ad copy. This is where your research and marketing strategy comes into play. In your booklet you are going to list the basic approach of all your competitors. This may seem counter intuitive but remember you will be highlighting their weaknesses as you go. You are going to offer up alternatives to your own treatment approach, but frame them in a way that showcases their (your direct competitor’s) specific weaknesses. You slowly introduce your answer to the prospect’s problems. If your copy writer is talented, he or she should be able to bring the prospect along so by the end of your information booklet, the only logical conclusion for the reader is that you have the best answer to their problem. Never bash your competition, only frame your comparison highlighting the strengths of your approach compared with the relative weaknesses of your competition.

This shouldn’t be too difficult if you have developed marketing strategy as we discussed in previous papers.

Now within the booklet you should always include multiple ways for your readers to respond. Of course your office address and phone number, but also your web address and email. Perhaps an invitation to take an on line survey and of course your innovative Ask-the-Doctor program. How about a detachable postcard?

All of these methods of response should be interspersed throughout the text of your booklet. Not hidden at the very end.

The most important thing to remember is that your booklet should include valuable information. Don’t worry that you might be giving something away for free. If your information helps the patient they will consider you an expert. They will consult with you when they need help. They will already know that you can help them, because you already have.

Consumers are deluged with advertising offers. Research shows they are more likely to read marketing material if it contains valuable information that will likely benefit them. If your booklet is valuable it will have staying power. It may also be copied and passed around. It might be a good time to mention that you should waive the copyright and tell the reader to feel free to make copies and pass the booklet around.

So after reading this article do you still think that coffee mugs are an effective way to market? Are they efficient? They may cost less than a full color booklet, but do you think they are more cost effective?

Direct Mail For Advertising in a Competitive World

Direct mail is a marketing concept which is also known as ad mail or junk mail, though many postal services refrain from lending credence to the latter. Direct mail evolved as a new avenue in advertising which sought to target a particular group of individuals. It was originally successful among the rural population in most demographics, who had limited access to many popular products owing to their isolation. Mail helped these rural consumers order products using order forms and price catalogs that described the qualities and attributes of the products as well as listed out the prices.

Direct mail traditionally consisted of consumer centric mails that were sent out to a target group of people who had previously ordered or inquired about a particular product via mail. Mailing lists were made and addresses of purchasers were procured. The information that was already available with the advertisers was used to determine which products would sell best with a particular group of individuals, and the targeting was done accordingly.

The advance of technology has seen a lot of changes happening in the field of marketing and advertising, and it has also affected the direct mail marketing. Traditional modes of sending paper mails that sometimes also included an option to try out a sample of a product or included CD’s were quite popular and remained so until recently with the introduction of direct email marketing which involved sending electronic mail instead of paper mails to target recipients.

Many studies have been conducted to determine which of the two mediums are most effective and the results are not conclusive enough to permit a ranking. The direct mail marketing technique that sends out mails to people’s mailboxes has the added advantage that it is seen and sometimes opened before being chucked away into the dustbin or ideally generates a lead. The direct email marketing technique on the other hand does not even get a chance to be viewed by the recipient as it gets automatically filtered by spam filters that are very common and used by many popular email service providers.

The advantages of using direct mail for advertising is the personal touch that it lends. The advertiser can choose to address it to the recipient, customize the text contained within the mail with respect to the recipient and tailor the contents to suit the possible consumer needs of the recipient. The inclusion of website addresses or toll free numbers that the consumer can call up and place an order on instead of actually filling out a form and posting it, also help reduce the effort involved, thereby making it an attractive proposition. The good thing about direct mail marketing from an advertisers perspective is that it helps focus on particular target groups that are more prone to purchasing a particular product. The advantage it holds with the consumer is of ease of access to the product of their choice and a wide choice of products. Usually the products sold through direct marketing, live up to the expectations of the consumers.

Direct Mail Marketing: A Better Way?

It’s often called “Junque Mail.” And with good reason! Why the fancy spelling? Because any way you spell it, “junk mail” is often very expensive – and not always profitable.

Actually – and take it from someone who was once responsible for upward of 50 million pieces of direct mail a year – the return on investment (ROI) is often marginal at best.

First off, there are no guarantees of success. In most cases the advertiser will be lucky if even two people out of 100 who receive a particular piece of direct mail buy what’s being offered. That means 980 recipients out of ever 1,000 who receive that direct mail “package” or “kit” as they’re known, will throw it out.

At a cost of between $500 and $800 per thousand kits to produce, that’s a lot of precious advertising dollars ending up in the trash bin. For the uninitiated, a “package” or “kit” includes a variety of items in the envelope reaching a home.

There’s the traditional sales letter, usually from one to four pages long. Then the brochure describing in words and pictures what that sales letter could describe only in words. There’s also a “response device.” Never call it an Order Form. Heaven forbid! It can be called a “Membership Application,” a “Certificate,” a “Response Card,” but never an “Order Form” because people baulk at ordering.

“Ordering” anything instantly communicates the expectation that the person ordering will have to pay for what was ordered. But “joining” or “responding”? Well, it may take a little longer to realize, but that, too, must be paid for.

In addition to the all of the above, there’s also the postage-paid “BRE,” short for Business Reply Envelope. Or the no-postage-paid, preaddressed “CRE,” Courtesy Reply Envelope. Gotta have something to put that “Membership Application” in, right?

Oh, and most kits also include the infamous “lift note,” a little piece of colored paper that says in essence, “If you’ve decided not to accept our offer, but before you throw our expensive direct mail package in with the trash, please read this.” It’s a last ditch attempt to get you to do what? To order, of course!

And did I mention one of the major roadblocks to using direct mail kits? Getting people to actually open the envelope in which all that stuff is stuffed. Unless there’s a “grabber” printed on the front of that envelope, a few choice words that make a recipient want to instantly tear open the envelope, that recipient, along with 98 percent of the others, will pitch their unopened envelopes in the waste basket. And, yes, there are specialists who get paid big bucks to right effective “grabber” words.

Is there a better way, a less expensive way, a more effective way to use the mail to sell an individual product or service? My suggestion, based on how well they seem to be working for a growing number of companies, is postcards. No, not those dinky little old-fashioned ones. I’m talking about really big postcards, giant postcards, living color postcards, even die-cut postcards, ones in the shapes of cars, or trucks, or cuddly kitty cats.

With these kinds of postcards, there’s no envelope that most be opened before an offer can be read. The message, whatever product, service or idea is being sold, will be right there in gorgeous living color for the world to see. And, because of limited space – a smaller “canvas” on which to paint a rosy word picture of the product or service – there will be fewer words for the recipient to read. Strange as it seems, people seem to avoid reading these days. They do, however, like colorful pictures.

Mailing list costs are the same for postcards or kits, but the cost of printing postcards will be significantly less. No longer in that $500 to $800 range. Less than half of that. Much less. So, if you want to be a real standout in someone’s mail box, testing several types of postcards could be worth your effort. Testing, after all, is a large part of what marketing is all about.