When you advertise online especially on Google Adwords, your ads will only be seen by people searching for an acupuncturist in your local area. Your ads will not be seen by people searching for a plumber, a dog groomer or a pizza joint.
Not only that, but you don’t pay for impressions (how many times your ad is displayed,) you only pay when your ad is clicked. These two factors are what distinguish online marketing from offline marketing. Let me explain why.
Newspapers charge for advertising by the size of the ad. While the size of an ad does impact the response, what you need to pay attention to is how the ad is delivered. Here’s what I mean… The newspaper model is based on circulation. Unlike Google which only displays your ads when the user enters a specific keyword in the search bar, newspapers deliver your ad to everybody and their brother. What’s the problem with this? The problem is that there is a lot of waste because there will be thousands or hundreds of thousands of people who don’t need, want or are interested in acupuncture. You are in fact paying to deliver your acupuncture marketing message to a lot of people who are not your target audience.
To make things worse, newspapers are still stubbornly stuck in their pricing model. When you advertise in a newspaper, the newspaper quotes you prices based on how many times you will run the ad. The more you run the ad, the less you pay. It is cost prohibitive to run a newspaper ad once because the newspaper will charge you a small fortune. Ten years ago when the public was still reading newspapers, the newspapers could demand whatever price they wanted from the advertiser. But today the newspapers are in big trouble. They are going out of business in record numbers because people are getting their news online, especially the younger demographics.
You would think they’d be scrambling to figure out how to survive by changing their ways, but maybe they don’t stand a chance anyway. It’s the evolution of technology that brings about these changes. But what irks me about newspapers is that they still price their advertising based on the old model which no longer works. They love to get your money up front by charging less per ad, but they really don’t care if your ad works or not because they already have your money. They penalize the advertiser who wants to run an ad once or twice. They know there’s a good chance they’re not going to see that advertiser again because the ad response will probably be poor. You see, in order to maximize the effectiveness of your advertising you must test it first. You have to test the headline, message, appeal and offer. Once you have an ad that works, then you roll it out big, but not until then.
They will say you must run your ad continuously so people get used to seeing it and call you, but that’s a load of crap! Yes, repetition in advertising is important, but more important is to have a winning ad that pays for itself and makes you money. And the only way to achieve that is by testing and improving it. Then you can roll it out when you have a winner. You can do that online but you can’t do it with newspapers.
To make matters worse, newspaper circulation has dropped so much that I think they are going the way of the dinosaur. Their readership has moved online, so as an advertiser, not only do you get penalized for buying advertising in small chunks to test, but circulation is down so much that it doesn’t make sense to advertise in print. Not for acupuncturists anyway. Look at the numbers below. They are from 2009. The column on the right shows the percentage loss in circulation.
1. New York Post -20.55
2. Atlanta Journal Constitution -19.91
3. Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.) -16.82
4. San Francisco Chronicle -15.72
5. Daily News (N.Y.) -14.26
6. Houston Chronicle -13.96
7. Philadelphia Inquirer -13.72
8. Boston Globe -13.68
9. Portland Oregonian -11.76
10. Cleveland Plain-Dealer -11.70
11. St. Petersburg Times (Fla.) -10.42
I guess you can tell I’m bias towards online marketing, but I speak the truth. And it’s only going to get worse. I’m not saying acupuncture advertising in newspaper doesn’t work. What I am saying is that you have to be very careful because two things are going to happen;
1. Your ad is going to be seen by hundreds if not hundreds of thousands of people who are not looking for an acupuncturist. Those are wasted advertising dollars.
2. If you don’t use direct marketing principles in your ad, it doesn’t stand a chance in getting those who are interested to take action.
How To Get The Most Out Of Newspaper Advertising.
My first recommendation is you stay away from the big daily in your city. That’s the big city newspaper. Try to look for a community newspaper that is published weekly or monthly. Your rates will be considerably lower which will allow you to test your ads as you go. Tell the sales rep that you want to be a long term advertiser but they’ll need to work with you. Here’s what I mean…
You’ll want your ad to be within the first 9 pages of the publication. This goes for magazines too. You’ll want your ad to appear in odd number pages. Those would be the right hand pages. If for some reason the pages are numbered with the odd numbers on the left you still want to be on the right hand pages. You’ll want your ad to be as close as possible to the right side edge on the right sided pages. I’m not saying this may be easy to accomplish. I’m telling you what you should shoot for. Testing has shown that ads placed as I mention here dramatically out pull other ads in the publication.
Why Do People Read Newspapers?
You’ll probably never try the following approach because I’m certain you have it ingrained in your mind how a newspaper ad should look, but you can’t say Frank Prieto never told you.
Why do people read newspapers? They read newspapers for the news. People don’t buy newspaper to read the advertisements. Well, I do but I’m a strange bird. Seriously… If you want your ad to get read, don’t make it look like an ad. Make it look like a news story or another article in the paper.
What is an Advertorial?
An advertorial is an advertisement that looks like another news story in the newspaper (see figure 1.) They are very effective if done right and you incorporate direct marketing principles. By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m showing the Boston Medical advertorial as an example is because I haven’t found another company testing their ads in my local newspaper. I can tell by the way they test their ads, this company hired a marketing firm instead of an ad agency. As I dissect the ad in a minute, you’ll see how they use direct marketing principles. If they would have hired an ad agency it is very unlikely you’d see this kind of testing, or even see an advertorial.
Advertorial stands for advertising/editorial. The job of an advertorial is to disguise an advertisement as a news story. In the example above is an advertorial that happens to be for a clinic helping men with sexual dysfunction. I chose this example because it has been the only advertiser I have actually seen test one ad type against another in the newspaper. Please don’t make the mistake many business owners make when presented with advertising examples of a different product or industry. They assume that because their business is different, the
advertising will not work for them. If you take this approach, you are likely to miss out on finding advertising gems you could apply in your own acupuncture practice that can make a dramatic impact on your bottom line. In just about every case, a marketing idea from one industry can be applied to another and boost the return on your advertising investment.
The Typical Advertorial.
In the last few years newspapers have gotten stricter about advertorials and some don’t allow them at all. The newspapers that allow advertorials require you put the word “Advertisement” at the top in small print (about 10pt size.) Testing has shown that putting the word advertisement at the top of the advertorial, surprisingly does not affect the response rate. What all newspapers do not allow is that you use the same font (type face) in your advertorial they use to print the paper. But there are many similar fonts you can use that still make it look like another news story. I can understand why some newspapers don’t allow advertorials. They need to uphold their journalistic integrity and have a responsibility to protect the public from certain unscrupulous advertisers who will scam the public and won’t think about it twice. But since we are legitimate business people we shouldn’t have a problem using advertorials.
Advertorials are very effective and will increase your response rate dramatically. I highly recommend them and don’t have a problem creating them for my clients, as long as the client is running a legitimate business. Advertorials are one more marketing tool at your disposal that can turn out to be very effective.
Because an advertorial is supposed to look like a news story, you have to deliver your acupuncture marketing message in a way that is not self serving and is free of hype . You still get an opportunity to put a call to action, but it’s done in the resource box at the end of the article.
Frank Prieto is a marketing strategist helping acupuncturists generate highly qualified leads from the internet and converting more of them into new patients.