The message is more important than the media yet more advertisers put more energy into where they place their ads than they do in what their ads say.

We were working with a great dentist who had the ability to do very difficult tooth reconstruction in one visit. They did not have to send work out to a lab. This saved the patient time and money. They had just added a second doctor to the staff. The challenge was finding a message that would compel a client to call. We did not feel that “One Stop Shop” was strong enough to hang their hat on so we were advising them on a different direction.

As time went by, and our recommendations were rejected, the client decided to buy some outdoor advertising to spike business. Their reasoning for outdoor was that they learned that a dental office in a nearby town was getting 50 calls a week from a billboard. They did not consider what message the other office was using, they simply trusted the medium.

The office that was getting 50 calls a week had a 10’ X 20’ sign on a freeway with this message “Gentle Dentistry, No Pain” a message that has meaning to the many that fear a trip to the dentist. With no regard to the message, our client decided to buy signs at bus stops with the message “Now Accepting New Patients”. We resigned the client before we could see the results, but having seen that the boards were quickly discontinued we can guess that they did not work.

When your ad doesn’t work the first thing you should question is the message, specifically, the headline. Is it talking to someone’s need or is it echoing a chant that no ones cares about? “Now accepting new patients” means nothing to the public. Find a message that stands out and satisfies a felt need. Give the reader a reason to call. For example a better approach for our dentist would have be, “Your time matters, we can meet your schedule” An advertisement implies you’re accepting new patients. There is no need to say it. With the “Your time matters, we can meet your schedule” you’re telling the busy people of the world that “Hey, don’t rearrange your life to meet our schedule, let us change our life’s to meet yours.

I promise to leave my dental work to dentists; I just wish dentists would leave their advertising work to people like us.