From Guest Blogger, Mr. X — He’s joining me at the next New Patient Extravaganza! Info here.

After a Long Day Hunched Over Patients Drilling and Filling All You Want To Do Is Enjoy Your DVR Programs, But…

It’s been a long day at the practice. You’ve spent the last 8+ hours hunched over patients. You’re now home resting in your easy chair. You’re looking forward to catching up on a long list of your favorite shows, which you’ve DVRd. It’s finally your time in front of the television. You’re trying to ‘come down’ from a full day at the practice, but still, in the back of your mind you can’t stop thinking about the business.

Then, on television you see a commercial for the local chain corporate dental practice. And then, during the same commercial break, you see an ad for the local replacement window and roofing company, and then one for the local day care center and you say to yourself, “I understand how the dental chains can advertise here, they’re big dumb companies with a lot of money to blow, but how can these small businesses advertise on TV” (when everyone knows that TV advertising for a small business is expensive… and doesn’t work; yet you keep seeing their commercials).

Two things are taking place. First, the national chains are pouring good money after bad into brand advertising and second, the local businesses are ‘trying’ TV because they heard it works. At least that’s what the ad rep told them. They want to believe it because they have find something that works better at bringing in the business.

Now for reality. There are two lies radio and TV ad reps will tell you… “Frequency and reach are the two most important criteria in mass media advertising”. That’s the first lie, the second is, “It takes time before you see results from radio or TV advertising”. Frequency and reach are the most important aspects in radio and TV. However, they (the ad rep) use a shotgun approach in placing your ads. As cable broadcasters they have the ability (power) to put you on a lot of different channels.

On average American households have access to 189 channels through their cable box and you can advertise on most, yet consumers watch only 17 channels regularly. But which 17 channels do you advertise on? You don’t know and neither does the ad rep. He or she will schedule you on a bunch of networks.

Their modus operandi is to build you a schedule they believe will give you the greatest frequency (how often people will see your commercial) and reach (how many people will see your commercial).

Here’s the problem. The schedule they build you is the same one they build for everyone. They’ll give a few premium channels (where most all your money is spent) and a lot of other channels for which they charge little per spot or give it away as free. If they’re giving you free air time it should raise a red flag, but it doesn’t. They sell hard on the idea the more channels you’re on the more likely your patients will see you.

Logically it makes sense, but it doesn’t work. They’re shot-gunning your ad in ‘hopes’ of getting it seen… and that somebody will respond. With local network TV you have fewer choices (at a higher per spot rate), but the challenges are the same. The same goes with radio.

In the frequency/reach equation reach is the more important. There are 3 components to reach,

  • Reaching your target audience
  • On the right network(s) and in
  • The right programming

To be effective with radio and TV advertising it requires good math. But their math and yours are different.

They’re in the business of selling advertising time and you’re in the business of putting patient butts in op chairs. Their math works a lot like an insurance company calculates the probability of a catastrophic event happening… based on all data.

The ad reps create your broadcast schedule. The schedule is really nothing more than a computer program that places your commercials at random on target networks, within a loose approximation of time. The frequency and reach of that schedule is entirely based on how much money you can spend.

This isn’t effective advertising, it’s putting on a blindfold and throwing a dart in hopes of coming close to hitting a dart board. If you’ve ever been to a bar where they have dart boards then you know there are far more dart holes off the board than on.

Now, for their second lie, “It takes time before you see results from radio and TV advertising.” This is because they don’t know how to structure a great direct response marketing message. TV, cable and radio ad reps know as much about building a good advertising message as Hollywood celebrities know about politics.

To the networks and ad reps, television is art. They think what looks good produces the best results. As a small business, you can’t operate on this theory, you need results, right now… paying patients. You don’t have their luxury of time. They want to sell you a long advertising contract because their product is a fleeting one. Every second that goes unsold is a second (and dollars) forever lost. If they’ve got your money on the line for a longer schedule, that’s one less moment of advertising time they don’t have to hit the streets to sell. The Federal Communications Commission mandates that no network (TV, cable or radio) can broadcast dead air time… it all has to be filled with either paid or free spots.

So, in conclusion, as a potential TV or radio advertising prospect, you’re in the driver’s seat. When you have the right advertising message, scheduled on the right broadcast networks and in the right time slots you insure a positive return on that investment; and you avoid becoming another advertising victim.

To learn how NOT to be a victim of a TV or radio ad sales person, attend the next New Patient Extravaganza. Mr. X, the author of the article above, will be appearing and sharing his closely-held secrets for success with radio and TV. Don’t miss it! Info here: