The wonderful power of old school advertising on the worried well


It’s really quite easy to dismiss or not even consider the incredible power of non-digital advertising; we are all rightly obsessed with websites, PPC, SEO and social media and of course all these channels are critical in creating new, high spending patients for your practice.

A typical ad in The Telegraph targeting the worried well, with heavy editorial and prominent dimensions

A typical ad in The Telegraph targeting the worried well, with heavy editorial and prominent dimensions

However traditional advertising for non-distress driven dental services (treatments dealing with everything apart from acute toothache) is significantly underestimated in my view. At this time of year we are bombarded with the most beautiful and not so beautiful aspirational advertising on TV, radio, posters, in magazines and even our local free newspapers.

It is of course true that with the massive proliferation of TV and radio channels audiences have diminished and all newspaper circulations are down – however, this is reflected in the rates and remember the viewers or readers are heavily entrenched and defined so they will be predisposed to advertising within these channels.

I suggest you buy the Telegraph on Saturday morning and count how many advertisements there are targeting the ‘worried well’. They are all, without exception, copy heavy and bursting with amazing information and promises to make your knee perform better or to help you hear your grandchildren singing joyously in the back garden, or even rather mundanely make your back much less painful, or combat hair loss, sight loss, you name it…  Why is the ageing process all about loss?

Can you imagine a full page advertisement with the heading: “Say goodbye to dentures… miracle new technological innovation using the latest implant techniques which have been tried and tested…”

You have a local newspaper and provided it carries the bulk of estate agency advertisements it will have a strong local readership. When you settle down to build your marketing plan for 2015 why not trial press for non-distress dental propositions like:

  1. Cosmetic
  2. Implants
  3. Adult ortho
  4. Facial aesthetics

I sold ad space in the Lancashire Evening Post in the 70s and learnt a few things from the inside that still hold true:

  • make sure your local paper is read and respected: ask your patients, then read it cover to cover for the next three weeks
  • size matters: use big, confident advertisements that are 30cm across three columns – this format is page dominant
  • position matters: the outside area on right hand pages is best, and aim to be close to high traffic sections like property
  • copy sells: make sure you tell the story in words supported by compelling before and after pictures
  • series sell: book ads over four consecutive weeks
  • do a deal with the paper: dentists don’t advertise so you will be incremental business in a very slow retail market that is getting smaller – forget the rate card.

Let me know how you go on.

And by the way, if you want me to take a look at your advertisement before you spend then I will be happy to do so.

Best wishes,


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Jonathan Fine is Lead coach: sales and marketing at Breathe Business. Email, call him direct on 07860 672727 or connect on LinkedIn to see what he’s reading and talking about.

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