Why are newspaper & mag ads neglected by dentists?

By DOMINIC BRENNAN, creative director, Fine Company

Jonathan reported last week that neuroscientists have discovered that paper ads can be more memorable and have more impact than digital ones.

The news makes it a little harder to dismiss the power of non-digital advertising, although marketers are bound to remain obsessed with websites, PPC, SEO and social media which are, of course, critical in building new, high-spending patients for your practice.

Dental practice advert by Dominic

Dental practice advert by Dominic in Weybridge Life


And, despite the finding, traditional advertising for non-distress dental services will remain significantly underestimated. It’s true that with the massive proliferation of TV and radio channels audiences have diminished and 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.

Many dental practices avoid traditional advertising and focus all of their attention online, which leaves a great opportunity for dentists who want to build their brand and sell treatment in print or on the radio. With traditional advertising you remain in control of your message without fear of negative reviews. It’s a space some of your most affluent clients, the over-50s, are very reassured by.

Provided your local newspaper carries the bulk of estate agency advertisements it will have a strong local readership, so why not trial press for non-distress dental propositions targeted at the worried well like:

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

Having said that, I’ve led creative teams in big ad agencies for 17 years and my experience means I can’t overstate the advantages of opting for a decent spend to secure better space in media because it is always more effective.

So, depending on your target market and catchment area, it could be worth considering national press and magazines. One problem here is that dentists often (understandably) try to reign in costs by doing things like running dodgy selfies rather than commissioning their own photography.

My experience, however, is that there is a quality threshold in traditional advertising under which return on investment isn’t a sure thing. If you’re interested in creating an original print ad campaign that conveys your unique brand qualities and looks at home beside car and holiday ads by multinationals, get in touch for a chat.

Dental practice advert by Dominic

Dental practice advert by Dominic in Weybridge Life

If you want to go it alone, here’s a few tips on newspaper ad design:

  • make sure the newspaper you choose 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 much so you will be incremental business in a very slow retail market that is getting smaller – forget the rate card.



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