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What advertisers should know about the FTC guidelines on endorsements and testimonials –

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

In October of 2009, the Federal Trade Commission issued some new guidelines about Endorsements and Testimonials.  These FTC guidelines are sometimes misunderstood by radio stations and groups, leading them to unnecessarily add wordy and counterproductive disclaimers to the endorsements and testimonials of their on-air personalities.

Blanket application of disclaimers to all endorsements and testimonials is an overreaction to the guidelines.  If a material connection exists between an advertiser and an endorser, there is an obligation to disclose that material connection only where the audience would not reasonably expect that connection to exist.   You may be able to convince your station to change their policy by concentrating on the actual language of the FTC text.

If the endorsement is given in a context where the listener would reasonably expect the endorser to be compensated, the guidelines don’t rquire you to disclose because consumers can reasonably be expected to have taken that fact into consideration when deciding how much weight or credibility to give to the endorsement.  In short, you don’t have to tell them what they already know.

The text of the FTC press release announcing the guidelines is here:  http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm.

 The text of the actual FTC Guidelines is here:  http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf

How to fail at radio advertising

July 8, 2009 6 comments

If you stay in the same business for a long time, you’ll keep hearing some things over and over.  People have been telling me for years that satellite radio is going to replace terrestrial radio.  Anyone who bought stock in Sirius and XM can tell you that this prediction seems a long way off right now. 

Over the years I’ve also often heard that radio doesn’t work for dentists.  I’ve worked with hundreds of practices, from Anchorage to Miami, that could tell you otherwise, but here’s ten ways you can make this one come true:

  1. Assume that everyone listens to your favorite station.  Heck, if the team plays it at the office, then that’s the one where we should buy some advertising!
  2. Find out which station has the most listeners and buy that one.  There’s no need to research the demographic mix of listeners.  People are people, right?
  3. Try out a station for a month to “see if it works”.   If you’re not getting fabulous results right off the bat, quit and try something else.   That whole “frequency” thing is just a scam to get you to keep buying ads.
  4. Instead of focusing your message on high-value services that distinguish your practice (like sedation, implants, Invisalign, etc), just let everyone know that you’re the dentist office “that cares”.  Nobody else cares, and you should let the public know that you do.  If that fails, try telling people that you are a “cosmetic” dentist.
  5. You’ve got 60 seconds to get your message across, so make sure you let the audience know every fellowship you’ve earned and every dental association you’ve joined.  People will be very impressed hearing obscure but prestigious names being used.  That’s a good use of your limited time.
  6. Don’t focus on benefits and solving people’s problems.  Tell people all about yourself and the features of your office.  The audience will find that stuff fascinating.
  7. Don’t give a web address.  Who uses that internet thing anyway? 
  8. Even though media buyers are experts at getting the best deals and placing the most efficient schedules, make sure to buy all your advertising yourself.  So what if the radio station pays their commission and you get all their service at no charge.  You’ve got nothing better to do, so why not sit through appointments with every radio rep in town?  Just because the reps work for the station doesn’t mean they won’t be objective – right?
  9. When deciding on a budget, just pick a number that feels right.  Even better, just advertise on months when there is a surplus and you feel you can afford it.
  10. If the economy slumps, terminate all advertising, and huddle in the fetal position until outside forces change.  That’s what the competition is going to do, so you won’t lose any market share.

Google Radio Sales goes bust!

February 12, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m sure I’m not the only one who saw this coming.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/13/technology/companies/13google.html?partner=rss&emc=rss .  Google is the best at what they do, but that ain’t radio!

Categories: Radio Advertising

Google is NOT your new media buyer

January 21, 2009 Leave a comment

The NYT is reporting that Google’s expansion into traditional media is not going so well.  See http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/21/technology/internet/21google.html?partner=rss&emc=rss 

As someone who has a  fantastic media buyer, who I always turn to when I need TV or radio, I can assure you that they are still the most efficient way to buy media.  They can do it better than you can, better than I can, and apparently, better than Google can.

The Perfect Storm – Radio Advertising Costs Less Right Now

November 26, 2008 2 comments

If you’ve been thinking about radio advertising, pull the trigger now.  If you already advertise on radio, buy a little more in January.

 

First quarter is always a radio advertising buying opportunity, especially January.  The radio industry suffers a “retail hangover” after the holiday season exhausts the advertising budgets for seasonal marketers who depend on year-end gift-giving.  

 

Dental practices are largely immune from seasonal customer buying patterns.  Dentists are typically best-served by a regular presence on the radio, so except for skipping the last two weeks of December, their radio buying schedule remains the same.

 

Keep advertising in January, but take advantage of the special discounts available, and buy more.  Even if you can’t afford to raise the budget, find out about rate deals that may stretch your buying power.  Ask your station representative or your media buyer about first quarter discounts, or “one-day sales”, that are prevalent in the industry.

 

This advice is true every year, but it applies even more so now.  The radio industry is suffering advertising revenue losses, even though radio stations are still adding listeners.   See the NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/26/business/media/26adco.html?partner=rss&emc=rss   Radio’s biggest clients, car dealers and retail have been stung especially hard by the current economy, and many have cut back ad budgets. Their loss is your gain. 

 

When stations lose advertisers they have more inventory available.  That’s when they are in the mood for making deals and dropping rates.  Combine that with the typical January advertising climate, and you have the perfect storm of a buying opportunity.

Tracking Leads from Dental Advertising

August 20, 2008 2 comments

When you look at a report that shows automatic phone tracking results, you may conclude that more people find you through the yellow pages than from any other source.  This could be misleading.

 

The practices using automatic telephone tracking systems see an unusual number of patients generated by the yellow pages.  This illustrates the inherent weakness of attributing leads based on tracking numbers.  A tracking system is an excellent tool, but cannot be expected to be completely accurate.  Yellow Pages ads and web sites generate many leads that are “secondary” – that is, people go to the web and YP for information after their interest has been piqued elsewhere.

 

Look at the statistics generated by your website provider to see how people get to your web site.  A business that does little external advertising, but uses Search Engine Optimization, will see that most of their leads come through keyword searches.  A business that uses external marketing sources that include the domain name, will see that many of their leads come from people who have navigated directly to them.  The dual purposes of the web site make it the most indispensible part of any ad campaign.

 

Similarly, the YP may not be the primary generator of as many leads as it seems on the surface.  It still serves an important function, however.  When people are looking for you in the YP, they have to be able to find you.  Or they may find your competitor instead.  When my clients tell me that “the yellow pages  are dead” or that they want to cancel their ad, I suggest that they just scale back the ad.  That way they save some money, but the large number of people who still look there can still find them.

 

I’m a big fan of automatic tracking for your phone numbers.  Just make sure that your front desk keeps asking new patients how they found out about the practice.  And if your TV campaign is a significant investment, don’t be afraid to ask a direct question like, “Have you seen the doctor on TV?”.  Every day my clients hear that patients found them through the internet.  When the patient is directly asked if they ever heard the doctor on the radio, they often hear, “Oh yes.  I’ve been hearing him for years.  That’s why I went to the web site.”

Bad month for the your dental practice? Keep advertising!

August 20, 2008 1 comment

June was not a great month for dentists.  There are no absolutes in this business, and some practices did well.  But by and large, I saw more disappointing production months this past June than in any single month this decade.  It was like an epidemic. 

Some practices responded by suspending their advertising “until the economy improves”.  This is a defensive reaction that reduces the monthly “nut”, but is unlikely to cause positive change in the bottom line.  Practices that did this are still turtled up, waiting for outside forces to change their bottom line.

When business goes south, marketing is an attractive first target for budget cuts.  That’s backwards thinking however.  Marketing is an investment that generates income, not an expense that should be viewed as a luxury or discretionary.

The efficient marketer realizes that ROI success and failure is measured over years, not just a month at a time.  Your long term efforts are rewarded by an established position in the mind of the consumer.  People still need dentistry, even if some are postponing purely cosmetic procedures.  Don’t be the office that disappears.  Be the practice that’s been around forever – the one everyone knows.  You do that with consistency.

The dental practices who maintained or increased their marketing after the tough month of June rebounded with a strong July.  This illustrates the wisdom of long-term planning, and confirms the efficiency of sticking to a plan.  Yes we need to track, evaluate and adapt – and we don’t throw good money after bad being stubborn.  But a good plan remains a good plan, and a bad month doesn’t change that.