Podcast #38

How to Create Ads That Don’t Suck

If you are a digital advertiser, you know how important ad creative is to the performance of your campaigns. When managing your ad creative you must juggle different headlines, images, text, and CTA options for different placements, across different devices. But great ad creative doesn’t start there. It starts by understanding the patient journey, their motivations and challenges, and providing real value through your offering.

Episode Highlights:

Rich Briddock

Rich Briddock: ”When you’re trying to come up with messaging, mind the reviews of your current or former patients. See what they’re saying about you and take those pieces of information and incorporate that into your messaging strategy.”

Episode overview

In this episode of Ignite, Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing, and Rich Briddock, SVP of Performance Marketing, dive into the evolving landscape of digital marketing in the healthcare industry. The discussion revolves around the impact of the iOS 14 update, the challenges posed by the lack of transparency in data, and evolving strategies to capture audience attention.

Rich emphasizes the shift in focus from solely targeting specific audiences based on demographic attributes to a resurgence of creative strategies. With the increasing competition on digital platforms, the importance of telling a compelling story and engaging with the audience becomes paramount. The duo explores the need for a two-part message in marketing: identifying the ideal customer and effectively communicating why they should choose a particular service or product.

Healthcare marketers need a deep understanding of the patient journey if they want to create ads that consumers actually engage with. Rich provides insights into tailoring messaging based on different stages of the patient’s decision-making process and emphasizes the importance of user-centric approaches.

Additionally, the episode touches upon the role of creative elements in advertising, discussing the value of assets that bring clarity, motivation, and removing barriers for the end user. The conversation concludes with practical advice on executing effective creative strategies, including the use of dynamic ad units and the role of empathy in healthcare messaging.

Overall, this episode offers valuable insights for healthcare marketers navigating the complexities of digital advertising. It emphasizes the importance of compelling storytelling, user-centric approaches, and creative strategies to stand out in a competitive landscape.

Related Resources

Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite podcast. The only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Alex Membrillo: What’s going on everybody. Thanks for joining us on Ignite. You all are going to enjoy this one. I’m Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Digital market. We got Rich Riddick, our SVP of performance marketing. He’s not only extremely good looking, but he also just as smart. We call him the dual threat. We’re so thankful to have you on here Rich. A lot has happened with digital marketing here this year. You could say that with any year, but especially with the iOS 14 update, the lack of transparency and data, and who’s clicking and who’s buying and who’s becoming a patient it’s changed a lot. Rich, has it changed our creative strategy and mentality and how we go about that to get eyeballs on our stuff? What impact is that?

Rich Briddock: I think back in the early days, everybody reminisces about the early days of digital, right? Where you could just get some ads up on Google and you got instant results and Facebook had such great native audiences, and it was such a sparse marketplace that if you could get half-decent ads on Facebook, you could also get great results. Those days are being eroded. You just have a ton of different advertisers now on all the digital platforms out there, they are far from being emerging platforms anymore and so the competition is fierce. I think what happened in the digital world and especially in the digital agency world, is that a lot of people really hedge hogged into target and they are like, “I’m going to find the perfect audience. We’re going to segment out the people that went to this page of this website and spent 27 seconds here and downloaded these three things and that’s how I’m going to know that’s the perfect warm audience they could buy from you.”

They ignored the creative site. They ignore the messaging piece. Now with things like [unintelligible 00:02:06] team where these audiences have shrunk and they’re less accessible, and we’re getting this resurgence of creative and the need to tell a great story and the need to really engage with your end user and really explain to them how you’re different and what your value props are and how you can help them and motivate them to take the next step, which is engage with your service and product. For us, we have a two-part message when we think about marketing through any lens, and it is if I am your ideal customer, and that’s the targeting piece, why should I buy from you? That is the messaging piece and we should, as your agency, be able to answer both of those questions. I can say who your ideal customer is, and I should be able to communicate to them exactly why they should buy from you and that is critical now,

Alex: Is it always on the agency to know that or do we hope that the clients know who their ideal– They always think it’s obvious, but the why should they buy from me? Not so obvious we just talked about on a episode about offers, but tell us more about that. Is that where we start, is that where the client should start the patient route?

Rich: Yes and again, I think we spoke about this a little bit when we were talking about promos, but I think one of the other shifts that we’ve taken over the last 12 months is to become much more user-centric focused and really as an agency, what we care about is your clients, not necessarily the most important in our success are the clients of our clients and making sure that our clients are giving their clients what they need all the time.

It’s really important that between ourselves and the client, we understand their end users and what makes them tick what they need, what they’re looking for, what they’re seeing clarity on and we know that this is going to, change as the patient goes through the patient journey. At the top of the patient journey, when I’m doing my initial research, and I’m just trying to understand a symptom or a condition, what I need in terms of messaging and content is going to be very different when I’m at the bottom of the funnel and I’m looking to book an appointment next week.

We want to make sure that our clients are giving the right information, the pertinent information, to their patients at each stage of that journey, and in order to do that, you’ve really got to understand the user, you’ve got to understand what questions they’re asking at each stage of the journey. You’ve got to understand what tasks they’re trying to complete at each stage of the journey and then you’ve got to understand things like what motivates them, what are the frictions and the hurdles that stop them from going any further to get them to the next stage of that journey.

There’s a whole lot of things that you’ve got to know about the user in order to talk to them correctly and we shouldn’t just assume, “Everybody just cares that I’m the best-rated brain surgery place in town.” That’s not enough for more sophisticated end users that have all the information in the world at their fingertips to go walking around in. I got to go with people who give them the best information.

Alex: Very good. Give us some examples of low-acuity groups like what are the stages? What ad creative are we serving offers ad that people understand, like all of this helps [unintelligible 00:05:32] hard for me to compute. I’m sure it’s for listeners too. Give us some example?

Rich: For some low acuity practices, especially things like dentists or urgent care that is very need-based, you probably don’t have this consumer funnel. You’re probably going to win that business because you accept their insurance and you are the closest, and maybe you’re open on weekends and evenings and you’re open when they need you. For other healthcare providers where there is a bit more research and a bit more consideration that goes in, and I’m going to use behavioral health here, as an example, if I’m at the top of the funnel, like let’s say that I may have been experiencing symptoms or I’ve just been diagnosed with a condition and I’m at the very top of the funnel one of my family members have. What I need to know is very different to when I’m at the bottom fall, I’ve done all my research. I’m just trying to figure out why I’m feeling these things, why a family member is feeling these things.

What I’m doing is I’m going online and I’m doing an exploratory research around the symptom or the condition and I’m looking for a trusted advisor to give me some information around those things. Give me a course of action to follow on, help educate me, help me overcome stigmas that I might have. It’s a very soft sell, very exploratory. We’re a thought leader. We’re a trusted partner-type relationship in terms of messaging and content. Once I’ve done all of my research and I’ve gone through evaluation and I’ve looked at all the competitors in the space, then I just need a very, very transactional message like we can help you today. I think mapping out the patient journey and understanding what the consumer needs at each stage of the journey is based on putting yourself in their shoes, but also potentially doing some survey, doing some research, just have to think about it logically.

Your best resources tend to be people outside of the marketing team for these things. Bring in the people who are on the front lines, bring in the people who work in triage, who are working in patient support, all of these roles where they are actively talking to patients or prospective patients on a day-to-day, basis answering their questions. You should mind that information. Mind the reviews. I can’t emphasize this enough when you’re trying to come up with messaging, mind the reviews of your current patients or your former patients. See what they’re saying about you and take those pieces of information and incorporate that into your messaging strategy.

Alex: Yes I love it. A key there is to talk to your patients, listen to your patients, help them form all the creative about executing [unintelligible 00:08:04] is a creative that’s great at just video can you do stock video. It’s a creative that’s great just stock images. Do you need your own image? Give us real samples and then we’ll talk about how [unintelligible 00:08:14] that even without an agency

Rich: Creative that gets played is creative that brings value to your end-user. It doesn’t necessarily matter what format fits in. It could be static, it could be car sell, it could be text. It could be keeping the ad copy. Obviously, you’re limited there to what you can execute, but it’s something that adds clarity to your consumer. It’s something that motivates your own consumer. It’s something that clearly conveys your value props to your end consumer, right and value props can be true differentiation. That’s the ideal value prop but if you don’t have true differentiation from your competitors, it could be at least points of parody so like, “Hey, that guy over there is telling you he can do X. Well, guess what I can also do X and Y?”

Make sure that you have points of parody that you’re conveying and then where possible, break down barriers. Like getting rid of friction, getting rid of hurdles, you feel like you can’t afford it. You can afford it. Here’s how you can afford it. That’s what messaging should convey is motivational value props and removing friction hurdles, those three things. Now beyond that, in terms of delivery, there are a couple of things from a digital point of view that you should absolutely take advantage of and these are things like dynamic edge units, right? Google and Facebook have both done a big surge to push dynamic units that use algorithmic learning to serve in what they, what they describe as the best combination of an ad for each user. They will take signals on those users that you and I don’t have access to and they’ll say, “We know what this user cares about.” You’ve given me five headlines and five description lines, and. five images. I know that this image, this headline, and this description, when I combine them into an ad is the best possible combination for this end-user based on their behavioral signal of which I have millions and the algorithm has deemed it.

You want to make sure that you’re adhering to the marketing principles, but then there are definitely some formats you should take advantage of in order to deliver personalized creative at scale, and that was through these dynamic units.

Alex: We should do a whole episode just on a dynamic creator. That feels like it’s got to be its own thing. It’s what you feel like it’s coming down. Do you need an agency to execute all of this, a lot of in-house [unintelligible 00:10:39] If they’re not going to have a full-time creative in-house, how can they get this done at scale cost-effectively without an agency with small in-house team?

Rich: I think, make sure you’re going back to basics on your messaging. Actually, do a messaging strategy. Figure out what your user wants, figure out how to differentiate yourself from your competitive set, and then make sure that you are developing assets that deliver on those things. You can have a messaging strategy deck that involves the patient journey math, that involves a competitive analysis, and provides examples of creative at each stage of the funnel that is formatted for dynamic units, that could still be 8 to 10 pages long.

It doesn’t have to be this massive need portfolios information, you can be pretty sparse. The true thing is getting the stakeholders in the room, you have the knowledge on the users, have the understanding of what the user is looking for, and that you are telling a compelling story, and that you are doing it in the right format, to really maximize the benefit of some of these channels that you’re advertising on.

Alex: I love it. You can get it done at scale cost-effectively, it doesn’t have to cost of mint?

Rich: Doing a strategy, it can be fairly low-level maintenance. I think once you start getting into dynamic units, especially on social, where you need a ton of different assets, and especially if it’s a more complex sale that requires video, then you may want to think about either an agency or lease creative shop for you to contract, deal with production. Ideally, you’re going to be swapping out this creative on a pretty regular basis. it’s not like a, “Paste, step, forget it, let me upload some creative and then drive down the road.” That you need to be refreshing your creative on a regular basis.

You ideally should be mining your dynamic units to understand the best performing combinations, swapping outperforming assets inside of those dynamic units on a regular basis. If you’ve got a lot of volume, if you’re spending a lot of money, you’re going to hit statistical significance pretty quick on those things. You may be needing to swap out assets once a month, and so you should be prepared for that. The upside is you will be making strides in your credit performance every month.

Alex: So much more important. When we started Cardinal 12 years ago, you didn’t need all this awesome, creative, because everyone’s a creative and website sucks. Now it’s getting good, and we have a lot less data available, which is weird to say, 12 years ago, it’s become social.

Rich: I think the nice thing though, for marketers is that the tools that are developing around creative development are improving. Things like promo and Wave are two good tools for producing social media. Where they have stock libraries built-in, you can access stock video, libraries, automatically put them in the right size template for your ad unit, you can do overlays. You don’t need to know Photoshop, you don’t need to know Adobe Premiere, you don’t need to have all these fancy things, you don’t need to have a videographer.

That’s again, where the key is, what is the compelling story? Because usually, you can find some decent stock footage that will help you convey a story. The narrative is what’s important. Where your benefit and your value comes in is collecting that narrative and making sure that you’re coming up with a compelling story that the patient is really going to seek value from. It’s less around the format of the ad itself.

Alex: Taking it back full circle to what you said first, it’s all about educating the consumer, educating the patient, making them feel comfortable and smarter than before they visited your website or saw your ad.

Rich: I think another thing too, in healthcare, at least what I’ve seen, and especially on the higher acuity end, and especially the behavioral health side is, messaging is an opportunity for you to create empathy. I think empathy is very important for these patients who are in an uncertain spot in their life. Maybe they’re very scared because they’ve just found out that they have a condition that could be life-threatening. If you can create empathy, that is a huge piece in winning over a prospective patient and getting them to trust you and engage with you.

Ultimately, that they are looking for help. It is a cry for help. The brands that can come over more human and more relatable are going to do well.

Alex: Showing your providers, showing happy patients is one step in there getting the offers, talking to your patients to know what they care about. Also very important, creative, something you have to invest in, don’t do it too cheap. Don’t make it look cheap. Don’t make it feel cheap, because you’re not going to get seen, Facebook’s algorithm will see that it’s not important to anyone and you’re going to pay more for every patient than the rest of your competitors.

Thank you, Ritz. Really important lessons here on [unintelligible 00:15:39] and how to develop compelling creative, compelling offers on our previous one. Rich, thanks for joining us on Ignite.

Rich: Thanks for having me, Alex.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing? Subscribe to our podcasts and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.

[00:16:08] [END OF AUDIO]

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