Sometime back, it was considered unethical to advertise health care services. This is because it was considered that the advertisement was a way of rejoicing in the ill health of others. However, that era is long gone. A thirty minutes duration spent in front of a television set in America and other developed nations is enough to make one realize that health care advertisement is a booming business in today’s society.
One is bombarded with adverts that range from those advertising for a cough syrup, those promoting supplements, to those dealing with prescription and generic drugs. The reality of this phenomenon is amplified when one considers the fact that these only are the adverts that are beamed over the media. There are others that are not observed by the consumer in his sitting room. These are the ones that are targeted at corporations and government institutions (Kongstvedt: 2007).
Any health care service or product needs to be availed to the consumer out there, for whom they are targeted. This includes hospitals, medical equipments, and drugs amongst others. The kind of the product, together with the targeted audience, will determine what kind of advertising will be carried out (Manohar: 2008).
Several companies and organizations have been formed that assist the producers of health care to package and deliver their adverts to their target audience. These companies may combine their health care advertising services with other mainstream type of adverts, without specializing only in health care products and services. However, some of these agencies have specialized in advertising for the heath care producers only (Weber: 2001).
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Some health care advertising agencies have gone further and specialized in advertising a certain health care product or service. For example, there are those that specialize in marketing generic drugs, others in medical equipments like microscopes and others, while still, others specialize in promoting medical services like hospitals and nursing homes.
As indicated earlier, adverts in health care takes different forms, depending on the kind of product and the target audience (Yadin: 2009).
For example, a product or service meant for the direct consumption of the client will be advertised probably in the mass media, where the target audience is likely to be accessed easily.
However, a product or service meant for the health care providers like the doctors and hospitals will be advertised using the corporate method. This is because the target audience is the health institution or corporation, and not the final consumer out there (Ellingson & Dubois: 2006).
Many health care adverts carried out today have several predetermined goals (Kongstvedt: 2007).
When the advertiser contacts his advertising agency, he has a clearly defined intent of carrying out the advertisement. These goals range from increasing the volume of sales, creating awareness, or what the analysts call creating the brand, and also communicating with the consumer on some changes or developments that have been carried out on an already existing product or service. Whatever the goal is, the advert is crafted with it in mind. The success of the advert is judged by the degree to which it attains the articulated and expected results.
Types of Health Care Advertising
Before a health care advert is placed, it is very important for the company to first identify some very crucial variables (Kreps, Berlin & Leighton: 2005).
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For example, what is the characteristic of the audience that they want to address? What is the aim of the advert; is it to increase sales or is it to improve the brand of the product? These are just some of the basics that are taken into consideration.
There are very many types of advertisement that are at the disposal of the health care provider. It is up to the producer to make his choice from all those types. Advertisement, depending on what kind it is, is a very expensive undertaking. As such, there is no room for mistakes (Sloan: 2007).
The type of advertisement that the producer uses can make or break his business (Sloan: 2007).
Following are some of the types of advertisement that are carried out in the health care sector.
Advertising through the Print Media
This is perhaps one of the most common forms of advertising used in health care. The print media ranges from newspapers, magazines, pamphlets amongst others (Manohar: 2008).
The advert for the health care product or service is placed in a newspaper, a magazine or a journal. The kind of print media that the producer will utilize will depend on the target audience (Dunham: 2005).
For instance, if the product or service is intended for the doctors or health practitioner, it will be prudent to print it in a medical journal.
An advert for a laboratory or theatre equipment will likely be found in a medical journal that is read by medical practitioners. On the other hand, if the health care product or service is targeted at the common citizen, it is likely to be printed in a newspaper or magazine that is normally read by that kind of consumer. An advert for a cough syrup or for a private hospital is likely to be placed in the mainstream print media like newspaper or magazine.
Different print media adverts are priced differently (Swarbrick: 2007).
This price depends on various things; the location that the advert is placed is one such determinant. For example, a heath care advert placed at the front of the newspaper or magazine will cost the producer far more than that one placed at the back or within the pages. It will also depend on the space that is occupied by the advert.
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One that covers the whole page is likely to be moiré expensive than that which covers a sliver of the page. The circulation of the publication will also determine the amount of money that the health care provider will have to part with. The higher the circulation, the higher the price charged for a specified size of advert (Swarbrick: 2007).
Many publications have supplements. For example, a newspaper may have a glossy section and another one that is normal. An advert placed at the former is likely to be more expensive than the one that is placed in the latter supplement.
Advantages of Print Media Adverts
This form of advertising has several advantages as compared to other forms of advertising. This is as far as the attainment of the health care producer goals is concerned. For starters, an advert that is printed can be kept by the consumer for future reference (Petley: 2008).
A doctor can keep a brochure that he received from a supplier for a very long time. This means that he can keep referring to it in the future. The result of this is constant exposure to the advert on the part of the consumer. It is also relatively cheap when compared to other types like television adverts (Petley: 2008).
Another advantage is that it has a relatively wide coverage. One newspaper can be read by many people for a long time. This means that the advert that is contained in that paper is read by all those people.