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Advertising is a profession, and if you’ve heard me speak or read my book, you know that I always suggest hiring a professional to create your advertising.

However, while it’s better to leave the design and creation of your ads to the pros, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know some basic advertising tips. After all, without an understanding of what makes an ad effective, you’ll have no way of evaluating whether your advertising material should be sent out into the world…or back to the drawing board. To do this, I suggest you “Remember your ABCs” and apply them to every ad you run.

A is for Authenticity. Every advertisement you run should be an authentic representation of your business. Don’t lie or exaggerate. It’s not only unethical, but it’s actually illegal, and it really doesn’t help you in the long run. When a patient discovers that the “high-tech, modern dental practice” you claimed to be in your ad hasn’t actually added a new piece of technology in over 10 years, they’re going to be pretty upset. You’re in this for the long haul, so don’t try to entice potential patients with false claims. Instead, promote the great things you do offer, whether it’s convenient evening hours, skill with uneasy patients or affordable rates.

B is for Believability. While your advertisements should be honest, they also need to be believable, so be careful with making extreme claims and statements — even if they’re grounded in truth. You may aim for providing your patients with the most pain-free dentistry available, but is it truly painless? Probably not for all people, so don’t make that claim. Most patients will be skeptical of it, and saying that you put comfort first by offering sedation will likely prove just as enticing to uneasy patients.

C is for Clarity. This is a big one. You and your team will likely spend hours poring over your ads, but most potential patients are only going to pay attention to it for a split second. If your message isn’t clear, your ad will fail to make an impact on any of them. Keep things straightforward and direct. An ad isn’t the place to explain everything you offer. Decide on one message, make a few quick points to communicate that message to the patient, and leave them with a very clear understanding of how to learn more about your practice.

That covers the ABCs, but there’s a fourth standard your ads need to meet. It’s the reason I put “Remember your ABCs” in quotes. The ABC part of it is crucial, but so is the bit about remembering.

Your ads also need to be memorable. It’s estimated that a person is exposed to an average of 6,000 ad messages a day. With that sort of competition, you really need to stand out. Be funny, be smart, be compelling, but above all else, be emotional. People are motivated by their emotions, so if you can hit on something that resonates, you’re likely to generate a much greater response.

Whether it’s a direct mail piece, a print ad, a website or a radio spot, all of your ads should be authentic, believable, clear and memorable — ABC (and M!). It sounds simple, but if your ad doesn’t include those letters, then there’s nothing left for you but Ds and Fs.

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