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4 Psychological Tips to Improve Your Ad Copy

Episode Transcript: 4 Psychological Tips to Improve Your Ad Copy

Writing copy for an ad campaign is hard work.

Writing compelling copy for an ad campaign is even harder.

If you want to attract more patients to your practice from your online advertising, you need to connect with prospective patients and get them to take action.

On this week’s episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast, we’ll show you how to supercharge your ad campaigns with these 4 psychological tips to improve your ad copy.

Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast – the show where we give you actionable tips and advice to help you improve your practice marketing, grow revenue, and take patient experience to the next level. I’m your host, Crawford Ifland, and today we’re going to be discussing how to write more compelling ad copy using insights from psychology.

First up: value propositions.

Focus on Your Value Proposition

Every marketer knows about value propositions. But too few marketers pay enough attention to how to correctly frame their value proposition in their advertisements.

The problem is that too many advertisers think they’re selling a product or a service.

But that’s wrong.

Let me say that again: as a doctor, you are not selling a product. You are not selling a service.

You’re selling people a better version of themselves.

That’s why patients are choosing you – because they believe that you can actually provide them with a better life in some way.

If you want your ads to be effective, you need to get patients to believe that you can help them be a better version of themselves.

That’s where value proposition comes in.

Too many advertisers focus on the features of a product rather than the benefits it provides. And even when they do remember to focus on the benefits, they often fail to frame those benefits in concrete terms that patients will remember.

If you want your ads to be effective, you need to do two things:

  • Explicitly state the pain point that people are experiencing.
  • Explicitly state what people will be able to do thanks to you.

Let’s say you’re a cataract surgeon. Your ads shouldn’t focus on the excimer laser you use, or your decades of experience – for the most part, patients don’t care about that.

Instead, you should focus on the benefits patients will receive when they choose cataract surgery with you.

  • It’s not just about “removing cataracts” – that makes for a bad ad.

  • Instead, it’s about “seeing clearly again.”

But we can go a step further than that.

  • It’s not about just “seeing clearly.”

  • It’s about allowing a cataract patient to “see their grandson’s baseball game.”

See how that works?

Just by changing a few words, you’ve turned a simple service that seems like a commodity (removing cataracts) into a transformative experience that changes a patient’s life (Dr. So-and-So gave me the freedom to enjoy watching my grandson’s t-ball game again).

So whatever you do, don’t forget the value proposition – and never frame it in terms of yourself or what you can provide. Focus on the patient and what they stand to gain, and your marketing will be much more effective.

Understand Loss Aversion

One of the most powerful psychological tendencies of the human mind is loss aversion – the desire to minimize risk and reduce loss by whatever means necessary.

It has been well-documented by psychological studies for decades that the human brain desires to minimize loss much more than it desires to maximize gain.

The principle of loss aversion is powerful knowledge that you can use in your ads.

You might have heard loss aversion referred to by another name: FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out.

Just like you need to explicitly state what people will be able to do if they choose you, you also need to appeal to loss aversion by explicitly stating what they won’t be able to do if they fail to choose you.

There are plenty of ways you can exploit loss aversion to make your ads more effective.

But one of the best ways to appeal to people’s FOMO is by using urgency.

You see this all the time in advertising: limited-time offers, flash sales, and other techniques that incite an immediate response before the buyer has much time to think twice.

But there are two types of urgency – and one is much more subtle than the other:

  • The first type of urgency is Real Urgency. This is when there truly is a flash sale or a limited-time offer that will run out. If you find yourself saying “while supplies last”, you’ve got real urgency on your hands.
  • The other type or urgency is Implied Urgency, and it’s much more subtle. Implied Urgency is when there isn’t a hard deadline or a limited supply of something, but rather when you use language to imply that time is of the essence.

Using words like “book now” or “schedule your appointment today” in your ads, while subtle, are uses of implied urgency that can incite a response.

If you really think about it, there often isn’t a strong reason for a patient to book their appointment at that very moment – there will still be appointments available next week. When you take a step back, urging the patient to book immediately isn’t very rational. But using that language can incite a response thanks to their fear of missing out – and so it’s incredibly effective.

Focus on Your Headlines

Everybody knows that the headlines of your ad are important.

Headlines are attention-grabbing. It’s the first thing a patient will see.

So at first glance, this advice sounds a little trite.

But there’s something else happening here that makes headlines more important than you might realize.

There’s an important psychological concept called the Serial Position Effect.

The Serial Position Effect has proven that when we’re given a list of information, we tend to recall the very first item in a list, as well as the last item in the list…and we are more likely to forget about the items in the middle.

What does this tell us about ad copy? Your headlines and the end of your ads are incredibly important!

Just think about all of those “As Seen on TV” commercials. They might be cringey advertisements for terrible products, but they’re incredibly effective.


Because they do two things very well:

  • They start off with an attention-grabbing headline, and…
  • They finish by repeating their call to action.

These advertisers know that you’ll only remember the beginning and the end of their advertisements. So what do they do? They grab your attention quickly, and they finish their commercial by repeating their phone number 87 times.

It might seem annoying – and I’m not suggesting that you repeat your phone number as often at the end of your ads – but these commercials are incredibly effective.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t focus on the middle part of your ad copy – it’s still important. But by paying a little extra attention to your headlines and calls to action at the end of your ads, you can appeal to the Serial Position Effect and make your ads much more effective.

Transform Generic Claims into Concrete Images

There are two big problems with many advertisements:

  • They make some outlandish claim that couldn’t be possibly true, or…
  • They make an overly generic claim that lacks real, concrete evidence.

Many advertisers are attuned to #1 – they know that they can’t make claims that are too outlandish, or patients will spot it from a mile away. If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

But too many advertisers fall victim to the second problem: they make generic claims that sound good, but lack the clarity that patients need.

The good news is that there’s an easy to way to fix this. Often times, the magic ingredient is to either add a number or tell a story.

  • Rather than saying “someone from our practice will reach out soon”, put a number on it. Tell patients they can expect a reply within 24 hours – or better yet, within 60 minutes.
  • Rather than saying “our patients love us”, put a number on it. Say, “we’ve performed 1,547 surgeries for happy patients this year.”

Another way to offer concrete images is to use social proof. Get your satisfied patients to do video testimonials for your practice, or write a review online. These are hard, concrete numbers and stories that you can use to show prospective patients how wonderful of an experience other patients have had at your practice.

And if you need to convey a percentage in your ads, don’t actually use a percentage – frame it in terms of real people.

Humans tend to have a hard time framing percentages in the correct way – what exactly does 82% look like? – but when you say 4 out of 5 people, that evokes a mental picture that people can easily imagine. That’s another way to help your patients understand your claims and put it in terms they can relate to.

At the end of the day, writing compelling copy your your marketing and advertisements is still hard work. But by knowing the intricate ways the human brain works – and by using them to your advantage – you can improve the effectiveness of your ads and attract more patients to your practice.

Next Week…

Well, that’s all for today’s episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast – thanks for listening.

Next week, we’ll take a look at a controversial issue surrounding Apple, and how changes to their upcoming operating systems could affect your practice’s ability to understand how patents use your website. We’ll explore what Apple is doing with their Intelligent Tracking Prevention software, how other big tech leaders are responding, and what these changes could mean for your practice’s ability to do marketing effectively. It’s going to be a great episode, so you won’t want to miss it.

If you want more practice marketing resources, check out our website at We’re always sharing helpful tips and know-how to help you improve your practice marketing, grow revenue, and take your patient experience to the next level.

That’s all for today’s episode – I’m Crawford Ifland. See you next week.