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Indiana office uses billboards and TV to bring in a flood of new patients

An Indiana practice is seeing a significant number of new patients from a billboard and a TV commercial.

It’s money well spent, says Laurie Streib, administrator of Gastroenterology of Southern Indiana, an eight-physician, 43-staff practice in New Albany, IN. And getting the advertising going has been amazingly easy – the billboard company designed the sign and the television station wrote the commercial, filmed it, and edited it.

The advertising began only a year ago with the billboard. The office is located in the Louisville, KY, metro area, so it placed the sign on the interstate between Kentucky and Indiana. It carries a group picture of the physicians, the name of the practice, the web address, and a slogan of “our dedication and experience are easy to digest.”

Results were immediate, Streib says. “We couldn’t believe how many people told us they saw it,” and that included patients and other physicians as well as friends of the doctors and staff.

The commercial came soon after, and the office sees it as the more successful of the two efforts. “We are definitely seeing more patients.” It runs three or four times every day and is shown during popular hours, “not at 3:00 a.m.”

It was filmed in the office, and several staffers plus three of the physicians opted to participate in it.

Cost wise, Streib says, TV advertising is not out of reach for a medical practice.

That hasn’t always been the case. A few years ago, she got quotes that were over $100,000 “and not negotiable.” But in the recent poor economy, many sponsors “have fallen by the wayside,” forcing television stations to cut their prices to attract new advertisers.

The station her office uses gave a “deeply discounted” price. And after the advertising began, other stations began calling, all offering good packages. One even said it would provide the same service for 10% less than whatever the first station was charging.

The cost has been much in line with what the practice was earlier spending on a large Yellow Pages ad and other individual marketing efforts. Those add up without anybody’s realizing it, she says. An office can spend several thousand dollars “just on Christmas cards and fruit baskets to referring physicians.”

The advertising “was a gamble,” she admits. But the office’s rationale was that if it didn’t pay off the loss “wouldn’t be devastating,” and if it was successful “the exposure would be amazing.”

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