How do you stand out in your industry? Do your patients know you’re the best option around? Learn these essential Gap marketing skills so you can dominate your market.
This piece is designed to show you how to expand your marketing reach by establishing yourself, and your practice, as a regional expert in the medical field. We aim to teach you how to separate yourself from your competitors by communicating those vast differences between you and them. The strategy is known as Gap Marketing.
The mission is to create a platform after which you will be the only logical choice for a patient’s healthcare needs.
I contend that no one goes into business to be mediocre or to barely get by; it just isn’t part of the entrepreneurial spirit. Therefore, if you took the time to secure a business loan, promote your medical practice, lease a location and set up shop, you that is a sign that you are probably extremely motivated to excel.
What you will learn in this piece is how to compete to win.
Have you ever read an ad where the advertiser declares that “they are the best,” “they’re available eight days a week, 25 hours-a-day,” or some variation of this same theme?
Do you know why advertisers state these things? It’s because they don’t know how else to communicate their “superior” skills.
That brings us to the next question; what do you to attract patients? How do you let others know you’re the best option?
As you develop your display advertising platform, you must develop a noticeable distinction between your practice and your competitor’s practice. You must begin implementing the principles of “GAP Marketing.”
In point of fact, gap marketing is an extremely powerful marketing strategy that has been around for millennia. Moreover, companies like Apple Computer, Harley Davidson, and Disney Corporation are masters of the tactic. As a marketing tactic, is a crucial component in an approach of solidifying your brand as the absolute best in the market.
Further, the creation of vast chasms between you and your competition is such an important tactic, that it should be a critical cornerstone of your core marketing model. Plus, this promotional model will also allow you to pinpoint why your medical services are not selling. Also, why your marketing copy doesn’t work the way you expect, or why your headlines are sometimes powerless.
Again, the strategy refers to creating the widest difference possible between an expectation level and an experience level of a person [your patients].
Additionally, as a concept, it offers the most profound insight and explanation for human behavior and reactions imaginable. The reason the divergence model works is that “people make decisions by comparison.” Prospects are coming from a position of “what you say” and transforming to “where they are.”
If the difference between the two is significant enough for them to feel their current condition is unacceptable, or in the case of an unproven company (a new, never-before-seen on any advertising platform) the proposed offer is unacceptable, then they will react positively, and you will generate a business relationship.
Therefore, you will not get a lead, an appointment, a trial offer, or a sale if the prospect’s differential is too small.
Primarily, you will be practically applying Newton’s third law of motion to your marketing campaign. The law states that: “Every action produces an equal and opposite reaction.” For advertising and sales purposes, let us change that to: “Every emotional divide produces an equal and opposite reaction.”
Your display advertising, social media promotions, direct mail packages, etc. are subject to following after people. These recipients read your materials and compare them to their current condition:
- No Emotional GAP – equals no reaction, because there is no gap to fill between where they are and where they could be.
- A Small Emotional GAP – produces an acceptable disequilibrium, and little or no action is taken to close the gap.
- A Large Emotional GAP – produces a vast unacceptability difference necessitating a need to fill the gap to regain emotional or conditional equilibrium.
So, every emotional breach produces an equal and opposite reaction which directly affects your promotional campaign. Principally, this strategy focuses on the delivery of Maslow’s second level of the hierarchy which deals with your clients’ sense of safety; because, you will be positioning yourself in a way that best solves your patients’ biggest healthcare concerns. However, before you can convey your vital message, you must affect your patients’ sense of equilibrium. In other words, if a patient perceives that their footing is steady and stable, then they see no reason to look at other alternatives.
For example, it’s like when your leg falls asleep. The pressure on the nerves makes your leg go numb; makes your toes or ankle tingle, and if you don’t reposition yourself, pain will eventually ensue. However, if the symptoms did not occur, you have no reason to reposition your leg.
The same is true when you employ gap marketing. Your objective is to point out how your practice is so far superior to everyone else in your industry. Hence, the patient has no choice but to make a change in their health care behavior.
If you prove your service is a solution to a problem they have, a sale relationship occurs. Your marketing goal is to create the most considerable chasm possible in your marketing and sales materials.
Gaps equate to power. Power to cause action. Power to make things happen. Sales copy that doesn’t create substantial differences is powerless.
Now, let us apply this to sales and marketing situations: The reason why some of your headlines do not work is that they cause no disparity, or merely cause a small breach in the patient’s mind and emotions.
The reason your sales copy doesn’t work as you want is the same reason:
“because they cause NO GAP, or cause a SMALL GAP in the prospect’s mind and emotions.” In either case, the differential is too close to where they already are in their mind; in which case, there is no reason to react. And, the reason your offers don’t work as you want is the same: “because they cause NO GAP, or cause a SMALL GAP, in the prospect’s mind and emotions.” — Marty Chenard
Check for yourself, the next time you see your competitor’s promotional piece, review the material through the lenses of this time-tested strategy, and see if it creates an unacceptable situation for the prospect.
Sometimes, direct marketers create Negative GAPs to develop a more immediate response.
For example, look at the difference between a 30-day guarantee and a 1-year guarantee. A 30-day warranty is such a small period; it creates urgency for the new patient to act on the thought that you put into their mind. What impression did you put into their minds? The notion that says to their conscious mind: “I only have 30 days to return this product…I better re-decide quickly if I really want or need it.” They now have a rather sizeable Negative GAP confronting their rational mind. You, in effect, are confronting them with an URGENCY situation to re-decide if they should keep it.
The desire is to create a reaction in the reader’s mind, which says: “If I don’t act quickly, I will have to pay for something I may not need or use.” Without enough reinforcement time for using your product, they end up with a GAP too small to justify keeping the product. Ultimately, this creates an interesting dynamic: The higher the sales price, the more significant the negative GAP. The higher the Negative GAP, the higher the returns.
So, here is a basic breakdown of the fundamental and reasoning as to why the strategy functions so well:
WHEN THERE IS NO GAP – There Is A Direct Effect In Equilibrium:
If GAPs cause equal and opposite reactions, then your materials with no GAPs are in balance. You have a situation where the prospect’s emotions and intellect have no differential. A seesaw is a perfect illustration of the concept. Scores of marketing experts say that a sale is 90% emotion and only 10% intellect. This being the case, what we want to measure with GAP, is the amount of emotional imbalance.
When a person is in balance relative to a specific issue, there is No GAP, therefore; there is no reactive force. When there is No GAP producing a reactive force, you will not generate any response from your prospects. When looking at sales copy, we consciously think of the size of the emotional differential or GAP created. No GAP…No Sale. Headlines are 85% of the reason why someone will decide to read or reject your copy, creating a large GAP in the headline, is absolutely critical.
Said differently, their leg hasn’t fallen asleep.
A Small GAP – An Acceptable Differential:
A small GAP is a condition where the GAP is disturbing only to the point where the prospect feels that he can safely ignore the problem. The prospect will typically cope with the problem, or initiate a quick fix that allows them to wait until later for a permanent fix.
The problem is that you have set your advertising budget, and paid for ads, which are not motivating readers to call you — NOW. Moreover, you are now caught up in a mass of ads that all look alike, sound alike, and from the reader’s perspective, there is no discernable difference between any of the doctors on the page.
A Large GAP – An Absolutely Un-acceptable Differential:
When the internal GAP of a prospect reaches a point where their current conditions are unacceptable, then there will be a sale. The prospective patient arrives at this point by comparing their situation to the size of the GAP you created in his mind. The emotional GAP must also be so unacceptable that action is required to bring back a condition of equilibrium.
Their leg is asleep, and they need to reposition to recapture a position of comfort.
As you can see, your copy has to create emotional responses in the reader. Responses that will initiate enough interest that they will need to call you, rather than anyone else. Think of it this way; you want to create a sense of urgency in your ad copy. Interestingly, Marty Chenard shared with us that a client of his gave him an insightful example, it’s a bit extreme, but it makes the point.
What would you do if you went somewhere, and while you were inside dealing with those things you intended when you arrived, suddenly you noticed that your car is being towed away? That’s a sense of urgency!
Remember, marketing and the delivery of compelling, persuasive, and memorable content MUST serve a need. Approach every promotional effort in the following way: “your patients have a problem they don’t want; however, there is a solution ‘out there’ they want but don’t have.”
All golf players will be able to relate to this analogy. A good caddy can read the greens; which means, the ability to exam a green to determine the force and direction to putt the golf ball (all this includes the direction and severity of slopes on the green, the grain of the grass, and the overall speed of the green.) Likewise, you have to be able to read your patients’ signs.
You need to determine if your patient already has a self-acknowledged GAP in their healthcare experience and satisfaction. The larger it is, the more you can see it in their actions.
After your sales content deals with emotionally building, a large crevasse, your job is to expand the distance to the highest level possible immediately. An unusually large, unacceptable breach is the end result. The maximum response in direct marketing is directly related to the size of the GAP your copy develops in a prospect.
The content within your promotional campaign should create those shifts in equilibrium and comfort; in case none existed in the prospect’s mind. The best example of this point is with a brief story that one of our clients shared with me:
“I took my wife’s 1972 Barracuda to the mechanic to fix a brake line leak, the mechanic took everything apart, measured the brake drum and said that it was undersized and dangerous. —- The GAP was created immediately, and the client was ready to buy a new brake drum!”
* Note, at the time our client was explaining this, we were having a casual conversation. He didn’t know that a light bulb had turned on in my head.
As you recall, there are two critical points related to the GAP Model. First, GAP is defined as: “A wide difference between an expectation level and the “actual” experience level of a person.”
Second and most important is the following: When the internal GAP of a patient reaches a point where their current conditions are no longer acceptable, then there will be a break in loyalty or action to re-establish equilibrium. The prospect comes to this point by comparing their situation to the size of the GAP you created in their mind. The emotional GAP must also be so unacceptable that immediate action is required to bring back a condition of equilibrium.
How do you know when you have created a large enough gap to affect a positive reaction? The psychological model built into every human’s brain is that all people make decisions through a comparison process. People automatically compare their current state or condition to every new possibility presented.
We were all brought up and trained to make comparisons as children. Our parents had rules and limits for us as their basis for establishing discipline. We understood the consequences of every action that we were supposed to avoid.
So, before breaking the rule, we remembered what the consequences were. Then we decided whether we preferred to do what we wanted or avoid facing the outcome, and not do it. This was a comparison process, and we compared the pleasure of our “forbidden” action against the pain of the consequence.
We still make decisions using the same process today. As adults, we are required to file income taxes by April 15th each year. We are all aware of the dire consequences, steep penalties, fines, exorbitant interest rates, plus the possibility of an audit. After processing the comparison in one’s mind, you decide to file on time or get an extension. The IRS is an excellent example of a large GAP, where the disequilibria are enormous.
Consider the steep consequence of most state laws for driving under the influence of alcohol. Here is an excellent example of a large GAP and severe disequilibria. Many states provide for an automatic loss of license of 30 days and a fine on your first offense. The third offense in many states is automatic incarceration with no right of appeal for the offender.
Sometimes you make decisions where the chance of the GAP really happening is remote. However, you decide to do it anyway because the risk of the result is too substantial. As an example, look at your home. If your home is paid off, it is doubtful that you would try to save $500 a year and not insure your home against fire or damage. No prudent person would risk their $250,000 to $900,000 asset for a mere $500 insurance policy.
These steep GAPs in what we want and what we don’t want are so significant that these rules act as powerful motivating forces. You should continually work on creating powerful enough GAPs for your service until you regularly produce immediate responses.
We face large GAP situations every day and are not even conscious of all the GAP decisions we make. All your marketing and sales copy should facilitate a prospect’s comparative process and when done, leave the prospect with an unacceptable GAP.
Finally, heed the old adage of “everyone likes to buy; however, no one wants to be sold!”
You have to create distance between you and your competitor; you don’t have to be a “pushy salesperson” while doing your promotion.
Many sell too hard. You don’t have to. A sale should consist of a smooth presentation leading the prospect to draw their conclusions based on sound information. A series of logical, positive conclusions is all that is necessary for the prospect to make an affirmative decision. A perfect sales process is one where the prospect reaches a final logical certainty on their own, to acquire or purchase your product or service.
Your goal is to present your case in such a way that the prospect feels inclined to tell you that they want what you’re offering! If your copy doesn’t achieve that, you put yourself in a position of having to “hard sell.”
Your job is not to pro-actively sell someone. Your mission is to communicate in such a way, that when done, the prospect has gone through a mental process in which they convince themselves to purchase.
Using bullets of “benefits plus GAP copy” facilitates this process. Correctly done, the desire developed accumulates to the point where an unacceptable GAP ensues.
If your bullets or benefits do not create mental GAPs, what good are they? If they don’t meet this objective, don’t use them until you have reworked them to a point where they accomplish this goal.
As you can see, when you create your ad, you need to take into account your future patient’s perspective and desired benefit. Then you have to present your message in a manner that creates a reaction, a sense of needing to move quickly, in your reader’s mind.
This marketing strategy may be too much to take in. You may feel that you don’t have the workforce or the expertise to create promotional pieces that develop gaps substantial enough to create fissures in loyalty from your prospects.
Good news, we are here to help you! For nearly three decades, we have assisted countless practice owners with their marketing campaigns (ranging from their web content, their print advertising pieces, reputation management, and so on).
We will put our money where our mouths are; for the first 161 respondents, we will gift you a FREE 20-minute advertising audit. We look forward to hearing from you; call us at 951.294.2274.
From the desk of Claudio Gormaz of Summit Marketing Strategies