Shock and Awe In Medical Marketing

Wikipedia defines Shock and awe as: “(technically known as rapid dominance) is a tactic based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze the enemy’s perception of the battlefield and destroy their will to fight.”

So how can it be used in marketing? Well hold on to your hats, it’s been used in marketing for centuries, and mostly in medicine.

Starting with the old Snake Oil Salesmen who would strike fear of illness and disease into anyone who would stand and listen, followed by claims that their elixir would cure all ailments.

It may shock you, (no pun intended) to learn that before 1977 it was illegal in the U.S. to advertise professional services. A landmark case “Bates v. State Bar of Arizona” in 1977 changed everything.

In that case the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state bar associations could no longer stop attorneys from advertising. This ruling spread into other professions, including the medical profession.

The problem with advertising at any level is there are laws against making false claims to sell a product. No doubt repercussions from the early “Snake Oil Salesmen”.

However, the case of Bates vs State Bar of Arizona was kind of a double edged sword for the medical and other professions.

You see even though advertising for lawyers opened up advertising for Doctors and other professionals, ironically lawyers began seeking “injured” individuals who had been damaged by false advertising. Creating a double edged sword for the medical profession. So advertising for medical professionals has to be carefully handled.

But how, you may ask, does this allow “shock and awe” advertising in the medical field if there are laws prohibiting false claims? Well it takes a clever and manipulative mind to put together medical advertising that scares the crap out of people making them believe they have a problem or illness, then gives the consumer the impression that their medication will solve their problem.

Again how does this kind of advertisement help the medical professional? It might help the pharmaceutical companies, but how does it help the doctors?

First a commercial comes on listing symptoms of a particular disease, usually using an obscure medical term you’ve never heard of before. Since many diseases have a host of similar symptoms those are the ones that are listed first. So of course if you have any of these your interest is perked. Eventually after a few lines of more serious symptoms you’re anxiety is being tapped into. Now you’re wondering if you have the disease.

Anxiety purchases are often returned costing the company more money. Ethical advertising results in a lower rate of returns and requests for money back.

The commercial continues with the “drug” used to treat the symptoms along with the many side effects, often worse than the symptoms of the disease or ailment. The commercial continues saying you need weigh the risks of the side effects with the risks of the disease.

So I’ve given you your “shock” so here is your “awe”.

The advertisers don’t tell you your doctor will cure you, they don’t tell you your doctor is the best but they send you running for your doctor…with one brilliant (and sinister) phrase:

“Ask Your Doctor If [insert drug name here] is right for you?”

WALLAH! You’re wondering if you should make an appointment.

Next time you have an appointment “ask your doctor” how many times people come running in asking their doctor about a medication they heard about on TV or came running in asking for testing.

Yes this kind of shock and awe advertising is going on in more areas than just medicine, for example the recent pandemic has surged sales in many staples the people have stockpiled, disaster preparedness products have soared in sales, self help products and books have gone up as well.

But it wasn’t only the new vaccines that made a big profit for “Big Pharma” anti-anxiety drug prescriptions have soared as well.

According to marketwatch.com, “Over the past year, U.S. prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications such as Klonopin and Ativan jumped 10.2% from 8.8 million in March 2019 to 9.7 million in March 2020, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from health-research firm IQVIA.” Published on May 26, 2020.

Anti-anxiety medication prescriptions have spiked 34% during the coronavirus pandemic

This article clearly shows how the shock and awe of a pandemic can create anxiety, depression and a host of other symptoms, boosting sales for all kinds of products, including medicines.

Now to be fair, manufacturers are not creating a false panic, Covid 19 is very real. And there is no doubt that the measures taken, quarantining mass numbers of people, is creating anxiety and hardship around the globe.

But I caution sellers against making unrealistic claims for any product they sell and I caution consumers to seek more natural and free methods of anxiety relief before turning to pharmaceuticals.

If your plan to create advertising for your clients, involves using shock and awe, then good luck.

If you’re a business looking for someone who will create shock and awe advertising don’t bother inquiring about my services.

In the end the best way to sell products or services, is to match the right person to the right product in an ethical and calm buying experience.


Why I No Longer Create Amazon Affiliate Links

We’ve all seen those Amazon Affiliate links in posts, video descriptions and articles. Some of us click on them, some of us don’t and be honest some of us have gone to our Amazon account and searched for the product simply because we didn’t want to give the link creator the profits. There could be a ton of reason why people do the latter but this is not why I’ve stopped creating affiliate links.

I don’t seem to have the savvy to keep up with the latest technical requirements to keep my affiliate status. I’ve created so many videos, articles and posts trying to promote an affiliate link but for some reason the sales never come or they aren’t being registered. The message I get from the company is too vague for me to understand and frankly I just don’t think the little return is worth the trouble.

I’m not out for profit when I review and promote a product. I just like the product and want to help others solve a problem. But somewhere along the line I found that I could make a little return on my work if I just became an affiliate. Easier said then done. So many people have Amazon accounts, premium etc and I don’t know if those things actually affect whether you as an affiliate get a small commission or not. But what I do know, is every time I set up links and get rejected the link is no longer attached to my account.


And this is a big but! The link still takes you to that product. Where if you purchase that product NO ONE gets that little commission. Not you, not the link affiliate, NO ONE!

So all your hard work still continues to send people to that product and you get nothing. Amazon does allow you to reapply and try again. But you have to replace the links you’ve already created or you get no credit. This is very time consuming and most people won’t update their links and just abandon them. I tend to think Amazon is counting on this. Imagine how many affiliate links are out there that Amazon is no longer paying out for.

So you say, “I thought you weren’t in it for the money!”

No I wasn’t. “Wasn’t” being the key word here. After going through the affiliate link program 3 times, even though I showed I was making sales, the message I got said they couldn’t track where the sales were coming from… ((((Scratching my head))))). So then I got frustrated. When I learned the links still brought people to the product but paid me nothing I became even more frustrated, and even angry. How dare they keep benefiting from my hard work but paying me nothing.

That’s when the light-bulb went off in my head. That’s when I realized I had stopped doing reviews and promoting products I truly believed in purely for the sake of helping others. Now I was in it for the money. Even though I still try to be honest on my reviews and let people know the cons along with the pros, I still worried I was skewing the reviews to talk people into buying.

Good sales are not about snowing people into buying a product they really don’t need! Good sales are solving a problem by matching the right consumer with the right product or service to solve their problem!


Problems Evolve So Your Content Should Too!

I know it may sound weird but as society evolves so do our problems. We are human and we do often have the same problems, but as our technology, textiles, goods and services evolve, so do the problems that come along with it.

For example, women in the 1700’s had completely different fashion problems than women of today. Never the less fashion problems will always be around as long as humans need to wear clothes.

Fashion problems of the 1700’s were bound by societies rules of good etiquette. Today’s women aren’t bound by those constraints. In the late 20th century women were more bound by comfort and style and what was considered popular. Today, just about anything goes, so it’s harder for designers to find something that the majority likes, but the anything-goes theory helps designers have more freedom to express themselves with unconventional looks.

With that in mind we could say that although problems usually remain the same, they are ever evolving.

If one wants to devote their life’s work to solving transportation problems for example they had better look to the future. Just as the old blacksmiths had to adapt when cars were invented, so do mechanics and manufacturers as we enter the era of space travel.

When Carl Benz took out a patent for the first automobile people never thought cars would replace horses.

Now that Virgin Galactic is selling tickets to space again it won’t be long before rich enterprising travelers start having everyday space related travel problems that will need to be solved. So if your business is travel you may want to start looking to the stars to keep up with the business.

If you own a long standing blog that’s not getting a lot of attention, maybe it’s time to do a little spring cleaning and updating. Time to dust off those old articles and polish them to a new shine.

If you need help, feel free to shoot me an email. We can talk!


Consumer Needs Dictate Sale Approach

Consumers fall into a couple of categories when it comes to sales approaches.

  1. Get to the point, is this product right for me? Buy it or move on.
  2. I have a problem but need options for solutions. I want to make an educated decision before purchasing.
  3. I’m interested but my money is worth a lot to me, you really have to convince me I need this product before I will buy.

Different products require a different approaches to selling.

For example selling food to a hungry customer falls in the first category. People need to know; is it fast to fix, does it contain ingredients I can’t eat and does it taste good? These questions need to be answered fast and concisely.

When Duct tape was invented it had one purpose, but through the years new uses have been found for Duct tape. It takes creative writing to convey all the variety of solutions duct tape can offer to a wide array of problems. This is where sales approach number 2 might fit in well.

Big ticket items like cars, homes, boats, furniture, golf clubs and many other items fall into the 3rd category and should not be obtained through impulse purchases. So a customer needs to trust not only the item they’re purchasing but the manufacturer and the dealer before they will put their hard earned money into a long term commitment.