Radio listeners may recall Andrew, a character created for ads promoting Boston Medical Group. Though Andrew is currently on hiatus from his radio campaign, he still exists on Twitter, along with a “P Doctor” and a sex education vixen. With the help of its LA-based agency, the erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation treatment service is taking an integrated media approach to competing with the little blue pill and big pharma.
As its paid search and display advertising efforts mature, Boston Medical Group plans to launch several Web sites focused on specific health conditions, and hopes to reach new demographics like younger men and women.
“As a direct response company, we’ve always been in the habit of sell, sell, sell ourselves,” said Chris Reis, director of marketing and sales at Boston Medical Group. When marketing online, however, it’s more about education and guidance than overt sales pitches.
Recognizing that some ailments preclude men from taking pharmaceuticals to relieve the condition, known as ED, Boston Medical Group and its agency, Wingman Media, are reaching out to men with high cholesterol, low testosterone, depression, and Multiple Sclerosis. Several microsites will include educational and contact information and be updated with new articles each month, according to Brian Diedrick, interactive earned media manager at Wingman, which also handles BMG’s traditional media efforts.
“A lot of men are searching for this in our keyword research,” he said, noting that men with these health conditions search for information on alternatives to sexual performance drugs. BMG often targets ads to searches for terms like, “Cialis alternative,” or “Viagra won’t work.”
Search term research also prompted local site sections dedicated to the 22 markets in which Boston Medical Group has physical locations. A search for “Boston Medical Group Chicago,” for instance, links to a page focused on the firm’s Windy City facility.
About four years ago, the independent network of physicians began to see an influx of pharmaceutical advertisers using paid search, resulting in more competition. “We had to get a little more creative and tune our message,” said Reis. In addition to added competition, most pharma advertisers also have much bigger ad budgets than BMG.
Competing with larger budgets also requires flexibility. While BMG only spends about 1 percent of its budget online, its marketing team plans to raise that to as much as 10 percent in the next year and a half, moving money currently allocated to print and other traditional media. Part of that additional cash will go towards more display advertising, said Reis, adding that display advertising has boosted awareness and search marketing effectiveness for BMG.
Alongside more standard online ad fare, BMG has taken a unique approach to Twitter. Andrew, its radio ad mascot, lives on as @bye_andrew on Twitter, promoting his Goodbye Dysfunction blog and posting quips intended to endear him to the average middle-aged guy. “I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die,” wrote Andrew recently. He has around 1,300 followers.
“With the persona and the stylized approach, you’re able to gain a little more credibility with the audience,” Diedrick said.
Another Twitter account, @mantips, is associated with a doctor persona called Dr. P, the P Doctor, whose bio is casually blunt: “Have a penis? Follow me for helpful tips on keeping your favorite part in working condition.”
There’s also an official Thebostonmethod account, which has over 1,500 followers.
A more recent addition to BMG’s Twitter crew is sexedkate, a.k.a. Kate Confidential, who’s pictured on her accompanying blog as a blond in studious eyeglasses. A recent Twitter post stated, “Working on a blog entry about why men should not dress women…”
Though the Goodbye Dysfunction blog indicates the BMG connection (“I’m not employed by Boston Medical Group — I just talk about my problem with erectile dysfunction for them on the radio,” states Andrew on his FAQ’s page.), Kate Confidential’s Blog does not. Unlike pharmaceutical brands, BMG is monitored by a medical board and is not required to include disclaimers about side effects in its marketing campaigns, according to Reis.
“We’re looking at using her to target the premature ejaculation crowd,” said Diedrick. That “crowd” is usually comprised of young men, unlike the 40-and-over male demographic BMG typically targets for its erectile dysfunction treatment. “We’re targeting a market segment that kind of gets neglected,” he continued.
The advertiser is also considering focusing campaigns on women and gay men doing research on behalf of their partners, and new Twitter personas could be created as a result. “We’re constantly looking for ways to use Twitter,” Diedrick said.
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