Zed Williamson

Advertising Hygiene: Stop Losing Money from bad decisions

What happens when you dig too deep and halt good plans by allowing bias to influence decisions?

advertising meeting

What happens when you dig too deep and halt good plans by allowing bias to influence decisions? In short: a lot of wasted time, and money down the drain for your practice.

To understand this, take a simple analogy: imagine a surgeon about to perform a surgery.

They wash their hands, even though they can't see what germs they're protecting the patient from. It's a no-brainer — simply good practice.

The surgeon doesn't necessarily see the germs they're preventing, but they know the germs exist, and they know that hand washing is an effective way to reduce the risk of infection.

The Financial Risk of Overthinking a Decision

We make thousands of decisions every day, many of them without thinking. Some decisions we put more thought into than others because they feel more important, and seem to warrant deeper analysis.

There are times when we make bad decisions because of too much thought.

In business, we may not have every single detail to back up our decisions, and we know that bias and noise clouds judgment. We see it all the time. Practice owners and staff are not aware of biases driving their bad decisions and their advertising and return on investment suffer as a result. How do you avoid these costly decisions? By practicing advertising hygiene.

What is Advertising Hygiene?

Advertising hygiene is all about making sure the choices we make are the right ones. It's the structure and processes we use to make sure we're not just going with our gut or letting bias influence our interpretation of data.

Quote: Advertising hygiene is like a filter for all the noise and bias that can cloud our judgment.

Overthinking How Your Advertising is Working

Let's say you're running an ad campaign —you've got the message and the commercial tailored to your target audience, speaking specifically to their emotional pain, and you know it's reaching enough of the right people. Your schedule is busier, and you are doing more of the procedures you want to do. But you don't have an exact correlation between new patients and money spent.

Let’s compare the two:

·      Bad decision - stop the campaign.

·      Good decision - evaluate whether the lift is a result of the campaign, even if the direct connection isn’t explicit in the data.

Let’s go back to the hand washing example to illustrate further… 

Imagine refusing to wash your hands because no one could prove to you an infection was avoided.

You would never do that.

Quote: If you were to really dive into the idea of washing hands, and did not account for bias and noise you could find the information needed to tell you that it's a waste of time. Which we all know is absolutely silly.

Now imagine hurting the growth of your practice by getting lost in the weeds with data (or lack thereof) when the results are clear.

Would you do that?

Signs of Poor Advertising Hygiene

When it comes to decision making, there are certain signs that indicate poor advertising hygiene. The two biggest are:

● Close-mindedness — we tend to see our opinions as facts and rely on anecdotal evidence, rather than thinking statistically. For example, if you find yourself thinking "I knew someone who... " instead of considering broader data, it's a sign that you might be close-minded.

● Seeking only to confirm pre-existing opinions— this is when you’re looking for proof to justify your thinking, rather than being open to new information that might change your mind. Sometimes this means ignoring your own observations because a certain dataset helps you tell the story you already wanted to tell.

Signs of Cleaner Decision-Making

On the other hand, when we're making cleaner decisions, you’re more like this:

●  Willing to change opinions — You’re willing to recognize that your conclusions were based on a story or a pre-existing bias, rather than rigorous evidence. You're comfortable changing your opinion and admit you were wrong when there's new evidence that suggests your data sources (or logic) was flawed or incomplete.

● Thinking statistically, using data to inform your choices, rather than relying on gut feelings, stories, or personal experiences. There is, of course, a balance to strike here: you need to rely on data, but you can’t confuse the quality of data with the quantity, or else you risk getting so lost in the weeds that you fail to see obvious answers.

Why Your Advertising Hygiene Might Be Worse Than You Think

Imagine a patient suffers from an enlarged prostate (BPH) and goes to the doctor for help. The doctor does a diagnosis and suggests medication or a procedure to alleviate the symptoms.

The patient chooses medication, but never follows through on taking the pills.

As a result, their symptoms get worse and they complain about the doctor for not fixing them, even though they were non-compliant with the treatment plan.

Similarly, a company may take steps to achieve an outcome, like improving employee leadership, or scaling sales. But if they don't follow the steps suggested by a consultant or vendor, they may not see any improvements, and decide to abandon the investment prematurely.

In these cases, the company is acting like the non-compliant patient, thinking that simply hiring a vendor or reading a book will magically flip a switch and get the results they want, without any effort on their end.

If it wouldn’t work for the patient, it won’t work for the company either.

Is Your Practice Like a Non-Compliant Patient?

We see this non-compliance situation play out with our own services sometimes. It typically goes like this:

You want to increase appointments at your practice. That’s what we do, so it seems straightforward, right?

You hire us. We do the work, and patients respond. Appointments go up.

You do your first procedure after 70 days, and then you collect from insurance another 40 days later. Even though you're paying to acquire that patient on Day 30, you won’t feel the impact until Day 110.




This can feel like a long time to wait, and when companies don’t practice advertising hygiene, conversations can sound like this:

Physician: “I know appointments are up, but, you know, people haven’t told us that they saw the Facebook ad.”

You start having second thoughts and don’t follow the prescribed plan.

Even your practice can start to sound lot like a non-compliant patient.

Reflect On Your Own Behavior

So where do you fall? Can you recognize when a campaign is having a clear, positive impact on revenue, even when you don’t have the granular data points to prove causation?

Or are you acting like the patient who refuses to take their medication?