Is There Still a Place for Traditional Advertising in Rehab?

A picture of a billboard asking if there is a place for traditional advertising in rehab.


Business owners and marketing executives from all industries may run into a bit of a quandary when planning their marketing strategies and allotting their budgets: do you go all in on digital, or is there still some room for traditional advertising? For addiction rehab owners and directors, this dilemma may be even more perplexing, with the sensitive nature of addiction and rehab playing a critical role in the decision. In short, while industry experts and prognosticators have been inking the obituaries for all forms of traditional advertising for the better part of the 21st century, facts show that it is not only still alive and well, but that it is also a very vital part of a successful marketing strategy.

Traditional Advertising is Not Dead

If you’ve bought into the narrative over the last decade plus, you may be of the mind that traditional advertising mediums like magazines, newspapers, direct mail, television and radio are antiquated and largely ineffective. Many of the so-called experts have based this conclusion on the reported efficacy of digital marketing and some of the limitations of traditional. But for as powerful a tool that digital marketing is, there are several drawbacks that should not be overlooked:

  • Digital marketing is intrusive: It interrupts your Internet experience with annoying pop-ups. How many times have you actually had any interest in the digital marketing you see when on social media or on any website? More often than not, the digital ads you see are more of a nuisance than anything else.
  • Adblockers are everywhere: Over 200 million people around the world have some sort of adblocker installed on their computer. People vehemently hate digital marketing.
  • Digital marketing numbers are questionable:Unfortunately, it’s hard to rely on the reported efficacy of digital marketing because of the amount of fake traffic out there. It’s difficult to know whether your digital marketing is actually reaching a real person.[1]

While traditional marketing may have its drawbacks, there are also some tremendous advantages it provides. For one, traditional marketing is a far more trusted source of advertising. People instinctually distrust the things that marketers show them online. One study by MarketingSherpa revealed that just one-quarter of consumers trust pop-up ads, making them the least trusted form of advertising and most disliked. Here were the top five most trusted forms of advertising:[2]

Infographic detailing the most trusted forms of advertising.

1. Print Ads – 82 percent
2. Television Commercials – 80 percent
3. Direct Mail – 76 percent
4. Radio Ads – 71 percent
5. Out of Home Ads – 69 percent

What do these top five most trusted forms of advertising have in common? They are all forms of traditional advertising. While you may reach more people for a lower cost when using digital marketing, it may not resonate with your audience as much as a traditional approach would.

Integrating Traditional Marketing into Addiction Rehab

With a limited advertising budget, it may be difficult to figure out if traditional marketing is right for you and how much to invest. Unlike companies that have endless marketing budgets, you most likely have a limited amount of money that you can spend on your advertising, and you need it to go as far as possible. Remember, advertising is not only about reaching a large number of people, it’s also about getting a large number of people to remember your message, product and/or brand.

One study found that unaided brand recall was significantly higher with print advertisements (75 percent) than with digital advertisements. (44 percent). Print advertisements also required less cognitive effort to process than digital media.[3] Even further, a Temple University study found that print marketing was reviewed for longer periods of time, stimulated higher emotional reactions and created more of a subconscious desire for products or services than digital marketing approaches.[4]

Here are some traditional marketing strategies that may work for your addiction rehab facility:

Vector image of a billboard.

1. Out of Home: A powerful image and a simple yet impactful message can go a long way when using billboards, bus shelters or other forms of out of home marketing. More than anything, it will create greater brand awareness, but it can also work hand in hand with other traditional and modern mediums. This is the one type of advertising that can’t be turned off, or have the channel changed on it.

2. Magazine & Newspaper: This medium allows marketers to create highly impactful ads with audiences that are more likely to have an interest, especially when it comes to magazines. Marketing your addiction facility in Men’s Health is likely to put your ad in front of people who are concerned with health, just like marketing in a journal about substance abuse will put you in front of people who likely have an interest in substance use disorders.

Vector image of a magazine

Vector image of a TV

3. Broadcast Advertising: Without understanding your demographic and how to reach them, the effectiveness of broadcast advertising is hard to predict. People certainly watch television and listen to the radio regularly, but with so many devices and services available, it’s hard to predict where your future patients will be listening. Still, broadcast advertising allows marketers to tell a story and reach large groups of people at once.

Every addiction care facility needs a unique marketing plan that accounts for their target audience, budget and marketing goals. In most cases, an integrated strategy that includes multiple mediums and allows them to complement each other is ideal. But without the proper experience and know how, this can be difficult to accomplish.

MPA Rehab Marketing has coordinated and executed dozens of marketing campaigns for addiction rehab clients in the last near 20 years. No matter the size of your facility or your budget, we can create a marketing strategy that helps you reach your goals. Contact us today at 732-214-9600.

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