This week I am writing about advertising again to continue to encourage osteopaths to become compliant. Unfortunately there are still many who remain in defiance to the rules:
Getting your advertising right
Your advertising needs to abide by the law. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulate advertising in the UK. Through the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) they have issued a list of conditions that osteopaths can advertise that they treat.
If you are a law-abiding osteopath you will only list these conditions on your website and in all your advertising. At this stage your opinion on the list does not matter. If you want to emphasise what you really do – you can focus on the fact that you treat pain, without listing conditions.
Gilly Woodhouse, marketing expert for osteopaths, has some very sensible advice here:
As she says – most people don’t know what is wrong with them, they just know it hurts!
What does advertising include?
- Print and press ads
- Direct mail
- Television and radio ads
- Competitions, special offers
- Email and text messages
- Internet (banners, pop-ups, virals, sponsored search, marketing communications on companies’ own websites and other non-paid for space under their control.)
- Cinema commercials
- And more.
In summary – all your advertising and literature must be compliant.
What about non-compliance?
You only need to look at a few osteopath clinic websites to find examples of non-compliance. The GOsC is receiving many complaints about advertising every month. These are probably mainly being generated by the Good Thinking Society who have an ongoing campaign about osteopaths advertising.
Does it matter if there are complaints? Firstly it brings the profession into disrepute and could have a huge negative impact on the professions reputation. Also, a large increase in the workload for the GOsC could have repercussions from increased costs which will need to be absorbed somewhere.
The GOsC does not regulate advertising so the complaints are ultimately being handled by the Advertising Standards Authority.
Many osteopaths object to the limitations of the list. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes between the Institute of Osteopathy, NCOR and the ASA to produce research evidence and make sure that consistent advice is being given out by the Code of Advertising Practice.
Next Wednesday the Institute of Osteopathy is holding a webinar Question and Answer session with regard to advertising – take part and have your say: http://www.osteopathy.org/for-osteopaths/asa-campaign/