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Math, marketing & the medical practice

Article-Math, marketing & the medical practice

A simple mathematical formula allows medical practices to become savvier at allocating advertising dollars, resulting in increased sales and profits, according to its creator.

The math is called The Barrows Popularity Factor. It was developed by Robert Barrows, president of R.M. Barrows Advertising & Public Relations in San Mateo, Calif.

According to Barrows, the reason the math works so well is because it reduces the relationship between advertising and sales to its lowest possible common denominator:

How much did you sell? [divided by] How much did you advertise?

But rather than calculating the math in dollars, the math equates units per gross impressions (the number of ads multiplied by the audience per ad).

“The answer you get is a rate of return on gross impressions,” Barrows tells The Aesthetic Channel. “Once you can quantify your rate of return on gross impressions, then you can start using some additional math to help you determine the best way to spend your advertising budget.”

For a medical practice, the sales in units might be the number of patients seen in a month, depending on the duration of the advertising campaign.

Calculating the net revenue per patient visit is also encouraged.

Barrows says medical practices, like any other business, can use the math to do a post-analysis of advertising from last year.

For instance:

  • What copy did you run?
  • Which media did you use?
  • How much audience did you buy (for your gross impressions)?
  • How many patient visits did you achieve as a result of that advertising?
  • How much money did you make from those patient visits and those advertising campaigns?

After completing a post-analysis, the practice may wish to test a new campaign in the medium that worked best, with the copy that worked best.

“You can use the math to help you test and compare the results of your new campaign to those of your previous campaigns,” Barrows says.

In addition, the math removes a lot of the guesswork out of advertising by quantifying the effectiveness of all types of advertising with cold, hard math instead of subjective opinions, according to Barrows, who uses the equation with all his clients.

Medical practices may want to run different ads in the same publication to find out which one elicits the highest response rate. For instance, in one ad, the physician might promote his or her competency, while another ad might highlight the benefits of a procedure.

“Which copy attracts the most business? The math will help you determine that,” Barrows says.

Next: History of The Barrows Popularity Factor


History of The Barrows Popularity Factor

The Barrows Popularity Factor has been around since 1985, stemming from a client of Barrows who conducted telephone tarot card readings.

A test television ad was run locally for about 1 week. “The campaign cost only about $1,500, but the client made a profit of $1,200,” Barrows says.

The client then asked Barrows what her return would be if she increased her advertising budget 10-fold, to $15,000.

“That is easy to determine,” Barrows says he told his client. “I went through the math with her, indicating how much audience we bought for the earlier $1,500 and how many calls she received in return. I also provided the client with the projections based on the net revenue per call and the new projections, if we bought similar advertising at similar costs per thousand.”

In this particular case, the advertising budget increased from $1,500 the first month to $100,000 during the sixth month.

The math and how to use it are explained in a booklet called "The Barrows Popularity Factor" available at

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