Dentists love technology… they really do!v Recently a client spent a great deal of time excitedly walking me through all the things that he was able to do with CBT. While I generally had no idea what I was looking at I was blown away by what I was seeing. The catch is, dentists love technology when it comes to dentistry but quickly shy away when it comes to marketing. Those that embrace it often spend far too much money on social media gurus who produce a lot of exciting things that deliver poor results.
The reality is the online world has dramatically changed our world and will only continue to do so. Best Buy, the number one North American retailer in technology is struggling because they didn’t adapt to the world of online retailing, at a time when they should be flourishing. All the major car companies are shifting advertising dollars away from cable television and moving them to youtube, leaving NBC searching for the next Seinfeld that not enough people are going to watch.
The shift is inevitable and the trick is to be smart on how you leverage it. Here are thoughts on some of the key online marketing approaches that dentists are facing today.
Websites – Yes, you need to have one now. A typical new patient doesn’t walk into a dental office and ask to talk to the dentist. Instead, they see the name on the door, go home and google the name looking for office and staff pictures and information before they make their first call. The good news is patients have a low expectation of a dentist’s website. A clean, simple, friendly and welcoming website with photos goes a long way. Dentists should use a templated website with a designer to keep costs down but provide personal content – it costs little and is better than a fancy, complicated and overbuilt website. This level of website will suffice for the next 3-5 years. Right now a sophisticated, next level of website is like buying a flat screen TV in 2002. Very cool, but also very expensive.
Social Media – However you want to define it, this is a content driven, user based platform. In other words, if people aren’t genuinely interested in what you have to say then you won’t see any benefit from it. I’m not saying don’t have a Facebook, twitter or Pinterest account. I’m just saying don’t spend any money on it, the ROI will be nonexistent. That being said, if you have young staff in your practice this is a great way to leverage their knowledge and engage them in an important aspect of your business. Instead of paying a guru to run it for you, let your staff get involved. It will play a bigger role down the road and it doesn’t hurt to get a head start, just don’t spend money on it.
Videos – If you aren’t camera shy this is an incredibly effective way to engage your patients and future patients. Youtube offers a completely free although uncontrolled means of hosting a video while companies such as vimeo offer you the chance to share videos in a controlled manner. Either way, with your basic templated website you can now share videos of you speaking directly to anyone who chooses to view them. Take the message that you share over and over on a daily basis with your patients and put it online.
Search Engines – This is where more and more people go to find service professionals and there are two ways to approach it. the more aggressive marketer will want to target their city or region. To do this, there is no simple solution if you are situated in a competitive urban area. Unfortunately, many dentists are paying the experts big bucks to keep them at the top of the listings. While effective, I would question the return on investment. What you can easily do and should do – is protect your name. Make sure that when someone googles you, Dr. XXXXXX, they find your web page and office map. I recently googled a prominent dental lawyer as a quick way of finding his phone number. Imagine my surprise when google identified his office as being the same as my office at ROI Corporation Brokerage. Long story made short is that a reference to this lawyer was on our website and google drew a natural correlation – that is how it works.
The Mobile Revolution – This is the next step and one that most experts believe is going to happen faster and have more impact than the internet revolution. I completely agree and believe that to stay ahead of the curve we need to consider how everything we do going forward interacts with a phone. What is exciting about this for the dental world is that it will shift the focus away from bringing in new patients to retaining the patients they have and engaging them better outside of the operatory. This is a fundamental shift that warrants its own discussion that I will follow up with in my next article. Full Contact marketing who also writes in this magazine is a great source for marketing advice.
Bottom Line:This article addresses head on the new marketing strategies using the Internet and various other forms of social and visual media.
David Rourke is a Sales Associate with ROI Corporation Brokerage, operating in the province of Ontario. He can be reached at 647-519-5775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.