September 2013, Volume 9, Issue 9
Published by AEGIS Communications
Your Practice, The Internet, & Social Media
6 steps for attaining digital market dominance
Howie Horrocks | Mark Dilatush
What happened to the days of just throwing any old website up on the Internet and feeling good about it? Truth be told, just creating a website and hoping people find it was never a good strategy. Google changes the criteria used to bring relevant information to the searcher seemingly daily. This impacts nearly everything you have already done, or plan to do, online. In addition, there are now all kinds of new social media outlets that make being digitally savvy even more challenging.
When it comes to technology, however, change is not a bad thing. In terms of your website, its positioning, your online reputation, and social media, you don’t want them to be static—change is good.
It’s good because in every walk of life there are early adopters, people who kind of just follow the crowd, and, of course, procrastinators. When it comes to dental practice promotion, the Internet, and social media, early adopters usually benefit most.
To stay ahead of the curve today, there are six guiding principles to keep in mind. Early adopters know that to have a dynamic and effective Internet presence, one needs:
• a properly built, consumer-friendly website.
• a proper initial optimization (so the search engines can find you)
• integrated/active social media platforms.
• ongoing website, optimization, and social media changes.
• a properly constructed and optimized mobile version of your website.
• properly constructed and embedded video page introductions of the dentist(s).
The idea is to systematically use a portion of your annual marketing budget to secure a dominant position in your marketplace within each media type. If you do not have the budget resources to take the next step—don’t take the next step yet. Once you do have all of these steps completed properly, you will be a good way down the road to a dominant position in your local Internet market.
Implementing all six of the principles above is not expensive. A decade ago, dentists would spend $2,000 to $4,000 per month to purchase priority placement in the Yellow Pages. Now that the viability of advertising in that medium has all but vanished, some dentists look at exploiting the Internet (what some would consider the new and better Yellow Pages) as expensive. It’s actually not. The costs to promote via the Internet aren’t nearly as expensive as the Yellow Pages. Plus, with the Internet you can control the positioning and outcome. Has anyone ever been successful controlling the positioning and outcome within the Yellow Pages? Not without spending even more money.
The Internet is second on the list of least risky promotion mediums for dentists to use to promote their practices. The Yellow Pages was never as predictable. If each of the steps is done properly, an Internet presence in one’s local market will pay off handsomely for more than 90% of the dentists reading this article. That is predictability.
Rely on Experts
Each of the six steps has its own requirement of competence and experience. You need graphic designers to lay out your website for a professional and user-friendly look and feel. You need programmers to code your site and continually work on optimization. You need people who are social media savvy, and probably most importantly, you need people who truly understand what dental consumers are and are not looking for when reviewing their potential new dentist on the Internet.
The most common misstep is building a website and having someone else try to optimize it. This can work, but disharmony between a search engine optimization provider and website developer is predictable. Avoid this if you can by having one firm handle everything for you.
Participation Is Critical
Unique social media content is one of the keys to ending up where you want to be. You and your team need to be prepared to provide 90% of that social media content. Dentists tend to overthink this aspect and assume it is a daunting task. For some of the best early adopters, it has turned into a continual, fun, team-building exercise.
For those practices, a successful blueprint to keeping a dominant Internet presence includes assigning one person on the team each month to write at least four topical stories (one per week) and encouraging all patients to review the practice on Google reviews, providing some help if necessary.
The dentist and team do not need to be technically proficient. Just get your written stories and video to your Internet firm of choice. Let them name them properly and post and cross-post them properly for you.
Tackling Social Media
Especially for social media, the weekly stories do not necessarily have to be written. A video testimonial from a patient can be a story. Video works wonderfully for positioning your main website and your social media sites.
In addition, the written stories do not need to be about clinical dentistry. In fact, most of the time it is best if they are not about clinical dentistry. Social media content is more about good public relations. Human interest stories, such as a team member in the practice expecting a baby, family graduations or weddings, and participation in community events or charities, can all make great social media content.
Avoid using your practice social media accounts to show in-process dentistry. If you want to post photos of dentistry, use full face before and after shots. Consumers aren’t concerned with how you made the smile better. As you know, many are fearful of how.
When Will I See Results?
If you do the steps above properly, with the right help, most dentists should have a dominant Internet presence within 90 to 120 days. There is no instant gratification when building toward dominance in any promotion medium. They all take time. Those of you in highly saturated markets will take longer. If you Google a rival dentist or practice, and see consolidators (yellowpages.com, localsearch.com, something-dentists.com) showing up on the first page of a search, know that ultimately you are likely to beat their positioning. The 90-to-120 day expectation applies to you.
About the Authors
Howie Horrocks is founder and chief executive officer and Mark Dilatush is president of New Patients Inc. Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, New Patients Inc. has been helping dentists attract new, high-quality patients into their practices for nearly 25 years and has hundreds of dentist clients all over the world.