There has been a lot of discussion lately among medical professionals, including dentists, about the viability of Twitter as a marketing tool. Arguments against it range from “it’s silly and will never generate new patients” to “it’s a potential lawsuit waiting to happen”. While these points must certainly be analyzed for any new marketing venture, Twitter is a tool that can be used to effectively communicate with your potential patient base and generate strong interest in your practice, leading to an increased bottom line.
Discussing fillings or root canals that were just completed is not only boring, but borderline non-compliant with HIPAA regulations depending on the level of information you provide. However, as another dental entrepreneur stated, “…..dentists who are only interested in themselves or dentistry will not get that far in Twitter or other social media sites. At some level you have to be interested in what your community is interested in.”
Twitter should be a means of conversation…..of connecting with your community. Understand that people are talking about you with their family and friends, just like they always have. But now instead of chatting with one or two people at the barbershop or the grocery store they are sending their message out to hundreds of friends via networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) on the Internet. The good news is, unlike in the past, you can be present in those conversations by using networking sites. If you aren’t on these platforms and joining the discussion to thank them for a kind comment, offer an explanation for a complaint, or chat with them about the newest restaurant to open in town, you are missing the boat. Basically, be yourself and let your personality shine through.
Please note that Twitter does NOT market your office in the traditional way and will not bring immediate returns such as a direct mail campaign. However, it is an invaluable tool as part of a larger marketing strategy to connect with those around you and once you build that connection, the new patients will come. (Thanks, Field of Dreams, for the inspiration.)
SEO: What is it good for?
Well, quite a bit actually. As long as you don’t ask too much of it.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of getting your website to rank higher in Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., than your competitors. With the onslaught of new dental offices opening each year who are making an online presence one of their top priorities, getting noticed on the Internet is becoming more and more important for new patient generation and bottom-line growth.
Enter a strong SEO program. With dedicated SEO efforts your website can rank highly for specific keywords, leading your practice to be found more often by potential new patients in your area who are looking for a new dentist. Great! Right? Right. But I have seen way too many SEO companies claim that their clients receive hundreds of new patients after starting an SEO campaign. This leads to extremely high expectations that are often unreachable.
While SEO is important as part of a larger marketing plan, it is not the magic bullet that will instantly vault your practice to the stratosphere of success. The key to your success is to have a well-researched and well-rounded marketing strategy, combined with strong in-house training of staff to provide the ultimate patient experience.
Our clients, such as Dental Smiles at Purcellville Gateway, Loudoun Smile Center, and Arlington Advanced Dental Care have taken the steps necessary to be found online. Have you?
Have you heard the old adage, “KISS”? I periodically remind myself to “Keep It Simple, Stupid” when I start making things too hard on myself.
“No, I won’t just tighten the screws on that wobbly dining room chair, it will be much easier to build a new one from scratch!”
But did you know that there is a similar dental-specific acronym? Try, “ITDS”. Maybe that doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as KISS, but the principle that it stands for is pretty sound. ITDS, as explained to me by the owner of a 26-office dental company, stands for “It’s The Dentist, Stupid”.
You see, marketing works. Prospective new patients WILL call when you run a dedicated advertising campaign. And having a friendly and attentive staff are imperative. Patients WILL sing your praises when your office is run like a well-oiled machine. But those are things that every office does. All of your (smart) competitors have a marketing plan and amazing staff. Ultimately, the success of an office boils down to if the doctor has fully committed to their practice, staff, and patients.
The most successful offices I have seen have doctors who fully give themselves to their patients. They offer some combination of early, late, and weekend hours and personally call their patients at the end of the day to ensure they are doing well after larger procedures. I have seen these successful dentists personally write Thank You notes to patients who refer friends and, recently, interacting with patients and local groups through Facebook. These personal touches can be implemented over time, but will certainly produce positive results and take your practice to the next level once you have committed to them.
How will you stand out from the crowd?