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Hello and welcome to this week’s fast thoughts on dental marketing. I’m your host Colin Receveur and it’s a beautiful sunny day here in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, just outside of Louisville, Kentucky where my wife and I live. I’ve got some exciting topics; I’ve got some exciting takeaways for you guys today. I’m going to be giving you seven items, seven areas where dentists are spending their money wrong. I’ve put a lot of thought into this; I’ve actually had the notes working on it for about two months now, trying to get the notes together for this podcast and thinking about what I want to say and which items really carry the most weight. So I’m really excited to jump in and talk about it a little bit.
The purpose for these podcasts is to educate dentists and specialist orthodontists, implantologists, periodontists, everybody in the dental profession that is looking for a way to expand their marketing to find the new patients that they want. By educating you, you can decide for yourself if you feel that web marketing is a good fit for your practice and your specific situation.
The seven takeaways, it’s actually going to be eight but one of them I’ve already talked about a whole lot, the Yellow Pages. It seems like every week I get a phone call from another dentist that has been spending thousands and thousands of dollars in the Yellow Pages, and their new patient flow’s down, their collection numbers are down and they don’t know what’s wrong. My answers is track it, let’s split test it; we’ll put a call tracking number in the Yellow Pages and they can find out exactly what it’s bringing them, or in 100% of the cases so far what it’s not bringing them.
The seven actual takeaways that are going to be talked about in this episode are:
Social media; should you be doing it or not?
Spending all of your money on marketing in one place; is that important or should you be spreading your eggs around?
Template websites; are template websites worth the money you save or should you be going with a custom website?
What about boilerplate content which is number four; should you be taking the time to write your own content or is any content sufficient just so that your patient understands?
SEO and AdWords; spending marketing dollars on old websites. If you’ve got a website that’s a few years old can you optimize it and spend marketing money on it and get good results with it?
Staff labor; are you having your staff spend a lot of time updating your social media and send out letters and packets and do fulfillments and send out emails and text messages to remind your patients? Or is there a way to automate all of that?
Number seven is, of course as you heard me talk about with the Yellow Pages, any marketing dollars you spend are spent in the wrong place if you don’t know exactly what you’re getting for your money. If you’re not tracking your marketing down to the penny. If you buy a piece of real estate or a building or a stock or a bond you immediately know your cost basis and you know your profit or loss. Your marketing should be no different. If you’re not tracking your marketing in very simple terms, cost basis and profit and loss, you don’t really know what you’re getting for your marketing. Sure, maybe you got 30 phone calls or 40 phone calls. Yes, maybe know that some of those phone calls came from a website, or maybe you have some phone tracking in place and you know that you ran this newspaper ad and you had some calls come in and they say they found you in the newspaper, but with as inexpensive as the tracking is these days, if you can’t just look at a report that tells you everything you need to know, you’re definitely leaving money on the table if not spending too much of your own time trying to deduce what these numbers are or figure them out. There are systems out there, our Zetetics system for instance that we’ve designed specifically for dentists to be able to easily and quickly get those numbers, get right to the bottom dollar.
Let’s jump right in. I’m going to start with social media. Is social media somewhere that dentists should be spending their marketing dollars? There are different ways that you can market with social media; you can do pay-per-click ads with Facebook, you can also start up your business Page, and there are many services out there that will offer to keep your Facebook Page updated several times a day, several times a week, to entice your visitors and give them offers and information.
My opinion on it is it’s really a waste of time. Aside from Dr. Zuckerberg, who if you don’t know is Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook’s father, the few and far between dentists that are successfully using social media are just extremely rare. We’ve got several clients who are doing some social media that have hired outside companies to work with their social media and run pay-per-click ads. We’ve run a lot of pay-per-click ads for our clients testing it, trying to find out a way to monetize it, trying to find a way to build a following and what we found after several 12 and 24 month studies with Facebook and Twitter is, if you’re a general practice, you can build a following on Facebook no question. That demographic of patient, the young, young baby boomers, my generation and the ones in between are certainly Facebook friendly, they’re mobile phone friendly and they have those devices and that knowledge to Friend you, to Like you, to Follow you and you can build a tribe pretty quick.
If you’re a dentist that is looking for larger cases, implants, all-on-4s, very fearful patients and an older demographic, Facebook just isn’t for you. It’s something that a lot of your demographic doesn’t use. Right now the fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55 – 65 year old women, but that doesn’t mean that just because they’re signing up for Facebook that they’re actually utilizing it. There is certainly a huge generational gap between how a 25 or 35 or even 45 year old uses Facebook, and how a 65 or 75 year old uses Facebook. It’s something that the younger generations have grown up with; they know how to utilize it. As time goes on a lot of the older generation will continue to sign up for Facebook but are they really utilizing it in the same way, and the answer is no.
I can name off the top of my head several dentists I know that have been doing Facebook and have been doing daily status updates and doing offers and releasing all this stuff onto their Facebook Page. They have spent hundreds of hours probably putting little videos together and updates and whatnot and they have a following after two years of 35 people or 65 people. Even those 65 people, if you look at them, they’re not the patients that had the larger case size work done; they’re the daughters or the children of the people that had the work done.
If you’re a family dentist, if you’re looking for a lot of bread and butter cases, by all means hop on Facebook and produce a lot of good content. You’re not going to build a following if you just release offers. There are all kinds of sites out there that are all about offers and discounts. If you want to build a following in Facebook talk about yourself, personalize your Facebook Page and your human experience. But if you’re looking for the big cases, we just haven’t seen a lot out of it. It’s something that maybe as time goes on the demographics continue to push upward a little bit, the older generations get on Facebook, simply the population ages, we’ll see more results with that but for the past couple of years and in the foreseeable future for specialists in the older demographics we don’t recommend doing Facebook.
We’ll jump on to number two; spending all of your money in one place. There are a lot of piecemeal companies out there that for $2.97 or $4.97 or $6.97 a month will offer to do your local search optimization for you, or they’ll offer to do your pay-per-click for you, or they’ll offer to do your organic link building for you. Some of these companies even charge $1,000 or $2,000 a month to do that. I’m sure they do a great job, but the problem with using piecemeal marketing companies is really kind of twofold.
One is continuity; are you relaying the same message? Are your marketing budgets overlapping? Are you essentially competing against yourself with two different marketing budgets? And the second is one of consumer mindset; if a consumer sees you once on a Google search, if they search for Louisville, Kentucky dentist and your name pops up right there at the top, if you are ranked number one you are going to get statistically 35% of all of those searches. That’s a pretty good chunk of traffic, and of course if you have a good website on the backend you’re going to convert a good number of those to calls. If you have a lot of good video, you’re going to convert even more of those into phone calls and patients.
Let me give you another scenario. Somebody searches for Louisville, Kentucky dentist and now they see you number one, but your videos are number two. Maybe one of your niche websites is number three. Your Facebook page is number four. Your Twitter page is number five. And your local search page, well it would be a little bit higher to the top, but your local search page is number six in there. You dominate the entire above the fold page on Google. Now that’s something that, sure you’re going to get that 35% of clicks if you get to the number one position, but 94% of prospects are going to click on the number one through six results. Statistically if you’re number six or seven or below, you’re getting a very, very small piece of the pie.
Yes, there are a number of companies out there that can do piecemeal marketing very well, but if you are not dominating the first page of Google you’re just giving business away to your competition. You should have multiple pieces of real estate on the front page of Google for the search keywords that people are actually searching for in the local search, in the mobile search, in the organic search, in the natural search listings, in the paid listings, on AdWords Express, doing the local search paid listings which is a newer area that a lot of dentists don’t realize even exists out there. You can do local search optimization and you can even pay to promote that listing with Google. Google has monetized everything and for a small fee they’ll let you take advantage of better placement which is paramount in today’s world. It brands your practice, it dominates the whole first page of Google, and not only do you dominate the whole first page but your competition is nowhere to be found, they’re on the second page. It’s the only way to go if you want to take the lion’s share of new patients.
That being said we’ll skip on to number three, template websites. A lot of dentists out there have a template website. Some of them are a few years old, they’ve had them for a few years. A couple of years ago, several years ago, five or six years ago, template websites were okay; Google didn’t have the technology to detect template websites. Now if you’ve heard of the Google Panda, the Google Penguin updates, Google has developed a technology to see if your website looks cheap, for lack of a better way to put it. There are a lot of companies out there that are selling websites for $50 or $100 a month with no commitments and no set up fees. They throw up a website as fast as they can. Those types of websites that have boilerplate content, that have template websites, have practically been wiped off the map in the last year, definitely in the last couple of months. As you may be aware, April 24th, which is just a few weeks ago, Google released their Penguin update which was really the final stake in the coffin for template and boilerplate websites. With the Panda update last year they really drove hard and they killed off a lot of the template and the boilerplate stuff, but with the Penguin update here just three or four weeks ago, the template and boilerplate sites are just not existent. They’ve literally just eradicated them off the internet.
If you’re wondering if you’ve been hit by it, if you have a website that’s a little bit old or if you’re not sure where you stand in the search engines just go out to Google, go to Google.com and do some searches for yourself and see if you show up. Make sure you’re looking at the organic listings and the local listings. Mobile searches, search on your phone. Search in all the different places that your patients are going to be searching; some of them search on the go, some of them search on iPads, some of them search from their office on their computer. They search for all kinds of different keywords which, you should be tracking your website, so you should know what these keywords your patients are actually searching for. Don’t assume they’re simply searching for Louisville dentist or your city dentist. In many cases that is not true.
We’re kind of hitting on number four there as well, boilerplate content. Google has the technology now to compare your website to all the different sites across the internet. If you have duplicated content or you’re using a site that does not have custom, unique stuff about you, they have heavily penalized you at this point or will very, very shortly in the future once they roll this out to all the websites. As you can imagine having several hundred million websites to review and critique, even Google with their massive computers take a little bit of time to do it.
We’ll roll right into our next point of talking about older websites, with SEO and PPC on websites that are a little bit aged. One of the common questions I get is when a new client comes to us and says I’ve got this website, we paid a lot of money to have it created a few years ago, what can we do with it, can we use it? Can we just pay you to do optimization on it and send some traffic to it? The answer is yes, you can always do optimization on something. You can always do pay-per-click on something. But here’s the low-down on that; your website is cheap compared to the cost of the optimization and the pay-per-click in an ongoing fashion. Most dentists out there have spent somewhere from $3-5,000 on a good website. They’re spending anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 a month on monthly optimization, so if you’re not sure that your website is absolutely killer why would you spend the money to drive traffic to it?
First off, if your website is a few years old, if you don’t have a lot of unique content, a lot of good content, if you don’t have a lot of video, if your page isn’t structured in a way that is Google friendly by today’s standards, not two or three or five years ago’s standards, your site is not going to get the same results and the same ranking and the same number of phone calls as a new website will get.
The point I’m trying to make here is, let’s say you spent at the low end of a marketing budget, you spent $1,500 a month for six months, so you spent nine, maybe ten grand on optimization or pay-per-click marketing or some kind of ongoing marketing service for your website. Let’s assume that because your website was older you had diminished or zero results from it. Now you’ve spent $9-10,000, you’re $9-10,000 further in the hole and you have nothing to show for it, whereas if you had spent $3-4,000 up front, which means you’ve spent $12-13,000 now, revamped your website, added video to it, all of this advertising over six months with the monthly fees as they were incurred and you’ve got results to show for it which would you rather have? $10,000 with nothing to show for it, or $12,000 with lots of results, lots of phone calls, lots of closed cases and dollars back in your pocket.
When you’re talking to web marketing guys and they tell you that your website’s a little bit old, it’s not that you didn’t do a good job making it or creating it, it’s not that it wasn’t a good website three or four years ago, or even two or three years ago, it’s simply that Google changes the rules so fast. If your website is not constantly kept on top of it and you wait several years, you’re out of the game. We look at the changes Google has made just simply in the last twelve months, releasing Panda and Penguin, and dental websites that were made 18 or 24 months ago have been cut out of the game. It’s the evolution, it’s certainly going in a good direction because the quality of the websites has greatly improved and that’s what Google is after. They want extreme quality, they want lots of content and lots of good video and all this media that people can digest and engage with. In 18 or 24 months from now will the same tactics that we use today be producing results? The answer is likely no. It’s constantly evolving, it’s constantly changing, it’s an ongoing cat and mouse game with Google to find out what works and implement those strategies for our dentists to stay on top of it.
To summarize, yes you can do optimization or pay-per-click to an existing website, but it’s not money well spent in my opinion and it’s often handled on a case by case basis. It’s not necessarily is your website over x age, no we can’t work with it or yes we can, it’s something that we review and look at. Oftentimes there are a number of good aspects on a website and we can simply go in and change the ones that aren’t current, update the ones that need updating and keep a lot of the existing site that you built. It’s all case by case but that is the general strategy that we’re looking at. You can spend money on anything, but is it money well spent? Generally no, but it’s handled on a case by case basis.
Let’s jump in to number six. This one involves staff labor. A lot of offices are doing good follow up. Some offices aren’t of course, some have no follow up. Some have a number of good follow up strategies in place; they’re sending out letters, they’re sending out text messages. We were doing a video shoot up in New Jersey last week and the front office staff was actually text confirming all the patients that had appointments the next day from their personal cell phones. I was like wow, how much time are you guys spending doing that?
There are all kinds of systems to automate your appointment reminders, your appointment confirmations as well as your marketing engine. Our Zetetics system for example can automatically send out emails, postcards, letters, text messages, we can send faxes if by some chance you want to send your patient a fax. We can send out all these different mediums automatically to your patients in a pre-configured way that you don’t even have to touch. If you’ve got this big Excel spreadsheet or you’ve got a big dry erase board on your wall and you’re trying to keep track of who’s called in; who’s warm and who’s not, who you’ve presented cases to, who’s accepted treatment, who has completed treatment and you want to generate referrals from them.
We have the follow up systems to automate all of that for you, to automate a referral system where we can send out postcards and letters and gifts to patients that have completed treatment for years after they come to their practice. Send them a postcard in the mail every few months that says hey, we really appreciate your business, if you have any friends that we could help to chew comfortably again and eat the foods they love we’d love to help them. We’ll send you a $200 giftcard to the Cheesecake Factory and we’ll give your friend $200 off your treatment if you recommend them. Automate what can be automated. The follow up stuff can be automated, phone tracking can be automated so you’re not stressing about trying to find out where these calls came from, your referral system can be automated; the technology exists out there right now with Infusionsoft and AWeber and ConstantContact, and all of these systems. Those guys are doing email automation. There are systems out there such as ours that can do more; text messages, emails, letters, postcards, the whole shebang.
Automate it, free up your staff. I know from personal experience, we switched to Infusionsoft in 2008 and I literally, before we switched to Infusionsoft we had AWeber and we had ConstantContact and we had some homegrown systems for our marketing and we were using Act for our contact management, our CRM, we had all these different systems that didn’t really communicate with each other, it was just a disaster. When we switched to Infusionsoft it was an investment, but it literally freed up an entire staff member who was dedicated to just managing the systems and inputting the data into the different systems. Literally $45,000 a year we saved going to Infusionsoft. Sure, the investment was there. We spent $15 or 20,000 converting to Infusionsoft and getting that rocking and rolling, but now we’re saving $45,000 a year on staff labor. I don’t have a staff member assigned to doing that all anymore; we’ve got a very, very streamlined system. Automate it, automate it, automate it; I can’t stress it enough.
And then the seventh item. Of course, all of your money is spent in the wrong place if you don’t know the return you are getting for it. Just to rehash what I said at the beginning of the conversation, if you buy anything of value, real estate, stock, bond, house, you know your cost basis and you know your profit or loss at any point in time and when you sell it. Your marketing should be just that plain and simple to track. The systems exist out there to do this. We’ve developed our Zetetics system to do just that; track phone calls, track cases, track consults and track the dollars back into your pocket. We record the calls for you for quality control; make sure your staff is following the proper phone training. There’s nothing worse than spending thousands and tens of thousands of dollars on marketing, only to find out that your front desk is fumbling the first phone call. Or even worse yet, something that we see fairly common, I won’t say fairly common, we see regularly enough is the phone isn’t even being answered at all. Your staff is so tied up answering appointment changes and existing patient calls that when that new patient does call in the phone doesn’t even get answered.
There are tons of ways that you can do things wrong. There are a few ways that you can do things right. Make sure that you’re tracking everything so you know exactly what you’re getting. If you’re having trouble with your phones we’re glad to help. The backline is certainly a very efficient way to streamline your incoming new patient phone calls and separate them from existing patient phone calls and maintenance stuff.
Get started with some tracking. For three phone call tracking lines which can track three different pieces of your marketing. Say you’re doing a direct mail piece, you have a Yellow Pages ad or a newspaper ad in a magazine; you’ve got three different marketing pieces. To track three of them you’re talking about less than $100 a month. Any marketing you’re spending out there is more than $100 a month, probably more than $1,000 a month. Even TV spots here in Louisville, Kentucky right now are running $2 – 3 – 400 a spot; if you get on any kind of package you’re easily spending $3 or 4 or 5,000 a month, so track it. Know exactly what you’re getting. If you are unhappy with your results don’t base it on guesses or conjectures, just look at the report. The report will tell you, I spent this money, that led to this many phone calls, which converted into this many consultations, we presented cases, this many accepted and what did that generate? That generated $22,496.32 of production into my bank account. That should be as easy as tracking and marketing is these days. It should just be that simple.
I’ve dumped a lot of information on you here on this podcast. I hope I haven’t scared anybody off, but I’d like to offer to you completely free our free report to help you get your practice on track to finding the patients that you want and attracting the patients that you want into your practice. It’s our Dental Website Audit, and it can be downloaded right off our website, smartboxdentalmarketing.com. Click at the top, click Training and then the Dental Website Audit and it’s right there. I would encourage you to take a look at it; it’s our 40 page free report that we have laid out so simply what you need to do to be successful with your online marketing. From automated follow up, prequalification, video, social media, the whole alphabet soup of pay-per-click and SEO and local search and SEM and SMO and all this stuff; all the jargon. It explains it to you in super simple terms what you need to be doing and, more importantly, what areas, what pitfalls to avoid with your online marketing.
That’s all for today. The link again www.DentalWebAudit.com. Check that out and if you have any feedback I’d love to hear from you. You can email me directly, firstname.lastname@example.org. Colin Receveur here; thanks for watching this edition of the fast thoughts on dental marketing. Keep moving forward.