Maximize Your Online Presence, Minimize Your Stress

by By Lou Shuman, DMD, CAGS, CEO and Founder of Cellerant Consulting

Experts offer advice to navigate the ever-changing “best practices” in marketing to potential patients.

When evaluating the latest cone beam unit, caries detection device or milling machine – these innovations come down to whether they are the right choice for each individual practice. However, when it comes to innovation in establishing the practice’s online presence, “keeping up” is less of a choice and critical in nature to compete in the modern marketplace.

Having the right partner helps. More than a plug-and-play template approach to dental marketing, WEO Media is a company I’ve come to respect because in a world obsessed with automation, they don’t just push a button – the team puts its nose to the grindstone, working hard to make your practice successful.

A presence in our industry since the wild west days of the world wide web, I wanted to sit down with WEO Co-founders Cory Roletto and Ian McNickle to discuss how the definition of “online presence” has changed for dental practices over the last decade and, more importantly, what smart practice owners should be considering for the future.

Other than Facebook, what do you see as the essential pieces to a dental practice’s digital platform?
CR: The next generation has migrated to Instagram and are making their own buying decisions – that means it has a bigger role to play. Depending on what your practice does, other platforms can be useful. For example, Pinterest has a reputation as being more crafty; so if you’re posting a lot of images – like before-and-after smiles – it can be a good platform. If you’re really into video, YouTube is an obvious choice, but a lot of young people are moving to platforms like Twitch and Vimeo, and also Periscope, which does live streaming.

We tell our clients to start by thinking about what makes a good patient for them; look at the demographics of those patients and see what social media platforms are most utilized by that demographic. That will give you an idea of where to target your efforts. Effectively using social media takes time, so you have to be smart about where you spend that time and what you focus on.

I think many dentists recognize how much time and effort this takes. The solution many of them choose is to hire their niece who is really good at Instagram. If affinity for the platform is important – which we acknowledged earlier in this conversation – then why work with a company like WEO rather than an eager young person?

IM: Social media is a lot like marketing: if you don’t understand specifics, it is difficult to be good at it. The niece won’t have any idea on how a patient converts to become a lead. There will be a series of things the strategic practice will want to do and having specific industry knowledge is huge: creating the right content, using right terminology, understanding the flow of the business. Deep knowledge and expertise in an industry moves you from helpful to driving success.

With your emphasis on staying not only current, but also ahead of the game, what do you see as the future of marketing for the dental practice?
CR: We’ve discussed social media quite a bit already, but the new things catching a younger demo are Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Twitch and the surge right now for TikTok. When it comes to websites, the major catalyst for technological advancement was screen size – much smaller and bigger. I don’t see that need changing much at this point, so when I look to future drivers, I think the emphasis will be on more interactive features, motion and better integration of social components.

IM: One additional angle to consider is what is changing in marketing and not just technology. For years, we’ve done a good job on behalf of our clients, getting them ranked highly and driving a lot of new phone calls and patient opportunities for the practice, but what can happen – more often than it should – is that the team member on the other end of the line doesn’t have great ability in converting those leads into patients. The future of dental marketing will be shaped by the companies who can practice all phases of generating patients. In my book, Mastering Practice Growth: The Definitive Guide To Growing Your Dental Practice Or Dental Group, I talk about the three steps of generating a patient: 1. Generate the lead; 2. Convert the lead to an appointment; and 3. Convert the appointment into dentistry, which is case acceptance.

The companies that can assist practices with an A-to-Z approach to generating a new patient represent the future of dental marketing. If all you’re focused on is websites, it can seem like a pretty crowded field of providers, but to me, a way to differentiate and really add value is getting doctors what they want – to help them with generating and converting leads into dentistry.

Note: As a columnist for Dental Products Report and Dental Economics, some of these technologies or concepts may have been discussed in other platforms. All content for Oral Health readership is original.

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