Want to Improve Your Authority-Based Dental Marketing? Think Locally.
- On October 17, 2016
You’ve decided to improve your dental marketing. You’ve really upped the quality of your blog, you’ve seen a huge increase in organic search traffic, and you’re getting readers from all over the country. Yet, somehow, this success in marketing your expertise hasn’t translated into an increased number of patients, referrals or case acceptances. You’ve read the articles, you’ve honed your skills, you’re clearly doing everything right, so why haven’t you seen results?
In some cases, your problem might simply be impatience. It takes time for your work on authority-based marketing to translate into more dental patients, because authority marketing is an organic process. Authority helps you to build relationships with future patients, but they won’t become actual patients until they have a problem and you have a solution. There’s a good chance that your current work has planted seeds that won’t mature for a while.
Measuring the Wrong Thing?
There’s also a good chance that, while your marketing stats look good, they’re the wrong stats. A lot of the advice you’ll find on SEO and content marketing is geared towards people who want a national audience. Many suggest using Google’s autocomplete function to find search terms related to your practice. For instance, if you type the phrase “Why does my dentist” into Google, the autocomplete will give you results like “hate me”, “take blood pressure,” “measure my gums,” and “need my SSN.” (These are the actual results I received this morning, as I was writing this article. The results will vary depending on when you check, since the most common searches vary over time, but you get the idea.)
If you live in a large metropolitan area, targeting these search terms might be helpful and drive traffic to your site and patients to your practice. However, in many parts of the country, the traffic jump you see from targeting these terms will include many, many hits from people who don’t even live within driving distance of your practice. It really doesn’t matter if someone 700 miles away thinks you’re a helpful and knowledgeable dentist. They’re going to find someone closer when they need to make an appointment. Other social media metrics, like retweets and Facebook likes and shares, have a similar problem. We measure these things because they’re easy to measure, but total likes and shares won’t actually bring you new patients. The most important statistic, and one of the hardest to collect, involves how your articles, blogs, and podcasts are reaching people locally.
Where Do People Get Their Local News?
To turn articles, blog posts, and books into new patient visits, you need to focus on local people, not some really enthusiastic dental fanatic who happens to live in Kathmandu. (Unless you also live in Kathmandu, of course.) Your first step is to learn where people in your area get news and information.
When the Nieman Foundation at Harvard looked at how people across the United States get local news, they found that the type of community affected where people went looking for advice. In urban areas, television and blogs play an outsized role. However, in rural areas and small towns, people get more of their news from local papers, radio, Facebook, and chatting with friends and neighbors.
What does this mean if you’re a dentist working outside a major metropolitan area? You need to market yourself in ways that will feed into social media and word-of-mouth marketing. Good SEO and informative blog posts may help your website show up in Google searches, but you’re going to need something more to reach new patients. You’ll have to move beyond online publishing, and reach people where they’re at: reading the newspaper, riding in cars, and talking to their friends online and in person.
Five Local Authority Marketing Venues You Should Be Using to Build Your Dental Practice
How do you reach people in your community? Here are five can’t-be-missed opportunities to reach out and start using local in-person and online social networks to build your patient base through authority marketing.
1. The Library. Library users tend to be more engaged in their community than the average person. They love to learn, and they love to talk about what they’ve learned. If you’ve written a book about dentistry as part of your authority marketing campaign, organize a talk and signing at your local library. If you haven’t written a book, offer to give a talk, or a series of talks, to celebrate National Dental Health month. People will come and see you, hear what you have to say, and leave ready to recommend you to family and friends.
2. Your Local Paper. The paper is where people get their news, and many smaller papers are on the lookout for new material. If you have the time, pitch a column to your paper, and write up something once a week or even once a month. If that seems like too much of a commitment, or if you don’t enjoy writing, consider sending in a press release a few times a year, even if it’s just “Dr. Jones Completes Continuing Education Class on Bone Loss and Implants.” The key is to get your name and accomplishments out there, and to present them in a way that builds trust and confidence in your abilities.
3. Local Schools and Afterschool Programs. It’s true, kids don’t pick their dentist. But their parents and grandparents do. So volunteer to run a ‘dental health education’ program for schools, and tie it into the state curriculum guidelines for science and health education. Send the kids home with bags of goodies like toothbrushes, magnets, and a pamphlet for adults in the house.
4. Facebook. Remember how I said that likes and shares are a poor metric of local exposure? That’s true, but even though it’s difficult to measure, a Facebook presence is still essential for building authority. Facebook gives you a place to share your videos and articles to build authority. Add some memes to the mix, too. Then, share your material with local friends and family. For a fee, you can also create ‘sponsored posts’ that run in the feeds of people in your area. This can be a great way to share an especially great video, podcast, or article with the people most likely to become your patients.
5. Local Businesses. Why do diners often have a stack of free newspapers and newsletters in the vestibule? Because many people like to read as they drink their coffee and eat their breakfast, and not everyone wants to be on their phone all of the time. Start producing a monthly dental newsletter aimed at people in your area, and drop off copies (with permission) in places where people tend to gather and wait: hospital labs, mechanics, diners, hair salons. Offer an online or email version too, but don’t neglect these physical drop-off points. If someone reads your blog, they may be marooned on an island in the South Seas, but if they pick up your newsletter at the local hairdresser, you know that they’re someone who regularly comes to your area for appointments and who will be willing to make the drive for a good, trustworthy dentist.
When you focus your content marketing strategies on reaching local people, you’ll get a better return on your investments of time and money. Are you still unsure of where to start, or how to write a good newsletter or article? Email me or check out my website for more tips on authority and dental marketing.