What matters more – Creativity or analytics?
The changes in dentistry and healthcare are creating opportunities and challenges for healthcare givers who market their business. The changes are driven by three variables: movement towards insurance, an industry wide consolidation and the educated dental consumer. In the end, marketers must be focused on cost containment, transparency, quality outcomes and patient satisfaction.
Direct To Consumer Marketing
When the average person hears the term “direct to consumer advertising” they think of magazine ads, and radio and television commercials. In actuality, direct to consumer marketing is omnipresent. You can’t surf the web without being bombarded by SEM (search engine marketing). You can’t drive down the street without seeing signs and bill boards. Your mail box is littered with all kinds of solicitations. I just attended a major league ballgame (Citi Field) and the outfield fences were filled with digital marketing messages that changed every few minutes. Even the score board was branded! Don’t focus solely on the tradional forms of advertising, think of the myriad of options available to you.
Another component of the Direct to Consumer marketing phenomenon is the consumer experience. If your message is entirely about your product and fails to create an emotional and compelling story, then you will not resonate with today’s consumer. The customer experience is compulsory and has potential to yield positive, organic marketing retweets and social media posts. This will contribute to your DTC (direct to consumer) marketing and will enhance your outreach! In the dental office we need to be purposeful and effective, but our demeanor must be friendly, respectful and courteous. Realtors say, Is it a sellers’ market or it’s a buyers’ market? Well, today it’s the patients market!
So what’s changed? How is the marketing different?
Years ago we strived for the most creative and thought provoking marketing campaigns; we embraced flash on our websites and worried about fonts, tag lines and logos. Today, the value proposition for marketing remains firmly on the creative, however it is now driven by analytics. The world’s most renowned advertising and marketing firms find themselves competing with consulting firms and telecommunication giants who are intertwined with big data. Analytics provide us with data that allows us to target specific consumer groups and effectively reduce costly marketing errors.
Dental marketing is not immune to the pressures of business. Like everything else, the pressure to perform has put an emphasis on analytics. Marketers have been using all kinds of demographics and research to reach their audience since the beginning of time. Today, we have algorithms and software programs that yield specificity and intelligence never imagined. In other words, we have the tools to identify and market who we want and when we want as well as knowing their likes and dislikes. The take away is don’t just advertise, use analytics to determine the target and medium that will yield the best results, then be creative!
Mobile technology has also changed. It is the preferred tool to access everything on the web. People are on their smart phones for several hours every day. We have ring tones and notification sounds to alert us when a new e-mail, social media post or text hits our phone. We are addicted to the technology and marketers are making it work for them. You must make it work for you too.
In healthcare, the movement towards a digital and paperless workflow has been underway for over two decades. During this time, the technological revolution has digitized many of our processes and has improved our efficiency and capacity. But just because we have a John Deer in the garage doesn’t mean we have the best manicured lawn on the block. Even artificial intelligence is dependent on our engagement, direction and commands.
Web based marketing has grown exponentially over the last decade. It has taken many of the resources previously dedicated to traditional marketing efforts. This is an across the board movement in all industries including healthcare. It is believed that upwards of 70% of all patients are using the web to research, communicate or schedule appointments. On the medical side, over 80 percent of patients who require surgery or special services are visiting the caregiver or hospital web site to do research and about 45% of those healthcare consumers do their surfing on a mobile device. In most cases, the patient or consumer has already done some homework before they speak to the provider or business in which they select to do business with.
First “Digital” Impressions are critical
Your content is important and can contribute to the consumers’ opinion and their decision making. According to various researchers, prior to booking an appointment with a new doctor over 75% of patients have done some research online.
Healthcare marketers continue to adjust to the new world of outcome based compensation models, clinical and operational transparency and an empowered healthcare consumer.
I have asked the smartest guy I know in marketing (Abe Kasbo) to give us five poignant facts about dental marketing.
Mr. Abe Kasbo is the principal of Verasoni Worldwide, one of Americas leading healthcare marketing firms. Abe is a leading voice in healthcare marketing, including dentistry, and has spoken at the Swedish American Life Sciences Summit in Stockholm, the Montreal #140 Conference among other notable meetings national and internationally. He is also founder of Dentourage, a website development firm, only catering to the dental community.
- Social Search is the New Organic SEO: If word of mouth is responsible for about 70% of your patient flow, then social search is your “digital word of mouth.” Social media makes it easy for people to ask for recommendations on dentists. From where we sit, we believe social search is an incredibly powerful and least understood marketing strategy. It’s far more powerful than say, reviews, because recommendations are coming from people who are known, perhaps even recognized community influencers, rather than random online reviews.
What you should do about this: Ensure your website experience is top notch. Many people will simply post the URL of your practice when asked for recommendations, so the immediate experience must be world class.
- Marketing Portfolio Balance: This is imperative whether you’re “Abrams Family Dentistry” or a global conglomerate. If you’re in business, your marketing allocation will determine your results, not what platform you use (internet, TV advertising, direct mail). Believe it or not, people are “offline,” so it’s critical to determine your integrated strategies, allocate the investment in each and measure. And if something doesn’t work, find out why, adjust and repeat. No reasonable business says “Yeah we did that once and it didn’t work.” Marketing is a management issue that ought to be part of your daily business, not an activity. If you’re managing it as an activity, it’s likely to be costing you money and opportunity.
- Website of Old: Websites are moving from being lead generators to brand validators. Because of the explosive rise in social search, the mobile environment, and the already popular voice search and digital assistants; your website must deliver a simple experience to give visitors the information they want quickly. Our proprietary research shows that visitor spend 3 seconds or less on your home page while “about the doctor” gets the majority of time spent on dental websites. Be concise, be mobile, and be ready for yet another change to how people use the web; as you know it comes very fast.
- Brand Elevation is Key: The rise of influencer marketing will continue to deliver for those who understand and use it well. Community involvement is key and making sure you deliver the highest possible patient experience will get people talking positively about your practice. That, and that alone, will make the most significant contribution to your brand, and your brand’s reputation. So get off of Facebook and engage patients in your community as well as your practice!
- Ad Words Deliver: Because of the limited space on your mobile phone, Google and other major search engines are delivering their ads first. Rather than presenting organic results first, Google, Bing, Yahoo, want their advertisers to get the immediate attention rather than organic players. Ensuring SEM (search engine marketing) is a part of your over integrated strategy is a must. We believe AdWords, depending on your geography and the competitive appetite for your services in your region, can be highly accretive to your practice’s marketing efficiency and ROI.