Dr Joanna Gray (PhD, LLB, B.Com(Hons)) and Coach/ Trainer at Momentum
There’s no doubt that in the modern era, having a digital presence beyond a website is a good idea. Increasingly, we’re hearing from young people (i.e. those in their early twenties) that they don’t even look at websites any more; they go straight to the Facebook pages of companies they’re thinking of engaging. You’re probably already aware that this is an issue, so let’s spend some time talking about specifics.
As with any marketing activity, the very first thing you need to understand is your ideal target market. Now, that’s probably not people in their early twenties, because at this point few of them need extensive work, and even fewer have the money to afford it. So each practice should define their target market as clearly as possible. Of course, you’ll still accept patients who fall outside that ideal target market; the point is that you spend time and energy on marketing as directly as possible to those who are in your target market.
The look and feel of your digital presence (e.g. the website, Facebook page and/or Instagram posts) should all be completely consistent with attracting your ideal patient. So consider what they want to know about you, and what they want to experience when they’re in the practice. For example, what they want to know about you should be focused on the problems dentistry can fix for them, rather than on a list of services your practice provides. They might want to experience comfort, friendliness, modernity… How does your web presence convey that across all the digital media that you’re using?
To that end, keep in mind that you have only about seven seconds to impress if the potential patient is browsing a webpage, and only about three seconds to impress if they’re scrolling through Facebook posts! So you need to grab attention in ways that are appealing while also being professional. Key words that stand out have much more impact than full sentences and long paragraphs. Authentic but professional photos and videos of you and the team have a much greater impact than slick, Photoshopped stock photos. And because our brains respond to human faces more than we do to anything else, photos of people are instantly more appealing than photos of empty rooms, regardless of how modern-looking your practice is.
Further, consider consumer behaviour these days. Customer service is still the key to success; delivering exceptional experiences should still be the uncompromising standard of your practice. You need to have your existing patients as raving fans! But where a personal recommendation from a happy patient to their family and friends used to result in direct phone calls, these days people will hear a recommendation, then usually go to your webpage and/or your Facebook page to get a feel for the place that’s been recommended. They’ll browse reviews on Google. And they’ll make a decision to book if the recommendation lines up with their own feel for what you’re offering.
The ideal for Facebook and Instagram is to have posts liked and shared. It’s therefore recommended that your posts are:
- 40% “see me”. “See me” posts are those that simply get attention. They can be inspirational quotes, funny pictures or videos, cute posts of team members’ babies; anything that’s likely to get a quick, positive response from people who see it.
- 40% “believe me”. “Believe me” posts establish you as the expert. They cover anything that you know that your potential patients might not know. Keep them simple, interesting and surprising.
- 20% “engage me”. “Engage me” posts are designed to rally the reader to take the action of booking with the practice. Have a clear call to action, and a very easy way of contacting you.
Practices wanting a solid Facebook and/or Instagram presence need to be posting at least once a day. The ideal is to post at a time that your target market is likely to be browsing. Again, understanding the behaviour of your target market is important. Are they standing at a bus stop or browsing on the way to work? Then schedule posts for 7.30 a.m. Or are they more likely to be browsing their phones at night while watching telly? Then schedule posts for 6.30 p.m.
This might sound heavy on resources! And yes, for the first time in Australian dental history, marketing is now becoming a daily activity! That said, there are scheduling programs that allow the practice to identify what will be posted and to set times for those posts to occur. Ideally, the practice has someone responsible for scheduling, who sits down for a couple of hours a month and sets up all the posts for the coming month. So think about who and how, and create a system for this. And of course, let us know here at Momentum (1300 519 000) if you would like our help in setting up these systems.
Some practices are already doing this really well, so it can be done! Practices that aren’t are running a very real risk of being left behind. So it’s time to get digital!