How NOT to Do Patient Videos

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Video is more important than ever in marketing your dental practice.  And video testimonials from your patients have two extremely valuable aspects: their credibility and their versatility. They are credible because they are real, spoken endorsements of your practice experience.  They are versatile because you can use them in so many places: your website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, your Yelp and your Google+ page, and in email marketing to new and existing patients.  That’s a lot of exposure.

Videos are also quite easy to do.  But there are several mistakes that people make when doing patient testimonials. Wait, you say, they’re not easy–they take time, they cost money, and people don’t want to do them.  Which leads me to…

Mistake #1. Over-producing your videos

Patient testimonials should be done with a smartphone.  You don’t need extensive lighting or an expensive camera.  Getting fancy actually diminishes the credibility of the video.  Keep it simple and un-intrusive, and people will be much more willing to do them for you. (This is in contrast to office tour or the dentist videos, which I discuss in this post, which should have higher quality.)

Mistake #2. Doing multiple “takes”

Part of keeping it simple is to do it once. Don’t make it complicated or involved. Just ask the patient if they would be willing to do a simple video testimonial.  If they are reluctant, just say, “If you don’t like it, we certainly won’t use it.  But just say in your own words what it’s like to be a patient here.”

You’ll be amazed at what people will say when they speak from the heart.  Every time I’ve seen this done, the person does their most genuine testimonial on the first try.  After that, they tend to overthink it.  Of course, if they want to do it over, let them.

Mistake #3. Making the video too long

Most people can say what they think in 30-45 seconds, which is perfect.  If it gets longer than a minute, people stop watching.

Mistake #4. Editing the video

Along the lines of Mistake #3, trying to do longer takes and cutting them down drastically diminishes the credibility of the testimonial.  People will assume you’re cutting out the bad parts.  A natural flow in a single take is the best.  You can put titles on the front and back, using something like iMovie, with the patient’s name and your practice name and contact information, but that’s it.  No cuts.

Mistake #5. Bad sound

This is the only part of the “production value”, as we say in Hollywood, where you do want to improve the quality.  Either use a very quiet room, with little to no background noise, or use a simple boom microphone that attaches to your smartphone.

Mistake #6. Shaky cam

Hold still.  You’ll make people sick with unstable camera movements.  Which can be solved if you use to hands, which you need to do if you are avoiding the next mistake.

Mistake #7. Framing vertically

Frame your video horizontally.  That’s the aspect ratio used on YouTube, so conform to it.  Holding your phone horizontally with two hands will also keep the image stable.

 

Mistake #8. Not tagging the video

When you post the video on YouTube, be sure to add the proper notations, or “tags”, so that Google knows what the video is about.  The tags should include “dentistry”, “dental patient”, your practice name, and anything specific regarding treatment that the patient may mention (like braces or veneers).

Mistake #9. Not getting a patient release

Don’t use the video if the patient won’t sign a release.  This is true of all photos and video that you do with patients.  And the language should include “for use in all media, including social media, in perpetuity.”  Use LegalZoom or an attorney to make sure you are conforming to the rules in your state.

 

You don’t need to shoot a lot of these videos.  Doing one every two weeks gives you 25, which is plenty in a year. If you have a dynamic website, like we make with WebDirector, you can post them easily, along with posting them on social media.  And you know what else this process does? It reminds patients to talk about your practice.  Even better, the dentist and the team gets to hear how much patients appreciate them. It’s a nice thing to watch in a morning huddle to get fired up about your day.

 

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Answering the Dreaded Money Question

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More new patients are calling asking about fees than ever before.  This is in part because of the recession, and the number of people who have moved down on the socio-economic scale.  But it’s also because people can now find the price of almost anything using their cell phone.

The other reason is they don’t know what else to ask when they call a dental practice, so they ask about cost.  The average person does not know how to evaluate a dental practice with regard to clinical skills, so they at least want to find out what they’re going to be paying.shutterstock_162345767

So how do you answer?  Most consultants will say that you shouldn’t ever quote fees over the phone.  Most front desk team members have either never heard this rule or don’t follow it.  Some even offer fees without being asked.

I try to discourage receptionists from getting into money over the phone.  But it really depends on what type of office you operate.  I will break them down into three types:

  1. The high-end, high-tech practice (usually all fee-for-service)
  2. The PPO practice with mid-range fees
  3. The HMO/State aid/credit dentist practice

How to respond when you are a high-end practice:

“We don’t normally quote fees over the phone.  Our dentist likes to do an evaluation of the patient and then recommend the best treatment.   We don’t accept insurance because we want to offer the highest standard of care possible, and most dental coverage is insufficient for that level of treatment.  We do have a wonderful office, and patients love us, and we are happy to do an evaluation at no charge to you, so you can see the dentist and the practice and decide for yourself. And we also have several financing options. Would you like to come in tomorrow?” [Your state may have different rules regarding free evaluations.]

How to respond as a PPO practice:

“Our fees are very reasonable for our area, and we do accept insurance plans and have financing options. But we really think you’d like our office, so we recommend coming in to get a free evaluation. We won’t charge you for anything without your approval, so you’ll always understand the cost ahead of time, because we know that’s important.  Can you come in this afternoon?”

If they keep pressing for a dollar amount, saying things like, “I just need to know how much a crown is at your office,” then respond with this:

“It sounds like you might be looking for the least expensive dentist. That isn’t us.  But we recommend coming in to see they type of practice we are and the level of care that we offer, so when you do find the lowest cost dentist you have something to compare it to.  And of course we won’t charge you for the evaluation.”

If they insist on the actual dollar amount, I would give them a range, explaining that it’s impossible to do an accurate diagnosis over the phone.

How to respond when you are an HMO/State Aid practice:

“Our fees are the lowest in the area, and we accept HMO plans [or state aid], and have excellent financing options for whatever is not covered by this insurance.  We don’t offer free dentistry, however, so there has to be some financial arrangement made before treatment begins. Can you come in this afternoon?”

Notice that I addressed the issue of “free dental work” right up front.  It’s critical to be clear about that, as very often their expectation is that you are like the emergency room and the county or the state pays for everything. (Last year ER visits for dentistry in the US cost over $1 billion…your tax dollars at work!  And it usually costs ten times more at the ER than it would in your office, and seldom is treatment completed.)

I would then tell them the cost of treatment, if they are asking about something specific like an extraction.  Your business model is to be the least expensive. They’re price shopping, so if they want to pay even less than you charge, you probably don’t want them as a patient.

 

THE THINKING BEHIND THIS

The cost of dentistry is definitely a factor for three-quarters of Americans, so don’t be dismissive of this concern.  But don’t just throw a number back at them.  Very often they are really trying to find out if they will be treated fairly, and don’t know what else to ask.  When you say, “our fees are reasonable for the area,” this gives them a frame of reference.

You have two goals in every call:

  1. shift their focus off the cost of an individual procedure
  2. get them in the practice.

(With the low-cost practice, your third goal is to be extremely clear that your treatments are not free.)

This is important to remember: no matter what you do or say, YOU WILL NOT GET EVERYONE IN!  But you improve your chances of starting the relationship right by making it about the care you offer, not the price you charge.

Most of this language I’ve learned from the masters of communication, Linda Miles and Bernie Stoltz.  But getting good at effective communication is critical to any practice.  So get coaching where you need it.  It will profoundly effect your results.

 

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Dental Blogging Made Easy

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You may be asking, “Do I really need a blog?  Who the heck is going to read it?” For most of you, the answer is, “Nobody. Except Google.”  In other words, you’re doing it for SEO, the Google juice. You are creating content relevant to dentistry that links back to your website and practice.  Google likes that a lot.Blog for theGooglejuice!

As far as consumers–patients–not that many are willing to read blogs written by dentists.  They like food blogs a lot more (like my wife’s, The High Heel Gourmet).  But if your blog is displayed in your website they will be more likely to at least glance at the posts.

But because search engines like Google are looking outside your website to see what other content or mentions there are about your practice, then a blog is critical, especially since it is unique content, and by that I mean not just content supplied by your website builder. Your blog doesn’t have to be brilliantly unique, just written by you or someone on your team.

GETTING STARTED:

Step one is to pick a blog hosting site.  I recommend WordPress or Blogger.  These are free, and if you pay a little, they don’t run little ads inside your blog.

Step two is to pick a theme.  Many of these themes are like online magazines, which is overkill for what you are intending.  Pick something simple, and also “responsive”, which means it adapts easily to any device and still looks good.  Something like “2011″ in WordPress or “Simple” in Blogger.

DESIGNING YOUR BLOG LOOK:

As you set up your blog, they will ask you what you want to call it, and specific questions about how you want it to look.

You will need a name for your blog. Nothing long or elaborate, but not just your practice name or your website domain name.  More like this: “The Blog of Ed Flynn, DDS”.  Part of it should have “dental” or “dentist” or “smile” in it.  You want to be identified as dentistry, not just health care, or just you.

Then you will choose a domain name.  It’s going to have “blogspot” or “wordpress” as part of it right now. Let them add this. Don’t worry about your own domain just yet.  This domain name can be something shorter than your blog title, and they will show you if it’s available. Here again try to get “dental” or “dentistry” into it.

You can choose your favorite color palette and upload an image, possibly your practice logo or a picture of you or your team or even something that just looks good.

As part of your setup, you want to connect your blog to Google+, which you should already have a profile on for your practice. If not, you need to claim your business on Google, which means you need to read this blog and the blog it links to.

Believe it or not, you’re ready to start blogging.  You can tinker with the settings later, none of that is really critical at this point.  And you can even change the theme later on, and everything will change and nothing will be lost.

WHAT TO WRITE:

This is where you are going to write about dentistry, any way you can think of. Two short paragraphs, two or three sentences each.  You don’t need a lot of content here to be effective.

So write about:

  • Your technology
  • Your training
  • Your favorite electric toothbrush
  • Managing gum disease
  • Bad breath
  • Etc.

Get it?  Pretty much anything.

HOW OFTEN TO POST:

Weekly, ideally.  But you don’t have to do it every week. The beauty of blogging is you can schedule when they post.  In the “Publish” section on the blog composing page you can see where you can edit whether or not to publish immediately.  So you can write five or ten blogs at a time and schedule them to publish in sequence.

I don’t necessarily recommend the dentist be the author.  I think it could easily be the social media designee in the office.  Remember, you’re not publishing a paper for JADA.  You’re writing for spiders. (That’s the term for the Google robots that “read” everything on the internet.)

AMPLIFYING THE REACH AND SEO:

If you have a website that is dynamic, your blog can feed into it automatically.  This is one of the many reasons why you want a website like we build with WebDirector. To learn more about dynamic websites read this post.

You can also post your blog on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. There is a button in the blog editing page called “short code”, which gives you a simple code to put into a post on social media, and it doesn’t just provide a hotlink but also the title and beginning of the blog, as well as any picture you posted.

This is Blogging 101, to get you in the game.  You can certainly take it to the next level if you find it interesting to do.  An excellent example is Dr. Charles Payet’s blog, Smiles by Payet, which he has been writing for years, and doing a marvelous job.  In fact, he has multiple blogs, some for patients, some for dentists.

So get started. It will take months for Google to index your blog, and you can always go back and re-edit them after they were published.  You can do very little harm and eventually get a lot of Google juice out of it.

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Is It Unprofessional to Sell Dentistry?

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Not at all, despite what you may have heard from your professors in school or various society board members, or even your peers. In fact, I think it’s more unprofessional NOT to sell dentistry.

Why?  Isn’t selling some vile, despicable process where people get talked into something they don’t need and can’t afford?sleazy salesman  Not exactly.  Selling is just communication with a purpose.  It is neither negative nor positive.  In reality, we sell all the time, but just don’t call it that.

I think a lot of dentists have a negative attitude toward the concept of selling exactly because they have been told, erroneously, that it is unprofessional to do so.  But when someone doesn’t understand the value of something,  the advantage of something, and the benefit to themselves, they require information and often persuasion to make what will be a good decision for them.

I had an insight recently about human nature and people’s behavior with regard to dental treatment, which was this:  People don’t have buyer’s remorse when it comes to dentistry.  

Think about it.  When’s the last time a patient came back and said, “I wish I hadn’t gotten these implants and was still eating baby food,” or, “I wish I hadn’t done that root canal. I’d rather still have the money and the pain.”  It doesn’t happen.  People have buyer’s remorse with all sorts of things they spend money on: electronics, clothes, cars, even houses.

But they don’t have it with dentistry. This to me is the strongest indicator of the real value of what you do.

I sincerely believe that if you encounter a patient who is in need of restorative dentistry for both the quality of their life and the maintenance of their health, then you are being unprofessional by not making your best effort to persuade them to undergo treatment.  Why?  Because the primary beneficiaries of the treatments are THEM, not YOU.

And that’s critical to remember.  Of course you will be paid to do the treatment.  But it’s not about you getting rich, it’s about them getting healthier.  Most patients are woefully ignorant about the importance of oral health.

And that’s the basic formula: if something is valuable, critical to the health and well-being of a person, and is also misunderstood or, even more common, the person is in serious denial about, what you have is something that needs to be sold.

Sure, it would be great if people wanted the maximum dentistry they could get, as fast as possible.  But they don’t.  They think putting it off has no consequences.  Which is part of why it’s your responsibility to facilitate that treatment acceptance with effective presentation and persuasion skills.

Most people need to be talked into getting life insurance.  Is it a bad thing to have? Quite the opposite.  But like dentistry, not a lot of fun is associated with the expenditure.  And saving for retirement is by definition a delaying of gratification, which is why I have to twist my employees arms to put some money into their 401k.  Am I a cheap hustler for doing it?  Or am I helping them to take a longer view of things than the next two weeks.

That’s the challenge of dentistry, too–the fact that it’s about a long-term investment, which most people don’t find appealing, especially when instant gratification is everywhere else.  All the more reason to refine your presentation skills, not just your clinical ones.

I sell all the time, and I’m proud of it, because I know that what I’m offering helps dentists to succeed.  And I also know that most of the time they would much rather spend their money on something more fun, like a new laser or a Maserati, but my persuasive skills help them to take the long view about building their business.  I would consider myself unprofessional if I didn’t convince a dentist who had no website that it was high time he got one, or if I let an office manager continue to believe that her patients don’t want text messages or emails, when I know that half of them do.

Will I make money in the process?  Yes.  There’s no crime, no shame, in win/win. My simple goal is that their benefit is greater than mine.

In relationships, I have a guiding principle that I use.  I ask myself, what is the most loving thing to do for this person at this moment?  And it applies to business too, and especially dentistry, which requires more tough love than a lot of other life situations. Is it loving to let a patient think that putting off treatment will not have negative repercussions?   Is it loving to leave them ignorant of the need and benefits of treatment?  No.  It’s just easier.  Less stressful.

If you’re reluctant to develop your sales skills, then I adamantly maintain that you are doing your patients a disservice.  And if you don’t have team members who not only believe in the value of dentistry but are comfortable convincing patients to accept treatment, then you are doing your patients a disservice.

They came to you as the professional. Fulfill that role.

 

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Facebook Rules, Windows XP and the 5th Edition of my Book

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I have three unrelated things to tell you about.

Facebook Thumb

First is I’m doing a webinar on Wednesday at 11am Pacific Time, entitled “Facebook Rules of Thumb”, giving you some deep insight and practical advice on how to take full advantage of social media as part of your practice marketing.  It’s free, of course.  Just click here to register.

Second is that as of April 8, 2014 (basically, a month from now), Windows XP will no longer be acceptable as part of your HIPAA compliance solution.  Microsoft won’t be offering support any longer for XP after that date.

Why this is not compliant is in large part because there will be no further security updates.  Holes will not be plugged, in other words, and you’ll be much more open to viral attack. Upgrade to Windows 7 (not 8, which apparently is quite cumbersome) or replace the hardware in your office, or both.  Talk to your distributor or PMS support for the best solution for your current system.

Third, I have revised my book once again.  This is the fifth edition of Everything is Marketing, with lots of new information regarding digital media, websites and the new consumer behavior.  You can buy the hardcover or the audiobook by clicking on the book cover to the left, and use the discount code “fred joyal” to get a great deal! (Gotta take care of my faithful readers!)  You can also buy it on Kindle now, but give Nook a week or so to get updated.

If you have a previous edition of my book, fill out the form below and I will send you a file that has the three sections with the major changes to the book, in PDF or audio, or both, if you like.

That’s it for now.

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Are You Ready to Cut Your Fees in Half?

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Transparency in pricing is a powerful trend affecting most industries today, and I’ve seen indications that it is coming for dentistry.  In the car business, for example, you can go to TrueCar and see exactly what the factory invoice on any car is, as well as what the discount range is on virtually every vehicle.  Countless travel sites compare hotel room prices or plane flights. And the cheapest price for any appliance can easily be found online.

There are strong forces at work to do the same thing in dentistry. Brighter, for example is a company that has negotiated significantly lower fees with participating dentists, and allows the person searching to compare the costs of procedures by dentist.  They’ve raised $28 million in venture capital to launch a business specifically designed to cut your fees in half.  That applies to all your fees, not just a new patient offer.  This kind of win/lose proposition makes the dental insurance companies seem appealing by comparison.

This is also a problem if you are not a “Brighter dentist”, because consumers will start to believe that you are overcharging. It will also increase the number of calls that you will get asking about the cost of every procedure. In essence, this is the commodification of dentistry, and I can’t see how that’s a good thing.

It’s probably only a matter of time before someone feels the need to create a website that lists every procedure and what it costs all around the country, based on UCRs, or some other source.  While we in the industry know that many things control fees, from your location, to the degree of technology in your facility, to the insurance reimbursements, the average consumer thinks you make too much money, and this will only grow as a belief.Value is aperception-2

So what are you to do in the face of this inevitability? Here’s one thing I’ve learned in many years of business and advertising: value is a perception, not a calculation.  Granted, some people are just looking for the cheapest dentistry because they have no, or very limited, money to pay for it.  But for people who have anxiety about dentistry, who appreciate genuine compassionate care, who want an expert to work on their body, not the cheapest provider, then cost is a secondary consideration.

Zappos is not the cheapest way to buy shoes. It’s the most convenient way, with the best service. BMWs are not the cheapest cars, but just try to get one of their owners to switch to a Kia. Whole Foods is not the cheapest grocery store (not even close!) But they have built a perception of value that is not based on being the cheapest, and they are all doing tremendous business.  So maybe the exact perception you want to build is that you are not the cheapest dentist, nor do you strive to be.

I’ve also observed that many people use higher pricing as an indicator that the service or product is better than average, just as they tend to assume that the absolute cheapest price means the lowest quality. This is what we need to get them to understand about dentistry.  People tend to believe that almost all dentistry is the same, and it’s just a matter of finding the cheapest way of getting it.  You can only do that with effective, clear communication. It is going to be more and more important to create an overall experience in your practice that communicates higher value. (Did I mention that everything is marketing?)

That communication is often going to begin with the first phone call. Many practices ask me how to address this situation when someone is price shopping.  My recommendation is language like this:

“We’re not trying to be the cheapest dentist. Our fees are very reasonable, with many financing options, but what we offer is a practice that offers a very high standard of care in a comfortable environment, and we try to provide that as affordable as possible.  And we think if you come in and see for yourself, and we are happy to do an initial exam at no charge just so you can get a sense of the level of care we provide, then at least you’ll have something to compare it to when you visit the cheapest dentist’s office.”

Will this work every time? Of course not. But you don’t need everyone.  You will not get some people, those for whom price determines value, and their mouth is just an appliance in need of cheap repair.  But many people want a dentist that makes them feel comfortable, that they trust, that cares about them, and gives them good health advice.  I’m guessing you want to attract those people.  So be that kind of dentist.

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Want More Reviews? Make It Easy!

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There is a simple principle to apply when you want someone to help you out–make it as easy as possible for them to do so, and the number of people who do it will increase exponentially.

For example, when the Red Cross was raising money for Haiti after the hurricane, they made it possible for people to simply send a text that would charge their phone bill.  They raised $5 million in the first day!  Just because it was easy.

One of the best ways to raise money for a charity is to ask people in the checkout line at the grocery store if they want to add a dollar for breast cancer research, feeding the homeless, or whatever cause is supported at the time.  It’s a tap of the finger, and it yields millions, one buck at a time.

The same is true for patient reviews.  Most of your patients are more than willing to do one if you ask them, but the easier you make it, the more likely they are to get it done.  The less steps involved, the higher the percentage will complete (this is true of just about everything, now that I think of it!)

Okay, how?  First, remember the four key places you want reviews to appear: your website, Google, Yelp and Facebook.  And with Google, and I believe with Yelp, patients cannot do those reviews from any device in your office, including their own if they’re using your office WiFi, because Google and Yelp will discard them. (Yelp has other filters, too, and this post talks about that.)

The easiest way is for a patient to be able to click on a hyperlink (you know, when the text is blue rather than black in an email, or this blog) that takes them straight to your Google Place or your Yelp page.  Obviously you need to have claimed those already. (If you haven’t, despite my nagging, read this for Google or this for Yelp.)

To do this, you need to have patient emails. This is one of the two main reasons you want all your patients’ email addresses. The other is for appointment reminders, of course. Then you use your automated digital communication software to send a specific email requesting a review.  For Google, you would only send this email to patients who have a gmail address, because they are the only ones that Google allows to do reviews.

PatientActivator and some the other apps have a pre-written email form that you can use, and all you have to do is put in your Google or Yelp URL (and we’d help you with that, too.) It looks like this:

Google_Review_Request

Send a few dozen of these out a week, and you’ll have a steady stream of reviews on both those sites.

You can use the same application to email requests for posts, likes and check-ins on Facebook, but I prefer that you do that in the office.  You can either have a tablet that you have for patients to use while in the chair, with a label on the front with your Facebook location, (you can get really nice ones done at www.skinit.com), or you can simply ask them to do it on their own phone. Half of them will already be on Facebook anyway ;-)

PatientActivator, RevenueWell and all the other apps also survey your patients and elicit reviews from them, usually three days after their visit.  You can post these reviews on Facebook, usually with one click, and if you have a good dynamic website like we build with WebDirector, those reviews can appear automatically in your website, which is good for both SEO and for patients visiting your site.

You can also build in a page where your Yelp reviews appear within your website. That may seem crazy, but you don’t want people leaving your website to go to Yelp, which many of them will do to see what your reviews are. It shows confidence that you are willing to post your unvarnished Yelp reviews right there in your own website, and then they won’t go to Yelp and see adds for 13 other dentists at the same time.

I should also mention that a product like ReputationMonitor allows you to keep close track of everything that is being said about your practice online, and can send you alerts whenever a review is written about you, so you can either thank the patient or fix it, depending on what it says.

You need a pro-active, systematic process for gathering positive reviews on a regular basis. One, because people are definitely reading them more and more for every business and product that they use, and two, because the best strategy to counter negative reviews is an overwhelming number of positive ones.

Make it as easy as possible, and the results will be steady and stellar!

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Should You Advertise on Facebook?

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Even though there are some distinct advantages to Facebook advertising, I would say that for most dental practices, the answer is probably not yet. Marketing is about properly sequencing your efforts, as much as it is about spending wisely. Even if you already do Google Adwords, you would need to alter your strategy and plan if you want to spend money effectively on Facebook.Facebook like button cash

The difference between Google and Facebook advertising

The main, and huge, difference, is that Google ads appear in response to a search, while Facebook ads are presented (pushed, as we say in the ad biz)  to people who fit certain criteria and have recently posted or liked something relevant to your ad.  The second big difference, which relates to the first, is that you can be very specific about who is shown your ad, what their interests are, and even what time of day it displays.

All that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Except very few businesses are raving about their success with Facebook advertising, and even fewer dentists are. My theory is that Facebook users find the ads invasive or invisible. Neither of those are good. It could also be that 50% of Facebook usage happens on smartphones, where ads are really not appreciated. (Okay, Facebook made $5.4 billion last year in ad revenue, so I have to admit it probably works for somebody!)

Also, as with Google, you are paying for clicks, which is a long way from a real patient. So if you are going to test Facebook advertising–and most of you know I believe in having an experimental budget as part of your marketing–then here are the elements you need in place beforehand:

  1. A robust Facebook business page, with lots of likes, check-ins, and posts from patients, and plenty of before-and-after photos, and ideally some videos, most of them testimonials;
  2. A rock-solid,dynamic website like we build you with WebDirector;
  3. A detailed system for tracking results, which starts with entering the source of each new patient into your PMS;
  4. Money to burn; you cannot be upset about this not paying for itself. It’s an experiment.

Why do you need a good website?  Because when they click on your ad, that is where they will be sent by Facebook.  There are different campaigns you can do on Facebook. You can advertise just to build “likes”.  I do not recommend this.  You can promote specific posts that you’ve done. I don’t recommend this either.  You want to promote your practice, which means promoting your website.

If you do decide to try it, go here: Facebook/advertising. You will be led step by step through the process of creating an ad, selecting your audience, and setting up your budget.  I’m going to take you through the process, but more as an overview.

Your Campaign Type. You will choose “website conversions” as the purpose of your campaign, and put in your practice domain name. (You could technically put in your Facebook URL, but those generally are not as comprehensive as your website.)   As part of your setup of your ad campaign, you will be able to add a little marker called a pixel that tells if people went to your website, and if they requested an appointment. (This requires web code–not complicated, but you’re not going to be able to do it yourself.) It’s a nice feature for tracking results.

Create your ad. You should be doing the image of your ad ahead of time, and uploading it. (Try www.canva.com if you’re a real novice at this. I’ll be blogging about that site next week.) You need a good ad message, with an image. Because it’s going to be small, it needs to catch their attention quickly. This is usually some kind of new patient offer.  As a word of warning, don’t use an image that is eye-catching but totally unrelated to dentistry; Facebook often shuts those off.  I’m talking about things like a girl in the tube top that takes you to a car insurance site.  Not that I’ve clicked on that.

Connect your Facebook page. This will let you track exactly where people came from.  It’s mostly if you want to have ads appear in your news feed. That’s not you.  Put in your Facebook page, but you want new patients to see you, so you’re going to “turn off news feed ads”.  If you have a lot of likes on your page, I’m talking hundreds, you can leave that option on so that people can see those next to your ad.  Otherwise unclick it.

Choose your audience. You can limit it to zip codes, and put multiple ones if you so choose.  I wouldn’t restrict gender yet. Age group I would start at 25+.  Pick languages you want. Under “More Demographics” you can get pretty specific about educational level. This will shrink your audience–Facebook is going to show you how many people that will be as you add filters. Under “Interests”, you can add as many as you want.  These are essentially keywords, like dentistry, toothache, whitening, Invisalign, etc. but for now I’d leave that blank for now.  People are only going to click on your ad if they are interested in dentistry, so don’t narrow it too quickly.

Select your budget. This is your daily amount.  You can change it whenever you want.  Under “Bidding”, leave it at “clicks”, not “impressions.”  I wouldn’t test less than $500 in a month. Place your order and see what happens.  I suggest trying it for at least three months.  You can vary your campaigns and test different  audiences, but don’t expect instant results.

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