Five Ways News Releases Help Your Dental Practice

News releases help your dental practice in five major ways:

  1. News releases are a great way to boost your website search engine optimization (SEO). When a news release is published nationwide through a news distribution service, it will likely appear on the websites of various newspapers and television stations.  Your practice website URL is included as a link in the release, so you will have what are called “backlinks” to your website on those media sites.  Backlinks are very valuable for SEO because if your website is important enough to be included as a link on another website, then Google will rank your website higher for search purposes.   It does not matter if your release appears on a news website in another state.  It is true that if you are in Chicago you will not get patients from a local television news station’s website in Dallas, but Google is still likely to reward you for the link with a higher search engine ranking.
  2. The release may be picked up by your local media. It’s not a given, because competition for news release placement is strong, but a media outlet in your area could either choose to publish the release on its website or—best case scenario—contact you for an interview.  While you cannot expect your release to appear on page one of your local newspaper, the goal is to have it published on many media websites, and your local media outlets are logical targets.
  3. A professionally done release looks impressive. The release can be printed in PDF format.  You can frame it and put it on a wall, include it in patient information packets, or pass it out at health fairs.  Specialists can distribute the release to referring dentists.  You should also, of course, publish the electronic version on your own website.
  4. News releases have “legs,” which means that releases show up in Internet searches for a considerable period of time. I have written news releases for doctors and found them by doing a Google search for the doctor’s name eighteen months after distribution.  The more hits for your name or your practice’s name on Google, the better.  In addition, it is impressive when someone finds a news release about you on the Internet, because it makes you look important and newsworthy.
  5. The news release is searchable content on the Internet. If you practice in Nashville and the release is about your work with dental implants, for example, then someone may find your name because they are searching for “dental implants Nashville.”  The release pops up on a media website, you are positioned as the expert, and the release has a link to your practice website.

Opportunities for news release content abound.

You may have great material for news releases if:

  • You have won an award or received other recognition.
  • A new doctor has joined the practice.
  • You have opened or renovated a dental office.
  • You have lectured at a major dental meeting.
  • You have introduced a new treatment modality into your practice.
  • You are the first or only doctor in your area to incorporate certain equipment or modalities into your practice.
  • You have published an article in a scientific journal and you want to share the information with the public in laymen’s terms.

Writing and publishing news releases will require a degree of experience and expertise.  If you have an idea for a release or questions about the process and would like some guidance, please contact me.  Sending out a news release is a straightforward project that requires very little of the doctor’s time and has the potential to significantly benefit the practice.

How Blog and Social Media Content Boost SEO (Part 1)

Social media and blogs significantly help SEO.  A website that looks great but ranks on page two is akin to being exiled to Siberia; anything lower than page two and you might as well advertise your practice on Neptune.  So how to you get to and stay on page one of Google?

To keep up your rankings, you need to post a regular blog and then push that same content out to your social media accounts.

What is a blog?

The term “blog” is an amalgamation of two words: web and log.  Blog is an unfortunate term because it sounds like a Soviet housing project.  Linguistic prejudice aside, I can define a blog as an article written to inform.  Think of a regular newspaper column on sports or politics.  On the Internet, the columnist would be called a “blogger.”   Use your blog to as your personal column in your own publication (your website) to tell people what you do and invite them to come to your office so you can solve their dental problems.

How long is a blog?

Unlike newspaper columns that have rigid length requirements due to space considerations, a blog can be almost any length. However, Google wants blogs to be at least 300 words in length, because Google does not want to reward frequently blogging with higher search engine rankings if a blog is only one sentence long.  Some “long form” blogs are thousands of words in length and they can greatly help SEO, but those types of blogs will be discussed at another time.  For now, think 300 words.

What does the blog live?

The blog should be visible or at least accessible on your website.  It’s a simple matter for your webmaster to install a button that people can click to access your blog.   Blog hosting can be handled in many different ways.  Many blogs are hosted by WordPress, a service that makes posting very easy.  In fact, if you can copy and paste text in Microsoft Word, then you can figure out how to copy your article into WordPress to create a blog.

How does a blog help SEO?

Two ways.  First, by posting regularly (once a week or at least several times per month), you continually add new content to your website and that helps SEO.  Second, you can push the blog out to your social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter.  When someone clicks on the headline content on Facebook, for example, the entire blog opens.  If everything has been set up properly, the reader is actually now on your website, which of course means one more click.  Google gives you credit for lots of clicks because Google thinks your website must be important if it is drawing many visitors.

How do I find the time to write a blog?

Writing a blog can be time consuming.  Web developers are continually asking doctors for content, and doctors always say that they do not have time.  I have developed a blog and social media creation service.  I write all the content for an entire year based on a phone interview with the doctor and staff.  When this customized content is “in the bank,” so to speak, it is easy to grab a new ready-to-go blog each week and post it.  Problem solved.

If you prefer to write blogs yourself, I will discuss the elements of a good blog and give you tips in my next posting, Part 2.


Magnetic Dental Marketing to Attract New Patients

Magnetic dental marketing is all about attracting new patients.  You have walking billboards that frequently attract interest—your team.  Individuals who work in dental offices can turn inquiries into dental patients very easily by following some simple steps.

  1. When team members leave the office wearing clothing with the practice name and logo, they frequently attract attention.  “Where do you work?”  “Oh, is that a dental office?”  “I’ve heard of that dentist.”  These are questions people ask when they see a doctor’s name emblazoned on a shirt.
  2. If the person wants to end the conversation at that point, then that is their choice; but if the discussion goes further, then talk up the practice by giving your 15-second practice summary. Click here for my podcast on that topic.
  3. Offer the person who asked the question a business card and answer the questions that are posed.
  4. Ask them open questions to determine if they need a dentist. Many people will ask for advice about a dental problem and are eager to hear what you have to say.  If they need more information or you think could benefit from seeing the doctor, proceed to the next step.
  5. Ask for their business card. If they have one, that’s great; if not, give them another one of your cards and use this script:  “Please write your name and contact information on the back of this card.  If you like, I will have our office manager contact you to answer questions and help you make an appointment.”
  6. Tell the prospective patient that, if they prefer, they should call the office to make an appointment. Here’s the script:  “Call the office and mention my name.  Say that I said to get give you priority and get you in as soon as possible.”   Now the new patient has clout.  The patient can call the office and use your name to get special consideration.   You are using magnetic dental marketing to encourage someone to call the office.
  7. Make sure that everyone who answers the phone in the office knows that a team member has made a contact. The script is as follows:  “Yesterday I met a woman named Jane while I was out shopping.  If she calls, say that you have been expecting her call and that you will give her priority scheduling because she knows me.”

Note how each step makes the person feel important and enhances the likelihood that the person will call the office.  This is magnetic dental marketing.  Attracting new patients is all about seizing opportunities, making people feel special, and seeing the process through to the happy conclusion–a new patient on the books.


Dental Marketing: The Patient’s Point of View

Have you heard of “the curse of knowledge?” If an astrophysicist tries to help a high school student with his Algebra I homework, the supremely educated adult may not understand why the student just does not get it. Part of the answer is that the astrophysicist knows too much—that which is obvious to the scientist may leave the student oblivious.

Micah Soloman has an interesting article in Forbes on the curse of knowledgeMr. Soloman writes:

“In healthcare, where the stakes are extremely high, the patient experience and patient satisfaction often suffer from devastating manifestations of the curse of knowledge.  It can lead healthcare workers to deal poorly with the distress experienced–because they’ve seen a similar non-life threatening situation (say, a broken ankle) so many times before and it always turned out all right that they discount the pain and fear experienced by someone for whom this is happening now.

A similar scenario plays out in dental offices every day. A patient is scheduled in an endodontist’s office for root canal therapy. Let’s say that the patient has been told by his brother-in-law that root canals are very painful. The brother-in-law is seldom right but never in doubt, even though he has never personally had this procedure.

Based on modern misconceptions of root canal therapy and comments from his uninformed brother-in-law, the patient is very nervous upon arrival at the office. To allay the patient’s fears, team members in the endodontist’s office may simply say, “Everything is going to be fine.” This message is part of their mantra because every day patients show up afraid and leave saying that they cannot believe the root canal was so easy. This message, though meant to be helpful, may not be Continue reading Dental Marketing: The Patient’s Point of View

Marketing Dental Implants: New Teeth or New Car

Dental practices often use car analogies when talking to patients about fees for dental implants. A typical response to a patient who recoils at the fee for dental implant treatment goes something like this: Think about what it costs to buy a new car. Dental implant treatment lasts longer so it’s a better value. This message is good but it needs to be much more specific and cogent to be an effective way tool for marketing dental implants.

I believe that car analogies should only be used in certain situations. If the patient has been fully educated about the benefits of dental treatment, including quality of life benefits, and still has a hard time accepting the fee, then a skilled treatment coordinator can talk about the relative value of optimal oral health versus a new car.

The problem is that most patients are unprepared for a large dental fee. The average person may assume that a visit to the dentist for an exam, cleaning and x-rays will be in three figures. Patients also often know ahead of time that treatment for something more extensive such as periodontal disease or the fabrication and placement of one or more crowns will be in four figures. Few patients, however, are ready at the outset to come to terms with a five-figure dental fee.

Once the patient has heard the fee and is wrestling with the cost/benefit analysis, then you can talk about cars. Here is a great message for patients:

The average person in the U.S. buys a new car every six years. The average price of a new car is about $33,500. If we add an inflation factor and subtract trade-in value, the average person will pay over $100,000 for four automobiles over an 18-year period. Dental implant treatment typically lasts for decades. In fact, with proper professional maintenance and home care, many people have dental implant treatment done once and it lasts a lifetime. The bottom line is that dental implant treatment improves the quality of your life and over many years it is an exceptional value for the dollar.

Patients who have dental implant treatment often say that it was money well spent and they wish they had had the treatment sooner. Prior to dental implant treatment, however, it is often necessary to talk about value, and the car analogy has its place in marketing dental implants when explained properly.

David Schwab Ph.D.

A Name for Dental Marketing

As one who is on the telephone with dental practices every day to evaluate their dental marketing, I take the pulse of practices and find out how they are answering the phone. Here are the results of my informal, non-scientific survey of dental practices.

About 75% of practices have someone answer the phone by giving her name as part of the greeting. (I am using “her” to mean “his or her” but most phone answerers in dental offices—but by no means all—are female). The other 25% omit a name in their standard phone answering script.

What are the 25% thinking? Some of these offices claim to offer “personal service,” and on their websites they use words such as “caring” or “friendly”; but every day they answer the phone without revealing the phone answerer’s identity. Are the people at the front desk in the Witness Protection Program?

Alas, the explanation for this curious lack of dental marketing is more mundane. The problem is either that a) no one taught the phone answerer how to answer the phone, or b) no one is supervising this function.

Lack of training results from an assumption: “Everyone knows how to answer a phone politely.” However, there is a difference between being polite, attentive, and even chirpy on the phone and making sure that good dental marketing techniques are used consistently. When even the most helpful person remains incognito, the practice loses an opportunity to connect with the caller.

Even when people are taught exactly how to answer a phone—and given a script to read—problems arise when there is no reinforcement or accountability. People fall into patterns and habits, and phone answering is a mantra that becomes fixed very easily.

Kudos to the practices that always provide a name as part of the greeting. For those who have forgotten this important lesson in dental marketing, it’s an easy fix that will help the practice be perceived as one that puts an emphasis on personal relationships.

David Schwab