After years of providing marketing services for dental practices as well as other health care professionals, I have seen quite a few ways that they have been lied to and deceived about what they are getting for the hard-earned cash that they are investing in marketing.
Most dental practices know that some form of marketing and promotion is necessary to be able to fill the schedule and truly be successful, even if only done during slow periods. Most dental and health practices are contacted by a wide array of marketing companies trying to sell them on all manner of marketing ideas – from billboards to yellowpages, postcard mailings, coupon mailings, radio and tv ads, websites, internet advertising and more. Some offer bundles, such as if you advertise in their hardcopy directory, they will also do internet advertising for you, and, and, and…
Since we have tested pretty much every type of marketing a dental practice might do, I can tell you what ones truly give the best return on investment. (This is something I will cover in more detail in another article.) But I can tell you right now that the #1 form of marketing that will get you the best ROI is most definitely through the INTERNET. Though there is a downside.
With the world going more and more internet, including through mobile devices (phones and tablets), your internet presence is most important because when it is done right, it performs head and shoulders above any other form of marketing you can do. If it is NOT performing, it is simply not being done, regardless of what you are being told.
The downside of the internet world is that this is where the greatest rip-off occurs – because it’s not something that is as easily tracked as a postcard, a billboard or a Yellowpages ad.
Here are the most common services where practices get ripped off and lied to:
1. Internet Advertising: only a percentage of what you think you are paying for internet advertising actually goes to Google. This percentage can range anywhere from 80% (unusually high) to as little as 10 or 15%.
For example, if you pay a company for $1000 per month for internet advertising, most likely anywhere from $500 or maybe as much as $900 of that money is going in their pockets and only a percentage gets paid out for the actual advertising on Google and other providers. Most companies will not disclose to you how much that percentage is. And often any numbers they do give are not specific breakdowns. An ad on Google is worth more than an ad on Yahoo. Knowing exactly what you are buying is vital.
2. Package “deals”: Some companies will offer you a package deal of a listing in their hardcopy directory and then also offer online listings, plus internet advertising, plus lead tracking. These can also be deceptive because no breakdown is given of how much of your fee actually pays for internet ads. Another problem can be that the internet advertising goes to some sort of mirrored website for you (so they can track the traffic that they generate for you). The problem is that traffic on your website increases the overall search value of your site- so you end up paying to push lots of traffic to a website that you don’t own. That could be adding to the power and performance of your own website.
3. Cookie-cutter content used in websites and blog posts. When getting a website built or expanded this is deadly. What I mean by this is that the same text used on your website and blog posts has been used on numerous other similar websites – it’s not unique. When this is done it looks like honest good work has been done, but actually it is doing more harm than good as your website will be penalized in its ranking for using copy from other websites. Your website and any blog posts must be unique.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services: Because the work that is done to optimize a website (for improved performance in search engines and better visibility of your website) is technical and generally you have no idea what actual work is being done, very often you can pay thousands of dollars for this service and only get a few hundred dollars worth of actual work done. You have no way of telling really unless you know how to check this.
How to get past the “smoke and mirrors”:
- What you want is full disclosure and transparency. Demand to know upfront what exact percentage of the money you pay for advertising will actually go to Google, or if not Google, which advertiser you are paying for. If they won’t tell you and put it in writing or if this figure is less than 70%, don’t hire them.
- Find out from your marketing company what key search terms they are targeting in the advertising that they are doing for you. Then you can search those key terms to see if your ads show up on the first page. Do any such search in the afternoon or evening as low budget advertising might be running in the morning but will disappear once the daily budget is used up.
- Demand reports of the exact work that has been done each month for SEO services. It takes 10 minutes for them to detail out what unique content was added to your site, what valuable links to your website on other websites have been set up, what unique blog posts were done, etc. These can all be checked to see if the reporting is true.
- Don’t let advertisers speak to you in terms you can’t understand. A true professional can explain things to you in a way that you can understand, and would do so out of courtesy. If you are getting a lot of technical babble – realize that someone is hiding behind a smoke-screen of “this is too technical for you to understand” – and take it as a red flag that you are likely being ripped off.
- Periodically check your website in the search engines by searching key terms for your practice to see where your website comes up. Make sure to use a different browser than you normally use as likely you have logged on to your website from your normal browser and your browser will not show give you the same results that everyone else sees. If you use Chrome, then look it up in Firefox or Safari, etc.
Marketing dollars can build your practice up or drain it down. We offer free website analysis and internet advertising reviews. If you are concerned that your advertising dollars have not bought you what you were promised, I strongly recommend getting a free review as a second opinion. We will provide you with an unbiased report with specific issues that you can see yourself.
Call us: 210-601-1050