“Social Media isn’t inexpensive, it’s different expensive.”
Jay Baer said that. And what he’s talking about is important…no, vital – especially as you’re taking-the-leap into social media!
First, don’t pull-the-plug on social media or start making cuts to your marketing budget so you can plug it into your dental marketing efforts. Baer isn’t talking cash-flow.
He’s focused on something we all have the same amount of but use so ineffectively – time!
Social media takes time.
To establish a reputation on the social web involves daily participation. Content creation, engagement, customer service – however you use social media – it ALL takes time!
Jay Baer explores the time investment more thoroughly here. Let’s take a look at his two insights (options) from the article and apply them to your dental business. Understand these as you launch a social media presence or reengage the one you’ve already begun (but are finding time consuming).
“Social Media Time Management”
Consider all the time-consuming tasks you do everyday. Sending and receiving email, returning phone calls…oh, and interacting with (hopefully) a steady stream of dental business clients or dental patients – depending on your niche. And if you’re planning to get the most mileage out of your social media presence you’ll need to do a serious time inventory.
“You need to do whatever you can to tie behavior and time utilization to business results. Then, you need to jettison what you’re doing that isn’t a clear net positive, and use that new found time vacuum to fit in daily social media participation.”
Many of your social media tasks should bear your unique voice. As Baer says, “…it’s difficult to outsource your voice.”
Keep a grip on your social media efforts. But not such a tight hold that you control too much of it and thus lose control of your valuable time.
Use these social-media-time-saving hints:
>Create a content calendar with topics of interest to your dental patients, upcoming promotions, the latest dental industry news of interest, etc.
>Outsource the research and content creation. Think written as well as video and photo content too. Broaden your social media scope to include the various outsourceable help-points you have available to you.
>Keep a greenhouse of content growing. Keep blog post, tweet, and article ideas in the soil. Water them occasionally with new thoughts. When you need content it’s there and ready to go! (Evernote is a superb “greenhouse” for content and idea “growing”. Check it out!)
Social media works! But you must invest valuable time and use the tools available to help you get the most mileage for your dental marketing purposes.
“Nobody said social media was both transformative AND a slam dunk! It’s hard. Really hard. So you either need to make the time internally, get more people involved, or stay on the sidelines.”
[Portions of this article - written by me - first appeared on the Dentoola Blog-01.11.2011]
Dental industry businesses and service providers that “get” social media will move ahead of the crowd. What’s a good first step?
Choices vary these days from Twitter, to Facebook, to LinkedIn, to Google+, YouTube and more. Try one or even better test-drive all. And while you’re at it remember a foundational essential – the blog!
“…blogging is an essential ingredient to any social media strategy.”
Amy Porterfield blogged that while confessing the common uncertainty of what to write about, when to post, how to grow subscribers, and how to keep them coming back for more. “If you’ve had any of these concerns you’re not alone!”
The dental industry as a whole can benefit from the social media marketing boom. And many are getting ahead as we speak!
Blogging is an essential entry-point strategy to get the wheels moving forward.
Let’s start with some blog basics.
1-Keep it simple
A blog isn’t a novel. There’s no real pressure to create a plot, back-story, or drama. It’s simply a place to engage, inform, and inspire (more on those in a moment).
Blog about your dental industry expertise. But don’t overwhelm your reader/subscriber with industry-speak. Remember the point is to engage (make friends) not impress or worse, alienate.
Start simple with your dental blog. Give readers and subscribers something to use. What do you know about them?
> Make a list of topics. What are your clients or patients concerned about? Read other industry blogs. Get a Twitter account and scan your niche’s trending topics (look for “#” – the hashtag). Then…write simple how-to tips and post on your dental blog!
> Create an editorial calendar and regularly add ideas to it so you’re never without a seed thought or two to develop.
> Contract a blog writer. Many copywriters specialize in online writing. They know how to write compelling blog copy and load it with SEO friendly keywords (tags).
2-Keep it conversational.
Write (blog) like you would talk to a friend over drinks or dinner.
You lose and readers lose when you speak a language they don’t speak. Sure, you know your industry and the terminology like the back-of-your-hand. Just remember to keep it out-of-the-clouds and not so “lofty.”
Use your blog to engage them in not only practical knowledge but give them a place to interact with your expertise via questions and comments. A blog gives them access to your knowledge-base 24/7.
Ongoing conversations about dental trends, orthodontic supplies, CE options, practice management and consulting services, etc. builds trust that you can take to the bank! A blog spotlights your well-earned professional knowledge, skills, and services in a most engaging way.
3-Keep it civil.
Sometimes you’re tempted to use your blog to rant. Should you?
There’s some buzz about social responsibility and online content. Keep in mind that what’s said online…stays online! Take-backs may work in face-to-face conversations or print media. But online…not so much! That should determine if (perhaps the best practice), when, and how you choose to rant via your dental blog content.
Inform. Inspire. Compel…but do so responsibly!
Deliver useful, practical, actionable content on your blog. Readers will come back for more…and tell others to do the same.
Blogging is an A-level strategy for taking the leap into social media marketing. And it flows very effectively into how you can use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
I wrote a recent blog post around a now favorite quote by copywriting and marketing legend, Dan Kennedy.
“The ability to organize words that motivate people to buy is a super-power.”
Written communication has the moxie to change things. If you want to win-the-day with any topic, trend, thought, service or product transform them with super-poweredness (how’s that for a cool, new word).
I’m a copywriter (and an occasional public speaker/trainer) so you’d expect me to enter the fray with words. It’s why you hire or outsource your marketing content (word-wise) to those of us with the chops to bring just-the-right words to the front-lines of whatever it is you’re promoting.
Take oral cancer prevention for instance (and take it seriously!).
I picked up an eye-catching…informative data sheet from the front office of the dental practice where I work part-time – “Common Myths About Oral Cancer.” It used the common Myth-vs-Fact approach to heighten awareness of this life-threatening issue.
The more I’ve reflected on the “Facts” the more I believe that super-powered content can shift the battle against this killer that takes 9,000 lives annually out of the 34,000 impacted by it (more deaths per year, by the way, than melanoma and cervical cancer).
The super-power ability in me (thanks to Dan Kennedy) wants to go all Captain America on this health threat.
Words motivate! And there are strategic ways to organize them to compel people to have awareness and take action against something as serious as oral cancer – or whatever you’re promoting.
Someone has taken on oral cancer and won! Perhaps the tipping-point was an oral cancer screening product used by a savvy dental practice. Maybe a hygienist’s knowledge gained via a particular continuing education course trained her in what to look for. Could be that a practice management firm with a strong bent towards oral cancer steered their practices in the right direction towards state-of-the-art screening technologies.
A well-researched, compellingly written case study tells THAT story. And what better story than a life spared.
>A White paper or Special report
Sometimes the mountain of data must be distilled to its essence. Too much technical jargon numbs your readers or market to the real-life impact of something as threatening, in this instance, as oral cancer.
A white paper or a special report cuts-to-the-chase.
Their unique format states the problem and offers an expert solution (that’s you and your product, service, or information). These also communicate well to an audience that is typically accustomed to a more academic, technical approach. And they do it without the – sometimes necessary – word volume associated with standard technical writing.
>Social Media (didn’t think I’d leave it out did you?)
Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Google+, YouTube, QR Coding, etc. provide a steady-stream opportunity to become a content super-power. Link back to big-gun content like case studies, white papers, special reports, web content, blog posts, etc.
Social media provides the opportunity to get chatty and occasionally frontal about the topic at hand.
Engaging dental social media builds trust. And dental businesses and dental service providers on the front-lines of social media will increasingly be viewed as industry experts.
That’s the big idea, really. Whether you’re talking about oral cancer or promoting dental products and services that offer preventative solutions – you want an “expert” in your corner…right?
Even better…how about some super-poweredness?
You receive a marketing piece via mail…and Wow! Or you log onto a website and the embedded flash reminds you of a Vegas show. My first, fleeting thought is – “Someone dropped some cash on that…!”
Hold that thought…because there’s a deeper question that begs answering. And it’s a question that the ever-changing marketing landscape asks with the persistence of a 5 year old on a vacation road-trip – “Are we there yet…Are we there yet…!”
Here’s the question: “Would I do business with them because the promotion was pure eye-candy or because it engaged me?”
Engagement matters! And that’s why social media rocks the establishment today and will continue doing so.
It’s creating entirely fresh ways of measuring whether your dental marketing and dental copywriting is hitting its intended target. And it further challenges you to be all the more intentional with your marketing.
Marketing content that’s attractive and marketing content that attracts are two different things.
These 5 questions from an article on eMarketer.com provide an important measure for creating marketing content that attracts (not just attractive content):
1—“Is the content unique?”
Don’t confuse “unique” with out-of-the-box! Be unique by highlighting the deeper benefits of your dental services more than your competitors do. Remember many companies are content to stick with the surface, feature-fluff while ignoring the real solutions their products and services deliver.
Answer the question – what makes us uniquely capable of meeting that client’s need? Steer your content in that direction.
2—“Is the content useful?”
Make your marketing message actionable. When a prospective dental industry client reads one of your Twitter or Facebook feeds are they persuaded to take action? That action could be as simple as clicking a link to a blog post or taking advantage of your clearly stated promotion by surfing over to your website.
Ask them to do something through actionable content. “Useful” content addresses your prospect’s needs…desires…lifestyle. For example, your ad for an orthodontic product or service should tap into their emotions more than it spotlights the latest…greatest technology!
Measure by usefulness!
3—“Is the content well-executed?”
Twitter works as social media platform mainly because of its 140 character limit. It forces tight, sharp, to-the-point content. Say what you will about our culture of social media sound-bytes – it’s actually helping us cut through the clutter and just say it!
What’s the message of the moment for your dental business? Social media helps you say it clearly.
4—“Is the content fun?”
Twitter earned a shout-out in the previous point. Facebook gets its turn in the spotlight now. As a social media platform, a Facebook page helps keep content fun. Photos and comments from a company gathering, an outing, or a client success story keep the fun-factor alive. And don’t forget the “places” feature. It adds value if you’re a location based business such as a dental practice.
The new Facebook video chat feature rolling out as we speak will add another layer of connective-engagement. Go face to face via the Skype-based tool with a potential or current client states or a continent away!
Make sure your content puts a smile on the faces of those you do business with. It’s contagious!
5—“Does the content make good use of the channel in which it appears (e.g., social, mobile, video)?”
Again, this is about “execution.”. It’s vital to fully maximize your marketing “channels.” And knowing which to use is as important as how they’re used.
Begin now to run all your marketing content – especially social media – through this 5-Question Filter.
Some post-Independence Day reflection has me thinking about the value of the holiday – given what it represents.
We celebrate with fireworks, grilling some form of meat, sipping a cold beverage, hanging-out with friends and family. And we remember – at the “twilight’s last gleaming”…as a celebratory burst of fireworks explodes overhead – to reflect on what it means to be American.
Think about it – you and I have freedom. The undeniable freedom to live, earn, and prosper in this great country!
Declare Your Independence
In the dental business, as in any business, true freedom is knowing what makes your products/services unique. Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) gives you the confidence to stand independently among your competition.
How uniquely independent is the copywriting that promotes your dental services and products? Have you established your independence in the dental industry marketplace with outstanding copywriting?
3 Steps to Declaring Your Independence from Your Competitors
In the spirit of independence and all things freedom, consider your dental business growth in the first half of this year. It is, after all, July. You’re halfway through the calendar and either celebrating the profits to date or evaluating how you can emerge profitable at the end of the two remaining quarters come December.
Before you think “Jingle Bells” and mistletoe (that’ll be here soon enough) let’s do some mid-year evaluation of your marketing resources in the shadow of the the recent July 4th holiday and the ole’ “red, white, & blue.”
Exercise some freedom of thought by applying the following steps to your marketing content.
Read…Write &…Renew… (think red, white, & blue)
Reading your dental marketing copy with fresh eyes could be the key to increasing your second-half profits. Begin to read your promotions with a more critical eye.
Start right now! Pull up your current promotion. Scroll over to your website. Check out your latest blog post, tweet on Twitter, or Facebook page post.
Does each uniquely declare your dental market independence? Do the words suggest that you’re offering something different than every other solution currently available?
Often a business relies on outdated, over-done, over-written copy and expects it to work its magic on prospects and clients. Is it?
Eye the promotions that arrive in your email in-box and your postal mail. Which ones get your attention? What is it about the content that draws you in, inviting you to read further?
Compare it to your A-Level marketing piece. Differences?
The keywords and concepts you glean from the vast amount of copywriting you receive via postal mail and email might be good-as-gold to your business.
It’s been my practice to read a market proven promotion such as a direct-mail or online sales letter (I’ve got files and book full of them). Typically I’ll read the same one over and over again for a period of days during a given week. Then I’ll hand write a large portion of the copy word for word on a blank sheet of paper.
This discipline – rote as it may seem – ingrains key concepts and copywriting strategies in my mind (like hitting golf balls on the range…taking batting practice…shooting free-throw after free-throw). Perhaps you’re thinking that’s too much work (but remember this is my chosen field).
The principle holds – establish your dental market uniqueness and independence by schooling yourself in what’s working (and not working) in your industry niche. It serves the process to *write* down what you like about the copy, keywords, how they’re used, etc.
Halfway through the year is a great time to renew your dental marketing resources. What profits are you leaving-off-the-table as result of ineffective promotions?
Test a new sales letter, a fresh product case study, an email promotion, your web page copy, etc. against your current ones. You’ll never know if what you’ve been mailing, sending-out, or posting on your website could be improved until you test it. When sales increase (or decrease) you’ll know your renewal efforts and/or costs were or will be worth it.
Apply these simple steps to your business promotions. Declare your independence from your competitors.
That’s the kind of freedom you can take-to-the-bank.
As I write this post the Fourth of July holiday weekend is approaching. Soon, the familiar and annual sound of fireworks exploding overhead will symbolize how we Americans celebrate our freedom. And of course another sound will arise from BBQ grills across our grand land – the *sizzle* of hot dogs, burgers and steaks (hey…there’s always a reason to grill something during the summer season).
Referencing the word, “sizzle,” reminds me of the classic advertising line from the pioneer of persuasion, Elmer Wheeler. I discovered some marketing principles in an article highlighting his now classic book, Tested Sentences That Sell.
In fact, I’ll use his now infamous marketing phrase to lead off a list of 5 Keys to Enhancing Your Dental Sales and Marketing Copy.
*Don’t sell the steak – sell the sizzle*
First things first. Effective copywriting sells benefits and deeper benefits. Life is too short to waste yours or your prospect’s time talking…talking…talking about the product.
*Don’t write – telegraph!*
In Wheeler’s day, telegraphs were all-the-rage for sending messages. Being charged by the word meant keeping the price down by choosing your words wisely.
Saying, “Don’t write – telegraph,” Wheeler implied, “Make every word count.” He would say, “…your first 10 words are more important than the next 10,000…” and “…you have only 10 short seconds to catch your prospect’s attention.”
*Say it with flowers*
In other words, it’s not enough to make a statement about your dental business, dental products, or dental services to your prospect. You have to prove it! Say, “I love you,” and then prove it…by sending flowers (sincerely and convincingly, of course).
*Don’t ask if – ask which*
Always give your prospect a choice between something and something. Never go with a choice between something and nothing. “Would you like fries with that…?” (Something and nothing). “Large or small fries with that…?” (Something and something).
*Watch your bark!*
Wheeler had a love of dogs. He knew you could tell how a dog feels at a given moment by the way they wag their tails and by the sound of their barks.
Saying, “Watch your bark!” Wheeler’s reminding that it’s not just what you say but…how you say it. When writing promotions keep the copy conversational and engaging.
Elmer Wheeler kept is simple and to the point. He knew what we all must come to understand – there’s freedom in simplicity (or something like that).
In my mid teen years my Dad bought an older house to salvage the lumber, brick, and stone for use to remodel our new home addition. I remember, as we speak, pulling what seemed like millions of nails from the lumber that would be re-nailed into flooring, wall studs, etc. in our new house.
The occasional reflection reveals not only my dad’s innate resourcefulness but also his wisdom. Nothing against buying or selling new. But sometimes the ever-popular and now trendy vintage approach works too!
From jeans to cars to jewelry and (in our case) home building/remodeling – vintage is cool! And the cooler thing about vintage: something always will be (think about it).
My dad’s vintage-housebuilding-resourcefulness got me to thinking about copywriting and marketing content. There could be vintage value going unused in your dental product and dental service promotions.
Here’s a few how-to insights to recover and reuse some of your dental copywriting and dental marketing content:
>Deconstruct your testimonials.
Survey quotes and satisfied customer/patient testimonials work.They’re a way for prospects, leads, and potential clients to “kick-the-tires” – so to speak- without a commitment.
Try deconstructing a few of your recent, best testimonials and reconstruct them as a case study. A case study takes the client’s experience up-a-notch by showing how your product/service solved a problem.
Julie Borgini, a copywriting colleague in the software and high-tech industry says, “Case studies are short articles that describe how companies solved a challenge with a product or service. It’s a simple and effective way to talk about your company and its services, and how they apply in a concrete way to potential clients. Think of them as a before & after picture of a situation your company faced.”
>Recycle blog content.
If you blog about your services (and I highly recommend you do) you’re sitting on a gold-mine of recycle-able content. A simple blog post can be re-purposed as an e-newsletter article, one among several chapters in a special-report you offer free to your client list, or social media posts you link back to via Twitter or your Facebook page.
>Renew web page content.
Your existing web pages may need the demolition crew…but maybe not! Consider a site-audit first!
A website audit can determine if your keywords and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) are up to speed. You’re leaving profit on-the-table if you built a website with the latest flash technology and graphics thinking that’s the answer to increasing site traffic.
You’ll be amazed at the simple tweaks a site audit will provide. And once those few edits are implemented you’ll be equally astounded at the increase in traffic and Google ranking potential.
Sometimes a little sweat-equity uncovers some still usable resources.
And another thing…the older I get the wiser my Dad becomes. Thanks Dad for a memory and lesson I’m bound to get more mileage from.
“All businesses are being forced to go social.” That’s according to Michael Brito.
Maybe you’ve been waiting to see if all the buzz about having a blog, a Facebook page or a Twitter account is just another passing trend. Delaying or avoiding social media altogether may have been the general mindset a few months ago but no longer.
And while the talk (for businesses) about social media engagement surrounds marketing, it’s important to know there’s more to it.
Brito says that most brands get it. And he observes that most brands are doing a really good job listening to their customers through social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc.).
So, being a copywriter in the dental industry and one who happens to be a social media convert and consultant I must ask – why wait to dive into social media? Or, if you’ve been dabbling, why not ratchet it up?
3 ways to ratchet-up your mindset and use of social media as a dental industry business:
1) Join the “evolution.”
The days of solely marketing your products and services via direct mail (I said solely so), a competitive postcard mailer, a Yellow Pages ad, and if budgets allow, a radio or TV spot are diminishing. Why would you exclusively limit yourself to these marketing approaches?
Use them. But consider how much more effective and inexpensive (in many cases free) it is to engage your clientele through social media. After all, they’re using it. And could be wondering about your absence.
Brito says, “…organizations are evolving from businesses that merely engage in social behavior into social businesses. There’s a huge difference.”
2) Maximize the “social pillars.”
“Social business is built on three pillars – people, governance, and technology,” according to Brito. And the principles apply to any size organization.
Social media helps eliminate barriers. It especially deals with how we communicate our opinions and feelings about brands.
Imagine how your product and service equity will increase when clients communicate their satisfaction via social media. And they can do it in-the-moment…in real-time! Think less survey forms or ad naseum “how-did-we-do-today?” questions upon check-out.
Equally social businesses are held accountable for their quality (or lack of it) too. You don’t want a viral surge of negative influence about how your company or practice dropped the ball when it came to customer service, etc.
The technology is there and improving as we speak. Already, businesses are seeing the value of QR coding (more on that in future posts), location based social media tools like Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook places, etc.
You can virtually run your marketing from a single laptop or even a smartphone (remotely). And monitor the feedback instantly.
3) Welcome the conversation.
A 2009 study revealed that 85% of Americans using social media think companies should have an active presence in the social media universe.
And according to Brito, “Out of the 85% of people who want companies to be present in social media (get this):
>34% want companies to actively interact with them
>51% want companies to interact with them as needed or by request
>8% think companies should only be passively involved on social media
>7% think companies should not be involved at all.”
No more waffling or dabbling! Social media is here and your prospects and clientele are ready to keep the conversation going.
Trust and authenticity are the currency of social media. And your Facebook page alongside your Twitter account and blog are the places where you should lavishly spread that currency around.
I emphasized trust and authenticity in a recent post because people are now so oriented to interacting with dental companies, dental practices, and dental supply brands who seem at least somewhat familiar with social media. And once you’ve caught on to the value of social media engagement your perspective and marketing approaches shift.
- There’s a more frontal…give-it-to-me-straight marketing interaction (in contrast to the old-school, bait and switch).
- There’s freedom to be yourself without the flash (in contrast to slick, hype-y…expensive marketing – think jeans and maybe a sports coat instead of suit and tie).
- There’s conversation around products, services, and expertise (in contrast to if-we-build-it-they-will-come).
I think of the days of mom & pop shops. Social media is restoring confidence to business and service providers who have that grass-roots brand of marketing DNA.
Coaching a grass-roots confidence is the responsibility all who are coming into their own with social media marketing.
I once felt like a rookie in the big-leagues when I first opened my Twitter account. I resisted for months as early as 2008.
I’ve had my social media ups and downs. Some days I feel like a shivering chihuahua alongside the social media big dogs.
And sometimes I write and publish on my blog like I think a big-dog would. In fact, I’m still nursing a fresh wound because I forgot what this whole social media deal looks like to someone who doesn’t engage in it (not because they’re opposed…it just isn’t something they’re into…like many marketers, still).
I’m reminded that when I speak and write about the failures of traditional marketing with my new social-media-is-all-about-trust-and-authenticity-chip-on-my-shoulder, I risk alienating those I’m still invested in.
So…here’s how to boost your social media confidence when wanna-be big-dogs (like me) mess on the lawn (or seem to be growling at those who aren’t so much into social media):
1) It’s about being yourself.
You and your business, product, service have a story to tell. Engage (that’s “talk” in social media) about the problems you’re solving, the solutions you’re delivering, the benefits you’re bringing to the marketplace. No one else can be you better than…well, you!And once you stop being “you” – it really doesn’t matter!
2) It’s about keeping it simple.
Really, what’s the point in being complicated. Life’s complicated enough and so is business.
To-the-point simplicity is a big adjustment for those new to social media. The full-frontalness of the dialogue (on a blog or via Twitter and a Facebook page) can be misunderstood as edgy or in some instances, even trite.
Hey, when Twitter allows you only 140 characters you can’t dilly-dally (a word I’d probably not use in mainstream marketing). That’s a steep learning curve for those accustomed to traditional marketing approaches.
3) It’s about creating conversation.
Once you’re around social media long enough you’ll learn that appetizing conversations begun on your Twitter or Facebook page feed should effectively transition to your website or blog via links (ow.ly, bit.ly, etc.).
Think of social media conversations (even those involving your business, products, services) like you would saying to dinner guests following a meal, “Let’s move to the patio…can I get you another drink…” There’s no hype among friends – just swapping stories in good conversation.
…and now where’s the dip for that chip-on-my-shoulder I mentioned?