Written by Debra Lee Engelhardt-Nash, AA, BFA, and Richard Train
The Internet seems like an obvious place for anyone with a unique product or strategy to sell to the general consumer. The success of companies like eBay and Amazon are obvious examples of that statement. However, service businesses (like dentistry) do not seem to have it that easy. Making a sale online is extremely difficult for a service business because of the constantly changing variables that affect each sale.
Some of these variables include the facts that the viewer might not be seeing your information during normal business hours or may not understand the nuances of the needed service. That need for a clear exchange of information along with a touch of salesmanship is a key reason that dental Web sites tend to fall into 2 basic categories:
1. A successful information provider to help existing and potential patients better understand you and your services.
2. A high-priced business card that may not do much more than look pretty.
The world we live in today demands a certain amount of marketing beyond “word of mouth” to continue to attract and retain patients and maintain continual new patient flow.
There are many anecdotal success stories of online triumph within dentistry, but this success also comes with a price. Marketing, like anything else in business, requires a plan, commitment of resources, time, and consistency of your message. Social media is the newest enigma in that online marketing puzzle that can prove to be elusive. Many doctors seem to understand the concept of social media and that it can be a powerful referral source, but even more dentists have a hard time with it. It is still very new to many dentists and getting a true grasp on its possibilities can be difficult.