Dentist Marketing Tools: Groupon vs Facebook vs Twitter vs Blogging

When you’re looking for ways to market your dental practice, you probably turn to new trends that appear to be working, ie: Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, and blogs, for example. The problem is, many small business owners – dentists included – are quick to try marketing strategies before knowing if they will produce more business and profits.

In our age of technology and communication, marketing and business move at the speed of light. It’s easy to jump onto Facebook and build a free business page; or to set up a blog and make your initial post… Hello World! But what then? What’s your next move?

In marketing, business owners should think past the immediate need for more business and look toward the result that will happen a few months, or even a year, down the road. Don’t bank on a get rich quick strategy; 99.9% of the time, they fail. Instead, plan, plan, plan, execute and work at it, then measure the results so that you can overcome stumbling blocks for the next go-round. Let’s analyze the four examples above:

Concept Initial Investment Execution and Work Result Common Problems
Facebook Build a free page You should promote your Facebook username in your office, on your website, and in your print ads. Also, you need to post to your business page daily and – this is important – engage with your fans through discussion. More fans, which might translate into new patients; Low return on time investment in most cases. Lack of knowledge about how to use Facebook; lack of time to invest in online networking.
Twitter Set up a free profile Like Facebook, promote your Twitter profile in your office, on your website, and in your print ads. Keep your smart phone at hand at all times, and post updates many times a day. Also, interact with followers through conversations. More followers, which might translate into new patients; Low return on time investment in most cases. Lack of knowledge about how to use Facebook; lack of time to invest in online networking.
Groupon Purchase a plan; create your deal. Plan your deal strategically so that it A) goes out at the right time, B) targets your ideal patients, and C) doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. The hope is, recipients of your deal with share it with friends. As a result, you’ll get more new patients. The truth is, people who purchase Groupon deals don’t often become loyal patients. High initial cost; high investment of lost revenue for free services; poor response; poor loyalty from users.
Blogs Set up a free blog or purchase a blog Your blog’s design should complement your main website and accurately reflect your brand. For your blog to be effective, you must publish search-engine-optimized blog posts weekly, at minimum. Since Google loves news, blogs, and original content, your blog will drive up your Google rankings and, if you use backlinks, your website’s rankings, as well. This should translate into more visibility on the Internet, then more new patients. Busy business owners forget about their blog; don’t have time to post; don’t know what to post about; don’t understand how a blog works and how to measure ROI. A good blog can have amazing ROI.

My Professional Advice

I manage multiple Facebook pages for my client dentists, and without significant interaction from the doctor or office personnel, the pages don’t yield a return. Even when the office staff participates, I’ve not heard of more than a few new patients being acquired as a result of all the efforts.

As for Twitter, I don’t recommend dentists use it. I know of one dentist who posts to Twitter daily, and she has a good following. She keeps up with her patients and colleagues, but Twitter is more of a social tool than a marketing tool.

The folks at Groupon can’t even keep their company profitable, so don’t expect much of a return for your business. In a new release last month, Groupon announced a user loyalty program. As the merchant, you set a bar – an amount of money spent – that, when reached by a customer, will trigger deeper discounts. This new strategy is an effort for Groupon to keep its customers happy and revive interest in their initial public offering (IPO). Back in June, Groupon had serious issues on Wall Street when accounting and leadership problems created significant doubts in the minds of investors. Groupon has yet to complete an IPO, but it should happen soon.

How does Groupon work? First, you discount a service deeply in an effort to attract buyers. Maybe you offer 2-for-1 Zoom! Whitening. Then, you probably lose money when the buyers redeem the Groupon deal. Your only profits would come from retaining the new  patient long term. In fact, if the new patient has insurance and only comes to checkups and cleanings, it could take a long time for you to recoup your initial investment. Besides that, client retention is a problem with people who purchase Groupon deals. This quote is from USA Today, 9/28/11: “Many people who buy the deals from Groupon and similar services redeem the coupons without spending anything extra or returning again, leaving merchants with a loss after splitting the revenue with the coupon distributor.” In some states, dental boards are banning Groupon because of the kickback Groupon gets for each deal purchased.

Blogs, however, are golden. As an example, Modern Dental Practice Marketing does not currently have a website. We have a blog, and it acts as our main website. Each month, we receive thousands of new visitors, and we know where they live, what keywords brought them to our site, and how long they stayed. Visitors have the option of subscribing to receive future blog posts via email, or to contact us immediately by phone or email response form. We use our blog posts in email blasts, print articles, and for newsletters. Our entire business is built around our blog, and we post at least twice a week, sometimes daily.

Dentists, too, benefit from blogs. If placed on a separate URL, a blog makes a dentist’s primary website rank higher. Also, the dentist is found on Google, Yahoo, and Bing for a wider range of keyword phrases. I could delve into specifics here, but I won’t. For more information on blogs, which is what MDPM does best, review these posts:

And, as always, if you’d like to discuss an Internet marketing strategy that will bring your dental practice more patients, call me: Jill Duty at 972-781-8861. I’m a seasoned dental copywriter and the COO at Modern Dental Practice Marketing. If you’d like me to analyze your online dental marketing, shoot me an email. A quick evaluation can tell us how you’re doing and uncover ways to make your website more effective.