Young Ophthalmologists Addressed at AAO 2013

AAO 2013 New Orleans, LA, Young OphthalmologistsWe just returned from the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2013 in New Orleans, LA.  I had the privilege of participating in the Young Ophthalmologists program where a variety of professionals speak about various aspects of a young doctors’ career.

My message to the young ophthalmologists was understand the merits of  marketing, to engage patients digitally and to exhibit transparency.  The reason?  As AAO president Paul Sternberg, M.D. stressed….because we (ophthalmologists) must continue to adapt and understand the needs of our patients.

Understand Marketing vs. Advertising

Physicians must need to understand basic marketing.

Marketing is not advertising.  Marketing studies the needs and wants of your clients (patients) and provides a solution.

Modern patients want 3 things;

  1. Health information
  2. Doctors who engage digitally
  3. Doctors and Practices which display transparency

Health Information

More than 75% of Americans first venture to the web when looking for health information and looking for a doc.

Google ranks websites based upon the quality of the content of a website.

Doctors have a golden opportunity to provide quality health related content on their websites.  This content educates patients and is used as a fuel to gain high rankings…it’s a “win-win.”

Patients are looking for credible health related content and doctors get rewarded by getting their websites ranked.  Now the website becomes a powerful marketing tool to attract new patients!

Engage Digitally

Just as many offices offer convenience by having Saturday or evening hours, we must learn to understand the needs of our patients.  Patients expect to find fresh and relevant information on the web about their doctors.

There are different ways and levels to digitally engage patients.

At the very least, everyone should have a website.  If no website, your office basically doesn’t exist, even if the office location is across the street.

Doctors may choose to add content on their website.  “Content” would come in the form of articles which talk about health related issues.  Credible articles on health issues brings value to the website and the doctor.  With value, comes trust.

The most engaging types of websites are interactive blogs.  This is the most compelling type of website, has the best marketing potential and engages patients.  This public display of a “conversation” is the purest form of social media.

Personal Transparency

I often speak about the quest to find doctors who are people.  This may indeed be the modern “bedside” manner.  Through a well constructed web presence, a patient should be able to determine some basic elements about their doctors.

Memberships to elite organizations, diplomas from fancy schools, membership plaques, etc. usually adorn our office walls.  Unfortunately, these have little relevance to our patients.

Instead, young doctors must consider distinguishing themselves as who they are vs. what they are.  In my office and on my website, I often refer to my personal hobbies, interests and activities.  These personal attributes are much more relevant to any non-medical person.

Not to sure about sharing personal attributes?  Then consider sharing some of your practice philosophies.

Transparent Business

A medical practice is a small business.  Every small business, except for medical practices, operates transparently.

Review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s list are popular due to the relevance to the consumer.  Friendliness of staff, cleanliness of the office, ease of appointments, time spent with the doctor, etc. are all important factors when patients chose a doctor.

Every other business runs transparently.  Review sites for doctors are going to increase, not disappear.

Randall Wong, M.D.
Medical Marketing Enterprises, LLCSEO and Blogging for Professionals

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Website Should Be “Under Construction”

Medical marketing enterprises.  Every great website should be under constructionEvery great website should always be “under construction.”  Of the three types of sites;  resource, marketing and interactive, only the resource site is ever really finished.

And you know I’m not talking about web design.

Great websites must remain dynamic whether by adding a constant stream of great content or with user generated comment vis-a-vis threads and conversations.

Content Marketing is Best

Blogging, or content marketing, remains the most important marketing strategy for your medical practice or small business.  While many businesses promote their use of a social media marketing strategy, blogging remains #1 in terms of ROI, branding and value.

The success of content marketing can be easily measured.  Visitors, bounce rate, comments, click through rates are all metrics showing the likes and needs of your patients, your customers.

The expense of time spent on a social media campaign is less tangible perhaps only because social media efforts ultimately draw attention to a great website that is “under construction.”

Value, Dedication, Commitment

Your content provides your patients with value.  Your articles provide solutions (answers) to their health specific questions.  Moreover, your consistent writing also displays a level of dedication and commitment that sets you apart from your competitors.

Value is the key to any website, but by continued and consistant writing, your dedication and commitment turns you into an industry expert.

Your content also remains the key factor to obtaining great SEO…unmatched and immesurable with any social media campaign.

What Can You Do?

Develop a long range objectives for your practice, i.e. define your marketing goals.

Write articles consistently on topics related to your long range initiative (SEO best practice).

With time, your articles will begin to reach out to your patients, compelling them to write and leave comments.  Make sure to answer each of the comments in a timely manner, thus creating a dialogue.  This visible interaction and engagement is the heart and soul of a blog and will eclipse any social media based campaign with respect to ROI, branding and providing value to your patients.

Both content marketing and engaging your patients online present time challenges and require consistent and continued publications and responses.  

A great website, therefore, is never completed and, hence, is always “under construction.”

To Your Growth And Success!

Randy

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization

www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

Google Plus: Lots to “Like”

Google Plus and Author Rank, Medical Marketing Enterprises.There are 3 reasons to use Google Plus.  After starting your Facebook, I recommend starting your Google Plus Account.

Your Google + account will now get you noticed on a Google Places, can aggregate any reviews about your practice (from other sites other than Google), selectively share information via Circles with new and old colleagues and starts your Author Ranking!

Google Local and Business Page

Starting a Google + Business page simply requires a free Gmail email address.  Follow the directions to get your practice indexed on Google +.

As Facebook and Google Plus plan their local search strategies, you want to make sure either you create your business page or claim one which already exists.  Simply make sure your contact information is correct.  With time, you can add more information.

Google Circles: Selective Sharing

A unique feature of Google + are the “circles.”  Circles are different groups of people based upon a common interest or relationship, for example, Friends, Family, Business, etc.

This allows you to pick and choose the group of friends with whom you’d like to share information. You can use “circles” to customize your communications….you can tailor who you’d simply like to follow versus people you’d like to share information.

At the outset, Circles are the same as “Friends” on FaceBook, but Friends lack the ability to share vs. follow and sharing may not reach all of your followers. (Facebook does not share all of your posts with all of your followers).

Circles allows  you to wear several hats yet use the same account.

Author Rank

Author Rank is the newest variable introduced last summer for SEO.  Simply put, author rank, measures your expertise and contribution to the Internet on any particular subject.  How your Author Rank is computed is another post.  The greater your Author Rank, the more credible and trusted you are as an expert.

The higher your PageRank, the higher your rankings.  Now, the better your Author Rank and PageRank, the higher your rankings.

This means two articles with very similar content, i.e. with the same PageRank, will now be ranked differently based upon Author Rank…the article written by the author with the highest rank (i.e. trust and credibility) wins!

Google Authorship via Google Plus Profile

Establish your Google Authorship!  The next goal is to inform Google which is/are your website(s).  Uniting your Google Plus profile with your particular website(s) alerts Google of your Authorship.

In your Google Plus profile, list the website(s) to which you contribute.  In your websites, attach the code to your Google Plus profile.  This is most easily done by creating a hyperlink using your name as anchor text back to your Google Plus profile page, or make sure you are using Genesis on WordPress!

WordPress and Genesis

The newest version of Genesis recognizes author rank and allows you to marry your user profile with your Google + profile by simply entering your profile code into your WordPress user profile….done!

To your Success!

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization
www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

My Favorite Social Media Platforms

Start Facebook Business Page only after website is completeWhen you are ready to start using social media, I recommend starting Facebook and Google +.  Start them only if your website is up and running…and in that order.

Social media platforms are great and very powerful, but if you are not ready for social media, no need to draw attention to a website that either doesn’t exist or is horribly stale.

Your primary reason for starting is to broaden exposure of your website, thereby marketing your practice…and to get indexed on local search.  Both Google and Facebook have likely already indexed your office address as a local business.  More and more, readers are using FB and GP for “local search,”  that is, looking for doctors and other businesses while logged in to FB and/or Google Plus.

Setup Facebook First

Establish your Facebook first.  It is the largest social media platform filled mostly with friends and family.  Not only will you know many of your new “fans,” but, it will be much easier for you to find someone to help you get started.  Starting will be less onerous!  Chances are that someone in your own home or office can show how to get started.

Facebook is a great way to politely remind your friends and family the nature of your business and what type of medicine you practice.  Most of us don’t like to “advertise” to our friends, yet most of our friends and family would indeed prefer to use our services because of our relationship.  Your friends may be too bashful to ask you directly about talking shop or are too embarrassed to admit they forgot your specialty,  but they can look you up easily on FB.

Set up a Facebook Page or claim ownership of a pre-existing page (sometimes you’ll find your business is already listed on FB).  You don’t have to duplicate the information on your website, but do make sure you have accurate contact information.  Second, make sure you have a link to your website.

Readers interested in becoming your next patient, as is true for all social media platforms, will find their way to your website.  Your FB page (and other social media platforms) simply draw attention to you and your website.

“Liking” Facebook

In your office and on your website, ask your patients to visit your Facebook page and “Like” you.  “Liking” you ensures that everyone who does so will receive all updates made on your Facebook Page.  Also, the more likes a page receives, the more a business page will be displayed during local search.

Lastly, make sure Facebook Page is linked to an email address.  Comments and “Like” notifications will be emailed to you so you an monitor FB without logging in!

What Do I Write on Facebook?

Announce your most recent articles posted on your website.  You’ve already spent lots of time and energy writing some great content, now use your new social media accounts to share your stuff!  As you gain confidence, you’ll want to add news about the office, media releases about health related events, etc.

The idea is to let people know about your office, the type of medicine you practice, you are willing to engage in social media and you have a website.

With time you’ll find others will take notice and will be following your postings on FB and GP.

To your successs!

Next time…Google Plus!

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization
www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

 

 

 

I Bought a New Car

Meet patients online needs.I bought a new car last week.  This is not a post about buying a car, but there are some strong messages about online relationships.

I chose a 2013 Honda Crosstour, the dealer, and my salesperson before ever walking into a sales room.  I did it all online.

The Right Time to Buy

I haven’t had a brand new car since 1990.  My last 3 were previously owned.  I simply drove too much to justify the rapid depreciation costs of a new vehicle.

While two kids are already driving, we will have 3 more who will be of driving age in the next 18 months.  The car I just traded in wasn’t safe enough to keep around for any of them.

So, for a myriad of reasons it was time to buy.  As it was Christmas break, I didn’t want to waste precious vacation time.

Online Window Shopping

Through several auto sites (USAA, Edmunds, Autotrader) I expressed interest in the particular make and model; Crosstour V6, 2013.  In doing so, interested dealers in zip code made contact via email.

Within 24 hours I had received emails from 6 area dealerships.  I read the reviews of the dealerships.  I easily chose two finalists.

The others were disqualified for;

  • Deception:  gave me a quote for a 2012, not 2013.  No 2013′s even in stock.
  • No Quote:  wanted me to visit dealership first before giving me a quote
  • No Response: waited too long to email me or return emails
  • Poor After Market Service

“I Will Beat Any Deal You Receive”

The two “finalists” were quick to communicate and straightforward with answering my questions through emails, gave me a quote and showed some personal interest in meeting me.  They engaged me by accommodating my needs.

In his opening email, my eventual salesperson, “Ama,” even stated he’d” beat any offer” and gave a most competitive quote.  To me, this meant he was serious in wanting to meet me.

For the purpose of comparing, I visited both dealerships.  The first dealership just couldn’t beat the quote I received from Ama.  I drove across town and bought the car from Ama.

What Can You Learn?

Buying a car is a huge purchase.

It seems only too natural to start your search for a dealer and salesman online.  Price is a huge factor, but so is the personality of the sales team.  Are they willing to negotiate, or are they jerks?  Can I start a relationship with a specific person before entering the show room?

For me, there was great satisfaction in already knowing who I’d be dealing with upon my arrival, knowing he’d was anticipating my visit and that we’d already begun the negotiation.  I was also very happy that I was choosing a dealership endorsed by others.

Satisfied, I made the purchase.  I had found a dealership who takes online shopping seriously.  I met a salesman who understands that the online customer is likely to be very savvy about the purchase, but also, very serious about buying a car.

They met my needs.

Just as the dealership met my needs.  We, as doctors and health providers, need to meet our patients needs.  Most of America search first for questions about health providers online.  We need to provide information on our sites about our practice philosophy and who we are as people.

Just as I expect this about a car purchase, our patients, with their health on the “line,” expect to find us on the Internet, too.  Create websites with great content, educate and become transparent.

The car sales industry is changing, but really it’s the consumer, i.e. our patients.  I turned to the Internet for my car.  Doesn’t it make sense more would turn to the Internet for more important issues such as health?

Take them seriously, meet their needs and you’ll be greeting them in person when they walk through your office door.