Don’t be fooled by a smile, a fancy suit and a strong hand shake.
I wrote this article originally as an email to a prospective client. I thought the information would be useful to help you identify the criteria you may want to use when selecting a marketing consultant.
Too many small businesses, including dental practices, get caught up in slick presentations and the promise of (or worse the guarantee of) results.
It is easy to make a promise. It is far more difficult to keep them. As for guarantees, well, if it seems to good to be true, it is too good to be true.
You can’t be expected to know how to separate the good from the bad. It is not an easy thing to do.
What you can do however, is learn a few criteria that will help you make better choices.
Whether it is with me, or some other consultant, these are the things that I know to be extremely important based on my experience thus far.
Can you trust the consultant? I am not asking you to feel like you would leave your children with your marketing consultant. I am, however, asking you to investigate whether or not the consultant has a history of not doing what they say they are going to do. Getting results and guaranteeing results are vastly different. Here are a few ways to accurately guage how trustworthy a consultant is:
- Do they speak with you or do they speak to you?
- Do they have a history of over promising and under delivering? (ask their current clients)
- Do they cost more than any human should spend on a marketing consultant?
- Do they cost less than anyone with a brain would charge for their time?
Go with what your instincts are telling you. If you feel like you hope this is really as good as it sounds, then you are going to have a trust problem down the road.
Website Design Philosophy
Do they place greater emphasis on the aesthetics of a website vs. the sites ability to perform for a business purpose. Aesthetics are important, but NOT in the absence of good website marketing.
Your website should do more than just look good. An effectively designed website has a few very important characteristics that include:
- Easy navigation
- Information that your audience will find useful
- Easy way to contact your practice
- Presentation of patient testimonials
- Optimized for search engines
- High quality original images vs stock images
- A properly designed blog
- Links to social media
- Enough pages for search engines to take note
- A positive and professional color scheme
The list goes on. For this post, just keep it simple. Make your website more about satisfying the needs of your audience than as a beacon of creativity.
Do they understand the difference and the importance of SEO vs Local SEO? (SEO is Search Engine Optimization)
Local search is when someone enters “dentist in boston ma” as a search term. If you are a dentist in Boston MA and want to rank, you need your website to be set up for local searches.
Do they understand the importance of establishing a blog and why its important for a Dentist to do so?
You need a blog. You MUST have a blog. You cannot market online effectively without one.
Do they understand the role of good content for establishing an online presence. More importantly, do they know how to use content to acquire and retain patients?
Content, like a blog, is what drives people to your site and ultimately to your practice. If your marketing consultant doesn’t understand the need for good dental practice content, and how to acquire patients using content, there may be a problem down the road. Note, a press release, while it might make you feel like your out there making it happen, does not make an effective content marketing strategy.
Do they know which social media sites are most important for a Dentist and how to engage social networks for patient retention and acquisition? Do they fully appreciate the importance of establishing a Google + presence and how to do so?
I bet you have tried with little success to engage people on social networks. I know I have. It is not as easy as people think. It is also not a necesarry as people think.
There are however, a few areas that are essential for dental practices. If your consultant doesn’t know what they are, there may be a problem down the road.
Are they familiar with marketing using video beyond creating a Youtube channel. Yes, you should have some good video in your marketing plan. Why? Video is the next best thing to meeting you face to face. It can be used to deliver an important message when you are not there to deliver it yourself. It can also substantially improve your search engine rankings.
Are they familiar with how to set up and systematically execute a referral system that includes online reputation management.
Referrals are the cornerstone of any small business marketing plan. But what constitutes a good referral? How do you go about getting more good referrals? Very important to make sure your consultant understands referrals.
Are they familiar with how to add mobile marketing to a dental marketing plan? What does a dentist really need to do in order to reach a mobile audience? Critical to know the answer to this question.
New Kid On The Block
I have been that new consultant. In fact, I am still very much learning not only about dental marketing, but EVERYTHING related to all types of marketing.
Many will advise you to shy away from the new kid on the block. Personally, I would fight that claim. Why?
Consultants from other walks of life that are new to the dental industry will most likely have a fresh new perspective on how to market your practice. Marketing ideas get stale very fast. What you really want is someone that doesn’t think they know it all. Rookies are always learning.
Look for someone that knows what they know and most importantly, is humbled by what they don’t know.
A few other considerations for you:
- If postcards are a primary component of their marketing strategy, run away.
- If press releases are a primary component of their marketing strategy, run away.
- If TV and/or Radio commercials are a primary component of their marketing strategy, run away.
- If they believe that an email newsletter is a primary component of their marketing strategy, don’t run away, walk slowly away. Newsletters are important, but not a priority.
These questions are not meant to highlight my skills. They are meant to give you some direction when you are evaluating your next steps.
There are a lot of good consultants out there delivering awesome services at a good price. You can find them if you know what you are looking for.