How to Market Your Dental Practice Online

The Dental Business Guide Podcast Episode | February 11th
Arun Mehra, George Bellamy and Nikita Kanda

George Bellamy: Welcome back to The Dental Business Guide. I’m George and today I’m with both Nikita and Arun – welcome guys.

Arun Mehra: Hi George, Hello.

George Bellamy: Right, I think let’s just dive straight into it. So Arun, obviously when you started Samera and The Neem Tree, you didn’t really have a marketing team…

Arun Mehra: No, not at all, I remember I was the marketing team as well as the loo cleaner as well as helping out with everything behind the scenes. When you start the business, at that point you were learning as you started.

I remember when we started off the marketing, we were putting flyers together, we were getting posters together. In the days when we started this up, I created the website myself using something called Microsoft Front Page which was the tool in those days that talked about early 2000 to 2003. So were you even born? I’m not actually sure.

So I remember creating that and that was a great foundation for learning about marketing, but also a great foundation to realise how interesting it is, but also how bloody difficult it is!

George Bellamy: I definitely agree with that.

Arun Mehra: It definitely is and marketing can ultimately make your business or destroy it and you can burn so much cash at the end of the day, you’ve got no customers, so you’ve got to be careful.

George Bellamy: I mean fast forward to 2021, Samera has five… six members of the marketing team or the digital team. I like to say; we’re thriving and I think we’re definitely trying to tackle the market as well as we can online.

Nikita this is where you come in, because we focus mainly on adverts and Facebook ads, Google ads and we didn’t really push anything on Instagram. We didn’t really push anything on any social media organically and in a way that’s really where you came in.

So you know, really what I’m just trying to ask is if I was a dental practice owner, why should I invest in a marketing team? Why should I even bother about social media?

Nikita Kanda: I think these days in 2021 you definitely need social media, whatever business you have. Whether it’s Dental or GP or anything, you need to have social media like Instagram or Facebook because it’s taken over the world at the moment. Social media has taken over everything and everybody’s got it, doesn’t matter what age you are, everybody is on it.

They will see your business on any social media platform and it’s so important because you can reach so many more people and you can reach more people in different countries and different age groups, there’s so much more reach you can get to and engagement. So I definitely think it helps your business.

It will draw clients or patients in the door, again, you’re reaching a different type of market. I think probably the number one tool at the moment for marketing is social media. There’s so many different platforms, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, you can go on and on and there’s a different trend every single week. So you got to keep up with it. I’d definitely spend at least one hour a day or a couple of hours a day on it, to make sure it can benefit your business, but it will benefit your business.

George Bellamy: Yeah, definitely.

Arun Mehra: I’m very much the dinosaur on the podcast today and it’s evident to me that you guys are in your 20’s me in my late 40’s and I’m 20 years behind. I am not really picking up. Obviously we have social media accounts personally as well, but it wasn’t part of the culture as I was growing up.

However, in terms of marketing, the same principles of marketing that we’ve been doing for the last 20 years still apply today. I think that’s the really important message here. Social media is just a layer on top of that to get that message out, but the principles of marketing definitely remain the same.

George Bellamy: Definitely. So I’m starting a practice and I’ve got the basics. I’ve got your dental nurses associates, I’ve got a receptionist, I’ve got all of that but I haven’t done anything about marketing. Do I need a whole full-fledged marketing team? Because as I said earlier, we have five or six members of our marketing team. I think it’s right, isn’t it? Five, six members?

Arun Mehra: Yeah, about six, yes.

George Bellamy: We have many people on our marketing team. Do you need that six people, or can you get away with just having one?

Arun Mehra: I think in my opinion, obviously our marketing team is not just only for us, but we also support other clients. So that’s the first thing, we’ve obviously got more people than a normal dental business would have, but the roles are exactly the same.

So you need to have a team there that will support you through your business. Now, if you’re running a business or running a dental clinic, you’re busy doing dentistry. Do you really have the time, as Nikita mentioned earlier, to spend one or two hours getting the socials right on your website or out there in the marketplace? You probably don’t.

The key is to delegate these tasks to a number of team members, whether you hire someone internally or use an agency external, like ourselves, that’s your choice. But you need to have all these things ticked in the box, so that you’re ultimately getting the customers or patients through the door. 

George Bellamy: Amazing. Alright so Nikita, you and I last time, we spoke about analytics and reading through with a fine tooth comb all your data that you get from your insights, the analytics through your Instagram, Facebook etc.

So how can you use that information with marketing? A lot of it is paid for marketing, advertisers doing Google ads, it’s doing Facebook ads, a lot of the time doing things organically takes a while to start to gain traction. Obviously, it’s easier, it’s quicker if you just pay to have adverts done. So how would looking through analytics on your Instagram page help you pinpoint your demographic for adverts?

Nikita Kanda: So with Instagram and Facebook, most social media platforms have this feature where you can see your insights in your data. So what that means is, you can see where your posts or your videos or your adverts are reaching; how many males and females it’s reaching, which age groups it’s reaching, which countries it’s reaching.

So that will help and it will also tell you what time of the day your posts are getting the most engagement or the most reach or being seen by the most people. I think it’ll help you in terms of adverts because then you’ll know which time to post it, when to post, where to post stories or your page is better for your advert.

But also, you can pick which countries you want it to reach to as well, all that sort of stuff. So it just helps you with getting this data, it really helps you know your audience and your followers, what they’re interested in or when they’re going to see your post, which is really important.

George Bellamy: Arun, anything else you would like to add?

Arun Mehra: I’d like to add, I think it’s important on the social media side, it takes time to build up that following. Whilst it’s great, you want to also think about the advertising side of things, as Nikita said, you can post socially and post organically, but it takes time. So you can jump to the top of the queue if you want by putting adverts out there and sometimes there’s a bit of confusion between what is social media. But nowadays social media covers the organic as well as the paid side of things.

So you want to put ads on Instagram and put ads on Facebook. It’s such a powerful tool. In terms of the data points that you’ve got, you can choose who, what and where, if they clicked on a certain website link, you can even market to those types of people specifically. It is a bit creepy, to some extent, but that’s the world we live in these days. It’s just trying to help every kind of company or business who is doing this and trying to follow your path to ultimately lead you to making a sale.

You can do that in your dental clinic as well for this, but it takes time and effort to set up and again, this is something that you could do yourself 100%. But do you have the time and the resources to do that? If not, think about getting a third party to assist.

Nikita Kanda: Just to add there as well, not to be pushy on social media we do that a lot at Samera. We don’t push people into signing up for this and that, we just organically do that. We want them to just see our stuff, but we don’t want to push it. But I also think it is important to have somebody that is used to social media because, like I said, you do need to spend a good couple of hours on it every single day to build up that following and build up that engagement.

Because like Arun said, that isn’t going to happen overnight. Especially with social media, you want it to be organic, and you want to have those real followers as real people engaging with you. So it will take time. So don’t don’t get scared if you’ve set up this Instagram page or Facebook and you’re not getting any followers in the first week, it will happen. But you just have to spend the time over a couple of months and build it up.

Arun Mehra: Valid point you raise there, because there are businesses that have thousands upon thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers. Have they really got those followers or are they fake followers?

George Bellamy: It’s the engagement rate really…

Nikita Kanda: Yeah, I think it’s the fake followers. To be honest, I think a lot of these practices or any businesses, they straightaway will have around 40,000 followers. You should think, well look at their engagement and see how many likes they actually get.

Does it compare to how many followers they have? If they have 40,000 followers, and they have ten likes on one picture that doesn’t quite add up. And also, people who have younger followers will see that and be like, ‘that’s not real’ so then they might not trust that dental practice or they might not trust that business and go somewhere else. 

George Bellamy: What else are you lying about?

Nikita Kanda: Yeah, I would always say be organic and it will happen, your followers will go up, you just have to push the right content and be genuine. I think that’s the main point.

Arun Mehra: I think that’s the key word you mentioned. Also ‘trust’ as well as that. Ultimately, you’re displaying who you are and what you do, and it’s that trust that is so important in business and in anything we do and in terms of social media as well. 

George Bellamy: Definitely. So, this is another one for you, Arun. If I don’t have the resources to be able to have someone to do my social media for me full time and I want to start making ads, I want to start getting more patients, which platform should I use for adverts? Should I focus purely on Facebook, or should I focus purely on Google? Or are there any others that I’m completely missing?

Arun Mehra: Great question, George. Now, we’ve talked socials, but I am a huge fan of, ultimately, Google. Google is what I’ve built my businesses on over the last 20 years. Facebook wasn’t even around back then, so my view personally is to dominate Google, if you can.

Now, how do you dominate Google? Well, there’s two primary ways. One is through search, so optimising yourself through Search Engine Optimization to get people to find you organically. Again, that is a long process that takes time, it also takes patience, it takes a lot of effort. Google’s always changing its algorithm to catch you out, but that’s part and parcel of the game.

The other way is through pay per click advertising on Google. It’s those ads you see at the top of Google, when you do a Google search. That’s a shortcut to the top and that’s how Google makes most of its money. It is in fact a powerful way, if it’s set up right, to get customers through the door.

Now, contrast that to Facebook ads, or Facebook social, no doubt, again, very powerful. But that’s social media, Facebook’s very much still around people are in their social element, they’re hanging out on Facebook or on Instagram. Google is very much a search engine, people are always searching for something, either I need a dentist today, I’m in pain today, see who comes to the top.

If it’s you or you’re near to the top, it’s very likely they’ll come to you. So you got to play the market right and play with these things. But, regardless, they’re both very powerful tools to use and I would strongly advocate it. If you don’t have the resources, as an answer to your original question George, if you had one thing to focus on, primarily just focus initially on getting Google right.

George Bellamy: Just Google, so would you then begin to narrow that question down, then would you then focus on just adverts or by boosting your SEO, If you had to choose one?

Arun Mehra: If your time is limited but you’re okay financially, I would go with Google ads because that gets you to the top of the list straight away, as long as you set it up right and optimised it correctly. Over the long term though, you will still want to have an SEO strategy because eventually you want to dominate organically.

So eventually, you won’t need the adverts at all, because you would just come up for the search term that people type in the search bar. That is a long term process that takes time, effort and money to do. If I look at our business, The Neem Tree, for instance, we started off with Google ads. Now, we still do Google ads but our budget has reduced because our SEO positions have just got stronger and stronger over the years, that’s how I would do it. 

Nikita Kanda: I think talking of Google, I think Google reviews is another massive thing at the moment that I’m seeing. Every dental practice is posting their Google reviews a lot at the moment. I definitely think if you can, get your patients to send you Google reviews and post those on your social media because people are looking at reviews a lot at the moment.

George Bellamy: Yeah, to back off that, they always say don’t judge a book by its cover but everyone does. You know, if I’m on Just Eat, for example, looking for a nice takeaway at night. If I see a restaurant, which looks pretty good, but the reviews are a bit iffy. I won’t go with it just because I’m judging a book by its cover.

Arun Mehra: Did you see that case earlier this week, there was an unhappy client of a solicitors firm and he wrote a Trustpilot review about the solicitor on their website saying they weren’t very good, the solicitors ultimately sued him. So it definitely had a knock on effect on their business and the solicitor won and now he has to pay them £25,000.

It’s because the impact the review had and the way he did it, and the language he used. So that’s very interesting that now that the courts are showing favour this time, to the law firm, and so people who are posting negative reviews have to be careful as well, increasingly in this litigious environment we live in.

George Bellamy: Wow, I’ve seen lots of images of screenshots of restaurant owners when the customer leaves a one star review, because they can’t leave anything lower than that. They say that the service is horrible etc and the owner has actually replied to the comment to the review and has just completely called him out on everything. You know, it’s quite funny to see actually.

Arun Mehra: That’s the key, the key if you do get a bad review, you should definitely respond to it. There is no point getting into a debate or an argument online, but always respond to it. 

George Bellamy: Accept if you are genuinely in the wrong. Accept it, put your hands in the air and say: ‘yeah we messed up. We do apologise. I hope we can rectify it.’

Arun Mehra: But also, but at the same time, if you’re not in the wrong, you just need to say it. You can make it clear, then obviously it takes two to tango, our opinion is very different but we wish you well.

George Bellamy: Yeah. Just say I’m afraid we couldn’t see eye to eye, etc, etc. I think that’s definitely right 

Google ads, Google reviews are just as important because we do live in a world where we judge a book by its cover. I guess the 21st century it’s 2021, which is ridiculous. I didn’t think we would even get to this year. We do everything on our phones, It’s crazy. You walk through the town and you see people just on their phones and everyone’s in a state of focusing on what’s on their phones, reading news articles, more or less it’s quite scary, actually.

You know, before lockdown I was on the train through London and people are on their phones on the train. If this was 15 years ago, there would be newspapers out, or there would be people reading books or even just looking out of the window. But nowadays, everyone’s on their phones. They’re watching their new TV series on Netflix and it is scary, it really is. 

Arun Mehra: Where does it all end George? 

Nikita Kanda: I don’t think it will, I think it will carry on like this and social media and all these technologies are just gonna carry on taking over. You’ve just got to use it to your advantage, especially with businesses, use it to your advantage in a good way.

I’d also say, people search on Google for everything nowadays but a lot of younger people usually start searching on Instagram or Facebook first. So if your business doesn’t have an Instagram page or a Facebook page, people are going to be a bit more iffy about that. If you haven’t got a social media page, are you even real? Social media instils people’s trust in you.

Arun Mehra: You’re so right, Nikita. I was talking to my son the other day, and he’s just launched a little website and he’s not interested in getting it advertised on Facebook or Google, he said, it’s Instagram and Tiktok as what he’s doing. It’s all on Tiktok. He’s gonna get his customers through TikTok or Instagram and I’m completely looking blankly at him.

All I know is that some dancey thing that happens, but but you’re right, it’s evolving. As I said, right at the outset, I think, ultimately, it’s about getting your message out and it’s about crafting. Good marketing is ultimately about crafting good stories, interesting stories, which engage with your customers. You can’t be everything to everyone so you just want to engage the right kind of customer that works for you and it works for them and ultimately get a happy result for everybody. 

Nikita Kanda: Definitely.

George Bellamy: Spot on, well, I think we should leave it as that, you know, marketing, it’s one of those things that you kind of turn a blind eye to and don’t think you need it but it’s very important. If you want to drive sales up, you’re going to gain more patients. You know, as you said, running Google Ads is probably your way forward if you haven’t got the resources to run your social media full time. But then again, Instagram is just as important. So they’re both very different angles to look at. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today and we’ll catch you on the next one.

Arun Mehra: No worries George and good luck with your marketing everybody and if you need help you know where we are. Give us a shout. Thanks.

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