The Houston Dental Market is very competitive, that is no secret. Many areas around town have multiple dental practices in such close proximity that it can be hard to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd. There are all types of challenges related to running a successful dental practice that I am well aware of since my wife is a dentist. However, I wanted to share some of the challenges and opportunities that we face at Uptime Houston related to Website Design and Internet Marketing for Dentists in Houston. These tips that I will go over are applicable anywhere in the states. However, since we are currently hyper-focused on dominating the Houston dental market, Houston is the only area I will be discussing in this article.
#1 – Have a strong Internet Presence
When I first started doing internet marketing for dentists I assumed that I would have a difficult time conveying the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to older dental practitioners that have been in business for many years. I also assumed that younger doctors just getting out of school or raised during the “internet generation” would naturally understand the value of the Internet more. The reality has been very different and quite a surprise. Over the past 3 years, I have learned that the biggest factor that determines whether a practice will dedicate the appropriate time and resources to the internet is the owner/doctors strive to be great. Age and/or familiarity with technology is less important than a doctor understanding a couple of things.
- How are your patients looking for you?
- What is your average cost for a new patient?
- What is the monetary value of a new patient?
- As a business with limited time & resources where should I focus my attention?
Interestingly, I have also noticed that the offices I work with that are curious and ask great questions tend to be the offices that get the most out of SEO. Simply hiring someone and hoping that they take care of everything on their own is not a recipe for tremendous success.
I like to have (at least) monthly conversations with the doctor and/or office manager about their goals and how we performed the previous month.
#2 – It is important to be High-Caring over everything else!
A person that I consider a business mentor to me gave me a precious piece of advice a while back. He told me that each practice or business owner can be broken down into 4 categories.
- Category 1: High-Paying – High-Caring
- Category 2: High-Paying – Low-Caring
- Category 3: Low-Paying – High-Caring
- Category 4: Low-Paying – Low-Caring
My mentor told me that ideally, I always want to work for someone in category 1. A person who understands the value of our partnership. This Category 1 person also is very curious about services rendered and understands the power of positive momentum. I have been fortunate to work with several of these Category 1 doctors in Houston over the past several years. When I do an audit of progress and satisfaction, it is also these Category 1 doctors that lead in both of those areas.
All of that may sound pretty obvious but here is where it gets a bit strange. I have found that the Category 3 people tend to be more rewarding to work with than the Category 2 people even though I get paid less! This is due to at my core wanting to please my clients and make sure they are happy and value my work. This may come in the form of a new website design or new patients every month. As for Category 4, my mentor told me I need to learn how to identify them quickly and never work for them.
About a year ago I did a website design for a Category 4 client (I didn’t know at the time they were Category 4). At the onset of the project the client relentlessly bargained and tried to undercut my website design fees. Once the project started the client took forever to respond to emails and progress updates. At the completion of the project the client was indifferent about the end product.
The website didn’t live up to my standards and I knew that it wasn’t making the client happy either due to their approach during the design process. So I convinced myself to give this client a free redesign to make the website something we could both be proud of. I contacted the client and they were more than happy to accept. I had only 1 stipulation, the practice would need to use quality photos of the office and staff as that makes a huge difference when patients are researching your dental office. This stipulation proved to be too much.
The Category 4 client decided that it was too much effort and not worth it. A decision that left me baffled and a little frustrated.
#3 – Make the information your patients are looking for EASY to find
Many of the doctors I have worked with in the Houston dental market have been really great. I get the feeling from so many of them that they want to help the patient understand as much about treatments and alternatives as possible. That is a good thing! What often gets lost in this desire to help is an understanding and appreciation for what your patients are looking for. I am constantly telling my clients that they need to highlight 4 areas of their website. I came to this conclusion after years of managing dental websites and looking at the most visited pages. Time after time, it is the same 4 pages. In my experience, if your dental website does not have ALL 4 of these pages it is essentially broken.
- Doctor & Staff Bio’s and Photos
- Services Offered (with descriptions)
- Contact Information
- Hours and Location
So, these may seem pretty basic but you would be surprised how many dental websites I look at on a daily basis that either do not have this information or make it difficult to find. Here is my schpeal, design is a subjective thing that we can debate over and have different opinions on. However, if you do not have those 4 areas you are blocking yourself from a greater chance of online success.
#4 – In our Houston Dental Market the way to beat your competition is to be BETTER than your competition.
This is something I also find myself saying all the time (though probably not enough). Lets work to be better than your competition. No tricks or gimmicks. Lets provide more value on your website than your competition. Lets write more interesting articles about the common questions you get from your patients. Lets engage with your patients and prospective patients on social media and try to be as helpful as possible, even when that will not lead to a new patient or more money in your pocket. Lets welcome reviews of your practice (good & bad) and respond to all of them with the intent of listening to your patients so that you can get better. Interesting concept, being helpful for the sake of being helpful with no business end goal in mind.
If this is our attitude when we are working together we will have a much better chance of reaching our goals. You will also have a much better chance of standing out from the noise in a town that is very noisy. The trade-off, we are going to have to work harder and pay more attention than the doctor across the street.
If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea then by all means do not do it. There is a cost to be the best and a formula for doing well online.