(This article is a 4.5 minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU’LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1. The rules you need to follow for marketing dental services in Australia
2. Why planning your posts matters
3. How to start from the end for the best results
Companies selling marketing services to dentists frequently don't understand they’re dealing with different rules. The rules for marketing dental practices are different to those for a shop or a beautician or, heaven forbid, a digital marketing agency.
“That rule about testimonials,” they say, “you can't really get busted for that, can you?”
Which is missing the point. You don't want to risk your registration on the off-chance that no-one notices the patient testimonials on your site. And you don't want to cop a $5000-to-$10,000 fine if a competitor dobs you in.
Also, you don't want to mislead a patient before you've even started a relationship with them.
What are the rules for marketing dental practices?
Section 133 of the National Law that covers advertising for your practice says any advertising, blog, or social media post breaks the law if it:
- is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be so
- offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract a user of the health service without stating the terms and conditions of the offer
- uses testimonials or purported testimonials
- creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment, and/or
- encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of health services.
But if it offers timely, accurate information that benefits consumers, it is not only okay. It's good.
How to ensure your blog complies
There is a way you can plan your blog and social media to ensure it complies with the law. It involves making a basic plan for your blog and social posts to educate patients. That leads them to the natural conclusion that they should book an appointment with you.
Start with an intention to publish 12 blog posts. Get a blank piece of paper and divide it into three columns. In the left hand column, write the numbers one to six. In the middle column, write one to four. In the right hand column, write 1 and 2.
Filling out your plan
Go back to the left hand column. Beside each number, write a problem or symptom that a patient may have. Don't use professional language. Write them in the language a patient would us, like “teeth grinding” or “yellow stains” or “tooth pain”.
In the middle column, write four solutions to the problems. They may be general approaches, like “preventative dentistry”, or specific treatments, like “snoring appliances”.
In the third column, write two, and only two, areas of your expertise. I know you have more than two. But right now, we just want two.
Creating the link
Now you have twelve subjects to blog about. Before you start writing, draw some lines between the columns. This shows you a natural path from a problem, that leads to a treatment, that leads to your expertise.
When you start writing, start at the third column; the two articles about your expertise. Not only will they be the easiest to write, but they will be the ones you are most confident about writing. When you have finished, publish them on your website.
Then tackle the next four. With each one, end it with a bolded sentence or two pointing readers to one of the two articles about your own experience.
Finally, write the six articles in the left hand column. At the end of each one, include a call-to-action. This should point readers to those most recent four articles as shown on your plan; the ones about treatments.
Making it social
Then use your Facebook page to post about the articles. You can also promote those posts, or boost them, with the view to getting people back to your website to read them. Those boosted posts are advertisements. But they do not contravene any laws, because they are trying to educate people, not mislead them.
The articles people are most likely to read are the first six. When they reach the end, they see a natural path leading them to the next four articles. And when they read them, they are led to an article about your expertise.