THREE THINGS YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. Why dental blog content is cheaper than traditional advertising
2. Why people block traditional ads, but not content
3. How content works better than old-fashioned methods
One way to measure advertising is by calculating the cost per patient of each ad. If an ad costs you $2000, but gets you 20 patients, you would say the cost per patient is $100. If you ran an advertisement somewhere and got 20 patients from it, you would probably be pretty happy.
The problem is ads are campaign-based. That means once that ad has gone, it loses its effectiveness. You have to run it again to get another 20 patients, and again to get another 20. You will also experience diminishing returns after everyone who wants what you’re advertising has seen it.
Dental blog content is cheaper because it stays online for as long as you want it to. People circulate it voluntarily as they find it. Your content can attract your second 20 patients, and the next 20, as they find it organically through Google searching or on social media.
Content is cheaper because it gives you control over reaching patients, rather than giving someone else that control.
Advertising will be effective when you get the right message to the right people at the right time. You can make an effective ad, but how do you find the right people and the right time? And what if the right people at the right time don’t like your ad?
The advantage of content is its more adaptable. It doesn’t have to be perfect for the time and place it’s consumed. Content is designed to create a relationship and build an audience, so can be made appropriate for any environment. If your most powerful ad features a photograph of a beautiful, beaming smile, is it going to be as effective as a banner on Facebook? Or as a tweet?
Content is about ideas rather than words or pictures, so can be adapted to any environment.
You may have heard of ad blockers. You may even use ad blockers. According to a recent study (from January this year), at least 70 per cent of consumers either use ad blockers or are interested in using one.
Obviously, that only applies online. But we block ads in our everyday lives too. We ignore them, or leave the room or change the station when they’re on, or just flick over the page in the magazine.
We do it because ads are designed to interrupt you when you’re doing something else. That’s the whole premise behind display advertising. You find the audience you want, then shout at them to buy your product or service. That idea is remarkably persistent. And it’s not only annoying—it’s fundamentally flawed. In fact, the more interested in content someone is, the less effective an ad placed around that content is going to be.
It’s going to be more beneficial to you if you find a way of creating content that people want to read. Rather than trying to interrupt them when they’re reading something else.
US retail magnate and civil leader John Wanamaker said; “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.
A lot of marketing has always defied really solid accountability. Everyone wants to get a return on their advertising investment, but it’s been notoriously hard to track an ROI on traditional ads. Digital ads were meant to provide a solution to that, with their ability to track engagements and click-throughs. Instead, we learnt that fewer than one per cent of people who saw an ad clicked on it. Of course, that depends on where the ad is served. But even Facebook ads only get a 1.57 per cent click through rate, according to a recent report.
Now, those measurement tools can just as easily be applied to content as advertising. The difference is content can (and does) have more targets. If you have a piece of content on your site that you thought would result in a particular action, but it doesn’t, there’s a simple fix. Change it. Tweak it. Add a different call to action. Change the picture. Readers will not be bothered or offended, because it is just designed to give them something.
It’s just not as easy to do that with an ad.
When was the last time you said to yourself, "I really have to subscribe to that series of advertisements"? I'm guessing the answer is: never.
If an ad is selling something you don't want to buy, you ignore it. But if you read or see something that teaches you something new, you retain it. If you read a couple of articles or blog posts from someone that teaches you something new, you may even subscribe to it.
Having said that, there are plenty of people who get their blog content wrong. Those people think of it as a way to close a sale. Or to convince someone to close their laptop and walk into the surgery. Because we’ve all been trained to think that way by advertising.
But really good salespeople know that it doesn’t work that way. My father was a really good salesman, and he used to tell us that no-one likes being sold something, but everyone loves buying stuff.
That insight is what drives the success of using blog content to market your practice. That content works best when it builds an informed, engaged audience. That audience will come to you when they are ready, because you are their trusted source of information.
Which is better for your practice: a patient who doesn’t know or care about their oral health? Or one who does?
At first glance, some people might say the former. But those patients who don’t care don’t come in to the surgery very often. When they do come in, it’s generally some kind of emergency, which isn’t that satisfying for you to work on. And because they don’t give a toss about their oral health, they’re unlikely to follow your treatment plans.
But a patient who cares about their oral health will come in more regularly. They will be more likely to refer new business. They will be more likely to try services such as whitening, ortho, TMJ, and others that can be better for your practice. And they are probably happier, which makes them nicer to deal with.
Content helps turn your patients into the second type.
I know I often think of questions to ask my dentist—and when I’m in the chair, with gas in my nose and his fingers in my mouth, I completely forget them. I would be a better patient if I could Google those questions and find his answers.
In conclusion, dental blog content is cheaper, more effective, more adaptable, and less manipulative than traditional advertising. It also helps you build a stronger relationship with patients, and gives new patients a way of getting to know you.
If you’ve heard other arguments against blogging that we haven’t covered here, let us know in the comments and we’ll answer as soon as we see it.