The Internet world of Social Networking, Try Updates YouTube, MySpace, and Web 2.0 are the “New Frontier” in PR marketing for orthodontic and professional practices. Marketing savvy professionals that are willing to venture outside their comfort zone and embrace the new age of online marketing for small businesses, will lead the way, guaranteeing their future positioning in online marketing.Social Networking

Knowing how to correctly combine online and offline marketing strategies to effectively market your practice to the current tech-savvy generations requires a synergy of marketing modalities. Capturing the attention of the most entrepreneurial, overstressed and skeptical generations to date, requires a new way of thinking on the part of professionals practices.

GenX, GenY, and Global Tweens are flocking to Web 2.0 locations where they:

* Blog and leave comments; voice their opinions good and bad

* Listen to audios and watch videos on specific content of interest to them

* Research on business/special interest websites to gain information

* Are entertained

* Communicate with each other in social communities such as MySpace, Facebook etc.

There isn’t a subject or idea that doesn’t have an online community where people share information, ideas, news, and thoughts. The goal of web 2.0 marketing is to embrace this type of information gathering and proactively join in to increase patient awareness of your practice and services.

Your Digital Fingerprint

Internet marketing is “evergreen”, leaving a digital fingerprint of who you are and what your practice is all about. Taking marketing responsibility of your business with the latest in Web 2.0 marketing tactics is the preferred communication tool of tech-savvy generations when gathering information. Failing to understand this new phenomenon may prove disastrous for those unwilling to update their marketing strategies.

Once on the web, your message is broadcast to the world. Attracting and maintaining attention once visitors click on your site is what Web 2.0 is all about. Companies of all shapes, sizes, product/service categories will drop an estimated $1.4 billion on social media advertising this year alone. By 2012 the investment should double. Online marketing is the most direct means of reaching patients interested in your treatment services. Old traditional marketing methods no longer cut it. Melding successful marketing tactics that include word of mouth marketing with online digital technology is a winning combination. It is also the most direct and cost-effective means of educating potential patients.

The challenge for marketers is understanding what social media is, how it works/interacts, which avenue(s) do you use, how do you measure social media results…and what are the obstacles.Marketing

Social media:

is all about people and building relationships, sharing opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives with others

can generate effective viral word of mouth for your treatment services

is an arena dominated by early adopters (revolutionaries) willing to lead the way for others through the new Internet frontier

will become increasingly significant in influencing how other practices follow the “Internet Cowboys” who lead online marketing tactics in orthodontics

provides a unique opportunity to connect with referring professionals and patients to gain feedback and provide content rich information.

The demand, the interest, and the need for social networking are growing in leaps and bounds. The Internet is no longer the future of marketing… it is NOW. However, the window of opportunity to take advantage of positioning is limited. Savvy online marketers implementing successful marketing strategies to stake their claim in online marketing real-estate today will be tough to unseat with the current rules of online social networking, tomorrow. It is forecast that Internet traffic will quadruple by 2010. The ability to understand and engage your target market with the rules of online marketing is critical to the future growth of your practice.

If you think email is overpowering you, it is inconsequential compared to the volume of content that is being streamed, pushed and pulled across the Internet.

Business, As Usual, Has Changed

The dynamics of business, as usual, have changed dramatically – internally and externally. Practices no longer have control over what is being said online. It is an open forum for consumers on Google maps, online yellow pages, and other information and social network sites. Once added, only the author can delete their personal comment, both good and bad. Positive comments are always an asset. However, disgruntled patients now have a new venue to blow off steam, justified or not, that can deter future referrals and adversely affect your practice. Monitoring online comments, good customer service, and positive treatment experiences are more important than ever before.

Perspective patients move in/out of professional websites day in and day out when researching treatment providers. Without a website, you are off the radar with today’s tech-savvy generations. You may as well be invisible. Social networking and Web 2.0 is forcing business to rethink and update their marketing information methods.

The proponents of online marketing claim unbridled marketing success. However, it is difficult to precisely pinpoint the value and ROI in traditional metrics. It is impossible to find the beginning and end points of an online program, especially when you have no control over consumer feedback.

For most businesses, it is the online video opportunities that track the most interest and the most attention. The ability to attract and identify click through rate is…HUGE!!! Online viewing is changing how the entertainment/marketing communities reach their target “market.”

The Internet is turning the movie and entertainment industry upside down as viewers increasingly expect immediate access to content 24/7. Their key concern today for marketers is how to monetize the video experience.

Some visionaries boast that online video viewing will quickly eliminate conventional TV broadcasts as rapidly as information gathering on the Internet killed print media as the number one source of information. This has already proven true with the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Polls report teenagers, as a group, are not watching the Olympics on television. Their preference is online video streaming of winning highlights that cut through the real-time clutter. This information is crucial for future marketing campaigns targeting this current attention deficient generation who is unwilling to wait for information.

Despite these reports, the “ancient” forms of communications, news, and entertainment are still important in building brand awareness. Firms that choose one form of marketing strategies over the other don’t understand or acknowledge the dynamics of traditional media and how it integrates with new media marketing.Tool

Media synergy is important when creating an effective marketing plan.

Three media formats are better than two, and two media formats are better than one.

The combination of printed marketing materials and an information website has more clout than each standing alone. Adding a third venue, such as video to your website and social networks attract, even more, attention and intensify marketing efforts.

Offline media often performs better than online media. Including an URL address in printed marketing materials significantly increases web visits.

Each medium influences online behavior differently and plays a distinctive role. “Qualified” niche (orthodontics) visitor search results are quite different than “total” generalized (dentistry) search results.

Understanding the differences and applying the correct online tactics will make the difference between and effective or ineffective online marketing campaign.

You Only Have Seconds To Make A good Impression

Ads and printed marketing materials may get consumers to your website to learn more about your services, but once there.. you must sustain their attention. Why? Their next stop in the research process is to surf the web learning more about other treatment providers in the area. Use any search engine to research your keyword and numerous online social media references appear …instantly! Visitors need a reason to remember your name and continue further on your website before moving on to the next option. Since few professional practices are adding video to their website, it is a great opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition.

More and more, when consumers are considering the purchase of a product or service they will ask not only friends and family, they will research online for support issues and problem resolution. Consumers are aware there will be issues and problems. The deciding factor is how the company addresses and resolves the issue for the customer.

    Statistics report:

74% choose companies/brands based on others’ customer care experiences shared online (testimonials)

72% research companies’ customer care online prior to purchasing products and services at least sometimes (testimonials)

84% consider the quality of customer care at least sometimes in their decision to do business with a company (testimonials)

81% say blogs, online rating systems, and discussion forums can give consumers a greater voice regarding customer care, but less than 33% say they believe that businesses take customers’ opinions seriously (surveys)

Listen..Respond..ImproveThe greatest hurdle for most businesses is listening, responding (appropriately) and improving products and services once feedback is given. Visitors may like your marketing information but they make their purchasing decisions based on peers.

Videos and information content may attract consumers. However, when push comes to shove, today’s skeptical society has a tendency to rely on the experiences of others they trust before making a purchasing decision.

To paraphrase advertising guru David Ogilvy, “Advertising lights the fire, public relations fans the flame and website/video/social media whip it into a firestorm!”

Ignoring the influences of social media you can’t control is unwise. The key to survival today is listen…respond…improve. Web 2.0 marketing is very effective at reaching a specific target market you can’t reach as effectively with traditional marketing strategies. Unfortunately, consumers also have the ability to reach out to the competition also. Online marketing levels the playing field for practices large or small, unseasoned or experienced. Riding the fence or procrastinating is no longer an option if you want to compete in today’s competitive market and build the foundation for future growth.

Mary Kay Miller is an owner of Orthopreneur Marketing Solutions and the author of the first multi-media marketing eGuide for orthodontic and dental professionals, “Marketing Your Practice Through Different Eyes”. You can download her FREE ebook at

In today’s tech-savvy society, the “Rules of Marketing” have changed forever with the advent of the Internet and Social Networking. Unfortunately, most professional practices have not yet recognized the importance of updating their marketing plans to meet the preferences of their current target audience; GenX, GenY, and Global Tweens. Succeeding in any business environment today requires grabbing the attention of the most entrepreneurial and tech-friendly generations in history. They are also the most overstressed and distracted demographics to date. Failing to understand and develop marketing strategies and tactics that appeal to these generations in their personal style, both in learning and information gathering, may prove disastrous to many practices down the road.