We’ve been brainwashed by people around us who insist it’s CRITICAL to have a nice website with tons of information, that the website should be optimized for all the search engines and that we should ‘be on Facebook’ to market ourselves. On top of that, it seems we should start selling things on our websites, and make a commission on products sold through our ‘online store’.but
All this ‘website stuff’ that we are sold on and told to do, it’s not logical persuasion about the what and the why of websites, but rather a constant drilling and reinforcement of the benefits of ‘online marketing’.
The mission is to make you ‘compliant’ with the internet era, to make you believe that a website is the answer to all your prayers. You are gently nudged into a sense of belief that ‘a nice website’ is a safe and easy way for you to get noticed and bring in a flood of new patients.
Now, it’s entirely possible that your website ALONE can be the source of referrals for your clinic, and that your website may be the single best marketing decision you ever make.
But I don’t believe it.
Don’t get me wrong, everything I just mentioned has a place.. somewhere deep down the ladder of priorities for a busy private practice owner.
Here’s what most online marketing experts won’t tell you:
- A ‘static’ website, that just sits on the internet, will RARELY rank in the search engines unless there are regular, original content updates posted to the site (which you are responsible for)
- ‘Original’ content updates implies that the content should NOT be duplicated elsewhere on the internet, which is frowned upon by the search engines. (beware when you are sold another ‘encyclopedia’ website with tons of articles for patients. Besides the fact that most patients won’t read the articles, the duplicate content is damaging to your online reputation with the search engines). If you have a website that has the same content as numerous other sites, the search engines perceive this as ‘content duplication’ and will punish your website with poor search engine rankings.
- Most of your patients have a Facebook account, but demographically, it’s likely they spend very little time (if any at all) reading your updates on Facebook unlike what you are led to believe. Even if they are, Facebook is primarily a non-business platform. People are on Facebook to interact with others, not be marketed too. It’s easy to goof up Facebook marketing, unless you are posting messages frequently, sharing things about your life, constantly engaging your audience with attractive offers and being ‘out there’. You may or may not feel comfortable doing this.
- You do not need to rank at the top of all the search engines. Google is the only one that really matters since it gathers over 70% of all search traffic. On top of that, Google Local is the only listing that matters to brick and mortar business, and I provide FREE training on how to get your clinic to rank at the top of Google Local here.
- Selling things on your website is like picking up pennies while neglecting the gold coins sitting right under your nose. Why make a few dollars asking patients to visit your website to buy stuff, when you could use the same (limited) attention span from patients to generate more referrals, convert them into cash paying program clients or create connections with their doctors (which is invaluable). It’s a matter of priorities.
It’s like the wild wild west out there, and as private practice owners, the common questions are:
- How much information (and what kind of information) should be on my website?
- Should I optimize my website for the search engines?
- Should I market my practice on Facebook?
When someone asks me these questions during a strategy call, the response from my business advisers is:
“I appreciate your enthusiasm, but these are the wrong questions to ask, because online marketing is ONE TYPE of marketing. It should be lower down your to-do list. It should, in fact, be number three or four in the list of priorities for most private practices”.
Unfortunately, most ‘website providers’ prey on the uninformed, who spend several hundred, or thousands of dollars on websites, when that effort could have been redirected towards answers to BIGGER questions that can make or break a practice. These questions are:
If you don’t have the answers to these questions dialed in (which is exactly what I help my clients with during a strategy call), spending time and money on a website is like buying icing for your home made cake.
Except no one ever showed you how to bake.
As private practice owners, we tend to look for the ‘magic pill’ that will bring us a flood of referrals and recognition. Having a website seems like a quick and easy way to make yourself visible.
Don’t get me wrong, a patient-action oriented website is important, but if it exists as a crutch for a fractured system, it’s doing more harm than good, because it prevents you from addressing the IMPORTANT issues that can help you grow your clinic.
- The ability to leverage different modes of communication – email, direct mail, text messaging and phone work best for patients. Faxes and phone call follow ups work best with doctors.
- Systems to communicate with past, present and prospective patients on a consistent basis. A regular, content rich physical therapy newsletter for doctors and patients in print, email, video and faxed format will do more for your clinic than a boring, static website ever will. Therapy Newsletter is the most advanced patient generation technology on the planet and should be your PRIMARY marketing weapon. This is a very different approach from half-baked copycat online packages, outdated ‘encyclopedia’ websites and a ‘me too’ newsletter that is poorly written and lacks a ‘call to action’, multi mode delivery, 99% email delivery rate, customizable content, done-for-you ebooks you can brand with your clinic name, birthday reminders and email autoresponder sequences. In fact, at Therapy Newsletter, we offer a FREE website design upgrade for newsletter clients, because a website should be an adjunct to a terrific newsletter, not the other way around. (At my company, we put our money where our mouth is. Plus, I don’t believe our clients should have to waste any money or continue to pay expensive monthly hosting fees on their existing websites)
- Maximum leverage of existing referral sources with strategic conditioning campaigns.
- Once all this is dialed in, it’s then and only then that you want to hire a top notch physical therapy website designer, who provides you a fast turnaround time, low rates and a money back guarantee. If you are designing your website from scratch, then I strongly recommend Instant Private Practice Site since they have built website for most of my clients.
Let’s focus on the things that really matter, and put website marketing at number three or four in our list, after the CRITICAL systems are dialed in.
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