Doctors.. Give Your Online Video the “Wow Factor”

In a recent post I presented 5 Tips on Using Online Video to Grow Your Practice that focused on creating content that is relevant and engaging to your audience.  While engaging content is certainly important to any business or corporate video, if it was poorly produced by your cousin’s best friend who happens to own a video camera, this sub-par video will be a poor reflection of your practice.

For some tips on production and presentation I reached out to Craig Bass, owner of Motion Source, a Chicago-based video production company that specializes in internet video production.  In terms of actually producing a video, Craig’s advice is always to go to the professionals.  “A bad video makes a business look worse than no video at all.  Video is all around us, it saturates our society, and we know a bad video when we see one.  The perception is: bad video bad business.  I would suggest not even having a video produced unless it is tackled by someone who knows what they are doing”.

In terms of pricing for a video, it depends on a number of factors.  A video produced by a professional video production company could run several thousand dollars.  You could always find a cheaper option, like going to Craigslist and finding a student or freelancer, but they generally do not have the breadth of equipment, knowledge, and support system  to turn out a video that is going  to be as good as if a professional company did it.

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10 Reasons Not to Use Social Media

Social media marketing for business is not for everyone.  The process of conveying your brand message to your audience presents both challenges and opportunities.  The philosophy that I will use social media because everyone else is using it does not make a strong case for the use of your time or marketing dollars. The fact that everyone else is doing it might even make a case for not doing it.  What does make a good case is using social media to promote your brand, boost your marketing efforts, and respond to what your customers (patients) are saying about you.

In Jeff Bullas’s blog (aptly titled Jeffbullas’s Blog) he takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to listing 20 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Social Media.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. You don’t want to be found
  2. You don’t want to be heardContinue reading

Are We on the Brink of a Mobile Healthcare Revolution?

As healthcare costs continue to rise, mobile health apps are steadily becoming more mainstream.  Patients are now able to view lab results, diagnostic details, refill prescriptions and get follow-up reminders…all from their smartphone.  Juniper Research reported that 3 million people will be monitored by mobile networks by the year 2016.  Using the smartphone as a hub, this allows for lower health care costs and reduces the need for costly, tailored devices.  The report also states Mobile Healthcare and medical app downloads will reach 44 million in 2012, rising to 142 million in 2016.

Using only a camera-equipped smartphone and an inexpensive eyepiece attachment, MIT Media Lab has developed a revolutionary eye-testing system that allows people in any region of the world to receive cheap, affordable eye exams.  The hardware and mobile app can be purchased for as little as $2.  Currently, the apps can measure refractive error and test for the presence of cataracts, the leading cause of blindness in the developing world.

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5 Tips on Using Online Video to Grow Your Practice

Looking for a new way to build awareness for your practice?  If and when you decide to use online video to promote your products or services, here are a few tips to help you get started.

  1. It’s the visuals that people remember.  While you will likely prepare a script before making a video (or at least have something rehearsed), it’s typically what’s seen and not what’s heard that people remember.
  2. Show patients what you do best.  With the above in mind, demonstrate to your patients how you can solve their problems.  Demonstrate punctual plug insertion on a staff member, vision therapy exercises on a child, etc.  Video is a great way to appeal visually and emotionally to the demands of your patient base.Continue reading

What is the “Social” Benefit of Social Media?

Perhaps you now have a professional Facebook page, Twitter account, and you even registered your business on Yelp.   When done right, social media can offer a boost to your marketing efforts, but simply having a social media presence does not necessarily provide that boost.  The “social” benefit of social media isn’t about the content itself; it is about the conversations that result from the experiences you provide.

So how do we leverage the benefits of social media in our practices?  Let’s first consider where social media has the greatest impact on marketing.  In marketing terms, the purchase funnel is comprised of 3 categories: awareness, consideration and point-of-sale.  For the past 50 years, traditional media (radio, tv, etc.) has primarily focused on awareness and the effect it has at driving consumer demand toward the point-of-sale.  The consideration phase – in the middle of the purchase funnel – turns out to be the central link between the Social Web and Marketing.  The consideration phase is where consumers seek (and find) validation before making a purchase.  This is where conversations between consumers based on experiences carry greater trust than the traditional media.

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10 Ways to Use QR Codes to Promote Your Practice

I have to admit, up until recently I looked at QR codes like a caveman staring at an expense report.  Not realizing I needed a QR reader, my first crack at QR codes involved me taking a picture of one with my iPhone.  As I stared at my phone waiting for awesomeness to happen, I eventually walked away in shamed disappointment (although I now have a nice pic of a QR code on my camera roll).  Now that I’m a few months older and wiser, I realize these strange little images are actually pretty cool (and may add some value to our practices).

QR codes (also known as 2-D codes) are similar to traditional barcodes but can provide greater amounts of information in the smallest of spaces.  Any phone equipped with a camera and barcode reader can scan a QR code.  When scanned, QR codes can display text, contact information or web content.  Customers simply point their phone at the QR code, scan, and immediately the offline experience becomes an online experience.  Of course, it’s what happens after the code is scanned that makes QR codes an engaging marketing tool.

10 ways to promote your practice with QR codes:

  1. Business cards – add QR codes to the back of your business card – scan code to receive an appointment reminder
  2. Website – scan to receive a discount on your next eye examContinue reading

3 Elements of an Effective Marketing Strategy

For the most part, consumers hate advertisements.  There’s a reason we change the television channel or radio station when a commercial comes on.  There’s a reason pop-up blockers and spam filters exist.  There’s a reason everybody and their grandma has registered for the do-not-call registry.  Now there’s many ‘free’ smartphone apps that will charge a fee to provide the game or service free of all ads.  People actually pay to NOT receive ads!  Could there be a stronger indictment against traditional marketing?

So how can we design a marketing strategy that overcomes consumer’s natural aversion to traditional marketing?  For starters, let’s consider that consumers really don’t hate all advertisements, they just hate interruptive ads.  In fact, under the right circumstances consumers actually welcome marketing messages.  3 elements to consider in your marketing efforts are value, relevance, and timeliness.

#1: Value

I suppose it goes without saying, but your marketing message must provide value to your audience to be effective.  The problem is our audience is made up of different people with different needs and values, yet often times we offer the same coupon or promotion to everyone.  To make your marketing more all-encompassing, implement marketing strategies that target the individual needs and buying habits of your patients.

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Your Patients are Mobile…is Your Website?

Are your patients trying to view your full website on their mobile handset? The traditional internet was meant to be viewed on a large screen, while sitting and having plenty of time to consume.  Due to the aggressive growth and consumer adoption of mobile-enabled devices, particularly smartphones, consumers are increasingly accessing the internet on-the-go.  Even a well-designed website can lead to a horrible user experience if the site hasn’t been set up with mobile handsets in mind.

Many mobile users depend on their mobile device to find local information, such as office hours, directions, and contact info.  As opposed to the PC optimized Web that tends to be hard to view on a mobile device, mobile websites are designed for the small screens of mobile phones and devices.

 Benefits of a mobile-friendly website

  • Stripped down content that’s easy to consume
  • Small size graphics that don’t take a long time to download
  • Include calls to action that work well on mobile (click to call, instant directions, request an appointment, etc.)
  • Integrate social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube
  • Higher rankings in search engines – mobile websites are getting priority in mobile search
  • Higher speed – normal websites tend to be very slow and cluttered.  Mobile sites with less graphics can open faster

According to Nielson, 45% of mobile phone users now have a smartphone (this was 18% two years ago).  One in four Americans now access the internet only via mobile, and 75% of people will leave a site if it doesn’t load in 5 seconds or less.   The path for a website used to be quite clear: establish a presence on the Web first, then come up with a mobile version.  As the momentum shifts to mobile from computers, it may be time to rethink the old rules.  Consider offering a mobile-optimized website that makes it easy for your patients to access your content and information on their mobile device.

Steven Vargo, OD, MBA frequently writes and lectures on patient communication and marketing.  Dr. Vargo is the founder of iMobile Communications.  He can be contacted at

Add ‘Mobile’ to your Marketing Mix

If your idea of mobile marketing is driving around town with a loud speaker yelling “kids frames half off”, then please read on.  Mobile marketing describes marketing on or with a mobile device, such as a cell phone using SMS Marketing.  The Mobile Marketing Association defines mobile marketing as follows:

Mobile Marketing is a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.

From a business and marketing standpoint, the current trends in mobile are worthy of our attention.  Mobile cell phones have become the epicenter of all digital convergence – fixed telecoms, the internet, banking, social networks, and even advertising are all migrating to mobile. While rival technologies such as internet and PC roughly doubled in size over the past decade, mobile phone subscriptions grew 10-fold.  Mobile phones are now the most widely owned and used technology in the world.  Over half the population of the planet has a mobile phone, and most users carry their phones with them at all times.  Christian Lindholm, the ex Nokia mobile design guru and author, likes to say: “Anything that can be mobile, will be mobile.”

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Social Media and ‘The Ultimate Question’

18853301_sIf there was one question you could have answered that would create a basis for success not only on the Social Web but in business as well,what would that question be?   The Net Promoter Score, developed by Fred Reichheld, is based on one simple question:  “How likely is it that you would recommend [our company, product, etc.] to a friend?” When quantified, this becomes a fundamentally important metric that is central to the successful implementation of social media.

The role of a customer recommendation is central to the success of a product or service.  Evangelism, which is often the result of an emotional and experiential driven attachment to a brand, is the key to long-term growth.  Conversely, products or services that fail to delight the customer threaten the long-term viability of a business.

Is your practice encouraging evangelism?  The combination of word-of-mouth and digital content on the Social Web are driven by the experience.  While you can control your marketing messages, you cannot control the social conversations that are taking place.  An experience of delight is the only way to positively influence on the Social Web.

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