In a smaller town or suburban centre, it can be fairly easy to dominate your market on Google, simply because the competition is so low. Your healthcare site can pick up top-5 search engine rankings without even working for them. And if you like, you can increase your exposure with AdWords and Facebook Ads.
But what do you do when you already have visibility, but you’re still not onboarding enough new patients or building your customer base, even as the biggest fish in a small pond?
1. You could settle for the business volume you have. If you’re the town's optometrist or health food store, there are only so many people who will think about contact lenses or picking up a CoQ10 supplement on any given day. If it pays the bills, maybe you could resign yourself to living on that.
2. Another approach is to target other neighbouring communities or the nearest city. (And we have some effective strategies for doing just that.) If you’re a podiatrist, there are only so many people with foot and ankle conditions. If you want more business, you may have to expand into someone else’s backyard.
3. Or, you could expand your local client base in your home town. Let’s say you’re a small-town dentist. At some point, most of the residents have addressed any pressing decay and abscesses; the critical fillings and root canals have been dealt with. But there's a wide range of cosmetic treatments that could be offered while waiting for patients to think of you. Let's see, there are teeth cleaning and whitening, ageing crowns and bridges, chipped and cracked teeth, discoloration, gaps between the teeth, gummy smiles, missing teeth, receding gums, metal fillings to replace, worn or damaged teeth... more than enough work to triple your business this year.
Search marketing is effective only when your target audience is motivated to conduct a search. It’s like the old Yellow Pages book everyone once had beside the phone. You have to wait for people to develop a physical condition and think of you.
We have to wait for John to develop kidney stones, Becky to chip her tooth, Jeremy to twist his ankle on the soccer field and Sherry to decide she'd like to try a glucosamine supplement for her arthritis.
On the day a health event triggers the thought in your customer’s mind, there’s nothing like top search engine rankings and paid search. Cha-ching. You should definitely optimize your website and pursue top rankings.
But to expand your customer base you will also have to find a way to become top of mind to all the people who aren’t normally thinking about you and what you offer.
When I was a boy, I would dig up some worms in Mom’s garden, pack up my fishing rod and head to Mill Lake, plop my hook in the water and watch the bobber. I’d wait… and wait… and wait… Most days I’d skunk. Search marketing can often be just like that. Crickets...
In 1993 I watched A River Runs Through It and was inspired by the Maclean brothers’ active approach to fishing. There was an active strategy behind it.
These anglers studied the fish species and examined the hatch, to see what the fish were feeding on. They spent a day hand-tying flies. Then they brought a selection of flies in their box and chose one of the same size and colour as the ones the fish were biting. A notebook in the fishing vest held a log of the pools in the river that had produced fish in the past.
They carefully presented the fly, drifting it without any drag, through the pool the fish were holding in. With skill and persistence, and a bit of experimentation, a fish would eventually rise to take the fly, and the battle began. After expertly playing the fish, it would finally be placed gently in the wicker creel.
Wow, this was way more effective than watching a bobber all day! I never used the passive approach to fishing again.
Every day, countless thousands of medical and health website owners check their website traffic stats several times. Grrr! Why are there no emails or calls from new patients or e-commerce customers? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be a waiting game.
Content marketing is just like fly fishing. We carefully study our ideal patient or buyer. We find out what they’re interested in and where they hang out on the web. And then we craft content just for them. We become involved in the places we know they’re hanging out. We present our content and engage with our audience.
Tantalizing health information and new ideas draw them to our blog and tempt them into giving us their contact information on our landing pages, with free ebooks or white papers they can't wait to download.
We reel them in by providing brilliant content by email, nurturing our leads until they become patients and customers.
Your website should be your #1 salesperson. If that's not happening, your content and copy are broken (or missing).
If you’re tired of waiting for people to think of you, why not reach out to them through content?
Cole Wiebe is a direct response health copywriter, content strategist and writer, and online marketing coach. He is also a UX (user experience) web designer and developer of over 23 years.