Professional services internet marketing may sound technologically
intimidating, but it is simply means the way that you present yourself
and your practice online.
The internet, at its most basic, is simply a means of communication. Therefore, it is one of many methods for connecting with your clients or patients. In fact, there is a growing population that you will not be able to reach in any other way because they are removing themselves from the traditional means of communication (which are also being transformed by the internet).
As print publishing adapts into blogging, website publishing and
direct-to-the-individual (RSS) news feeds, the public relations
profession, whose core purpose is communication, has also been
transformed. New communication methods are being created, including
instant messaging, website comments, group forums and the ever-evolving
social media, and I’m sure we have not seen the end of new product
creation in the communications field.
So what does all of this mean for the professional in private practice? The best way to look at it is as a great opportunity. You have more ways you can communicate with your desired audience, most of them are free of direct costs and you don’t need to depend on an intermediary who can block publication of your information. The key is to retain the benefits of third-party endorsement while increasing the ability to communicate your own message directly with your desired audience.
Internet marketing, also known as e-marketing, is the marketing of services or products through websites, mobile phone devices or email. Many people are successfully supporting themselves by working at home and marketing both information and products across the entire globe. Internet marketing has enabled small businesses, including professional practices, to sell their services and products more efficiently to local markets, as well as broaden their markets into larger regions. Although keeping to our commitment to KISS (Keeping It Simple, Silly), I want to provide some basic information about how professional services internet marketing can be used to help you position yourself as an expert in your field and meet your practice marketing goals.
What, then, are some of the possibilities for incorporating professional services internet marketing into a local private practice marketing program?
One question you may have is whether a professional practice website is
necessary. Many professionals think a website is inappropriate for them
because the web has such wide international reach and they only want to
attract business from their local communities. However, this has changed
dramatically in the past couple of years as search engines have become
very adept at directing traffic to local sites. Most residents of your
community now know to add the name of their city when they search for a
A professional practice website will help both existing and prospective clients in your local area to find you and perhaps come into your office better prepared, thus taking less of your time. It is a great way to educate your existing clients or patients, as well as being a platform for selling products that relate to your profession, such as vitamins, books, etc. There are also a few website hosts that simplify your practice website building or even do it for you.
Another professional services internet marketing method is the use of an electronic practice marketing newsletter.
Electronic newsletters are just like printed newsletters except they are more affordable to send, require less content, can use online design templates (no graphic designer needed) and can be sent to your entire mailing list through an online distribution and tracking service without mailing costs.
You have probably heard a lot about blogs and may even read them yourself in your spare time. Practice marketing blogs can be a great way to communicate with existing clients or patients and to build your reputation with potential patients or clients in your local area. They don’t have to be complicated or overwhelming to maintain; even short entries can make a big impact when posted with regularity. Some website hosts even give you the ability to turn your website page updates into an automatic blog that you don’t need to maintain yourself.
Another opportunity to use internet marketing to build your private practice is through experts article marketing, a form of bylined article for online publications that allows you to position yourself as an expert in your field and target your message to a specific niche audience.
A webinar is a conference (usually some kind of training) that you conduct from your office or home computer. Private practice webinars might include presentations, lectures, workshops or seminars, all transmitted over the internet. Private practice webinars are growing in popularity among professionals because they are easy to create, are inexpensive and can connect you with patients or potential clients anywhere in the world from the comfort of your computer. Consider adding a quarterly webinar presentation to your professional services internet marketing plan.
Social media has forever changed the way we communicate and conduct business. The opportunity to connect directly with clients in an authentic, unobtrusive way has never been easier or as cost-effective. With free services like Facebook and other social media for professionals, your private practice can have a dynamic presence complete with fascinating articles, photos and even videos that your clients will love. Then, they comment on them and hopefully share them with their friends, and their friends share with their friends, and so on. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Yelp enable ideas and messages to spread rapidly, ‘going viral’ and creating huge impact, whether across your local community or throughout the world. Referral marketing for professionals provides more information about the interconnections and distinctions between internet marketing and referral marketing.
Here are some ideas for a professional services internet marketing plan. Although this would be a very aggressive program, depending on the size of your practice you may choose to do only a few of these or to do them less frequently than this. Many of them, once established, could also be easily maintained by an administrative staff member.
When used strategically to specifically increase your referrals and position yourself as an expert in your field, professional services internet marketing can be a very valuable, cost-effective tool.