When most people think of a company using social media to communicate with customers, they think that a blog is the first place to start. This may be the case, but you should really have an experience professional who understands the various tools and the way they should be implemented. Dr. Alan Glazier, a successful optometrist who specializes in Lasik surgery (lasers that correct your bad eyesight) was looking to overhaul his web site and communicate with those thinking about getting Lasik done. He loves blogging and actually has a personal one dedicated to music, but to implement it in his business, he looked to a seasoned social media professional to lend a hand.
Enter Larry Genkin. Larry is CEO of Larstan Publishing, most known for publishing “Blogger and Podcaster Magazine” and the “Black Book of …” series of books. Larstan is not just a publishing company but also has a consulting arm that builds web sites and incorporates social media strategy into their overall online presence. I was able to sit down with both client and consultant and talk about the process of overhauling a successful small business site that has traditionally worked in the past more on referral than on a full court-press web site promotion. This is part two of a two part article. Here is the transcript of that interview:
Steve: Since you really need to draw people in, what are your plans for getting people to the site through search engines and paid advertising?
Larry: In many ways Dr. Glazier makes my job easier because of his level of expertise and communication skills. Old school marketing is where you use the media to put your ad message in front of prospects. What I do with my clients is turn them into the media. Dr. Glazier will take his expertise and use it to educate others through podcast radio and tv shows, ebooks, special reports and the like. He won’t need to “rent” the media to promote his practice…he’ll BE the media. Not only does this more thoughtful approach generate more leads, it results in higher closing percentages at premium pricing levels. Marketing through building trust and credibility is very powerful.
Steve: What do you plan to implement to convert them from prospect to customer when you might only have one chance when they find the web site?
Larry: The most important thing at the outset is custom landing pages. Every ad will have it’s own landing page that will deliver precisely on the value proposition promoted in Dr. Glazier’s marketing. Next is lead capture. Right now when people visit the site they can browse around and Dr. Glazier has no idea who they are. We need to change that. We’ll offer up free resources for people to access, in exchange for giving us their contact information and permission to contact them. This way, even if we don’t sell them right away, we’ll have permission to build a relationship that will win them over, over time.
Steve: Since this is a type of business where you get one time customers for Lasik, how do you convert them to regular annual long term customers?
Dr. Glazier: Steve, happy lasik patients are patients for life. They refer friends and family, and we instill in them the importance of annual eye health check-ups – just because you can see doesn’t mean the eye is healthy. I prefer in the article you use the word “patients” instead of customers. Offering LASIK sets our practice apart from other practices and staying on top of the technical know how also sets us apart. Many patients curious about lasik turn out not to be candidates and continue to seek our expertise in glasses, contact lenses and a new exciting non-surgical alternative to lasik called OrthoK.
Larry: You really have to look at the lifetime value of the customer. Lasik is only one of the services Dr. Glazier’s practice offers, so a satisfied Lasik customer will likely be a regular customer. And, because Lasik is such a powerful, yet scary, technology, when a client is successful with Lasik the word of mouth marketing leads to significant additional business.
Steve: This one is for Larry. What are the Top 5 things small businesses should implement on their web site to make it more appealing to potential customers and make it easier to find through a search engine?
1) A Blog – Search engines love them. If you want to learn about this you can get a free subscription to Blogger & Podcaster Magazine at www.bloggerandpodcaster.com/subscribe.php;
2) More Pages w/Less Copy – Don’t make your prospects work to do business with you;
3) Educational Content – Show off your expertise with original content, this is the number one thing you can do to attract search engines;
4) Lead Capture – Offer free resources in exchange for contact information. Compel everyone to want to tell you who they are so you can build a relationship with them;
5) Cross Promotion – Find partners and link/promote each other. Inbound links score well with the search engines and the 3rd party endorsements are a powerful trust builder with potential customers.
Steve: To close our interview I would like to get a sense from both of you what your goals are for the web site going forward?
Dr. Glazier: To be a virtual practice where services that can be offered after hours are, patients can order new contact lenses, set up appointments and interact with the staff as needed. To stand out among the many eye care practices in our area. To offer the highest level in customer service and care outside of excellent doctoring. To stay ontop of technology and maintain our reputation as a practice on the cutting edge.
Larry: I want Dr. Glazier’s site and marketing program to be effective at allowing him to expand his business as he desires. This means creating a reliable system to result in sales. The main components of this program are: 1) effective lead generation; 2) effective lead conversion; 3) Continuity marketing program that turns prospects into customers over time. When we do this the website turns from an expense into the businesses revenue generation engine.