The Internet world of Social Networking, You Tube, My Space, and Web 2.0 are the “New Frontier” in PR marketing for orthodontic and professional practices. Marketing savvy professionals that are willing to venture outside their comfort zone and embrace the new age of online marketing for small businesses, will lead the way, guaranteeing their future positioning in online marketing.

Knowing how to correctly combine online and offline marketing strategies to effectively market your practice to the current tech savvy generations, requires a synergy of marketing modalities. Capturing the attention of the most entrepreneurial, overstressed and skeptical generations to date, requires a new way of thinking on the part of professionals practices.

GenX, GenY, and Global Tweens are flocking to Web 2.0 locations where they:

* Blog and leave comments; voice their opinions good and bad

* Listen to audios and watch videos on specific content of interest to them

* Research on business/special interest web sites to gain information

* Are entertained

* Communicate with each other in social communities such as My Space, Facebook etc.

There isn’t a subject or idea that doesn’t have an online community where people share information, ideas, news and thoughts. The goal of web 2.0 marketing is to embrace this type of information gathering and proactively join in to increase patient awareness of your practice and services.

Your Digital Fingerprint

Internet marketing is “evergreen”, leaving a digital fingerprint of who you are and what your practice is all about. Taking marketing responsibility of your business with the latest in Web 2.0 marketing tactics, is the preferred communication tool of tech savvy generations when gathering information. Failing to understand this new phenomenon may prove disastrous for those unwilling to update their marketing strategies.

Once on the web, your message is broadcast to the world. Attracting and maintaining attention once visitors click on your site is what Web 2.0 is all about. Companies of all shapes, sizes, product/service categories will drop an estimated $1.4 billion on social media advertising this year alone. By 2012 the investment should double. Online marketing is the most direct means of reaching patients interested in your treatment services. Old traditional marketing methods no longer cut it. Melding successful marketing tactics that include word of mouth marketing with online digital technology is a winning combination. It is also the most direct and cost-effective means of educating potential patients.

The challenge for marketers is understanding what social media is, how it works/interacts, which avenue(s) do you use, how do you measure social media results…and what are the obstacles.

Social media:

is all about people and building relationships, sharing opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives with others
can generate effective viral word of mouth for your treatment services
is an arena dominated by early adopters (revolutionaries) willing to lead the way for others through the new Internet frontier
will become increasingly significant in influencing how other practices follow the “Internet Cowboys” who lead online marketing tactics in orthodontics
provides a unique opportunity to connect with referring professionals and patients to gain feedback and provide content rich information.
The demand, the interest, and the need for social networking is growing in leaps and bounds. The Internet is no longer the future of marketing… it is NOW. However, the window of opportunity to take advantage of positioning is limited. Savvy online marketers implementing successful marketing strategies to stake their claim in online marketing real-estate today, will be tough to unseat with the current rules of online social networking, tomorrow. It is forecast that Internet traffic will quadruple by 2010. The ability to understand and engage your target market with the rules of online marketing is critical to the future growth of your practice.

If you think email is overpowering you, it is inconsequential compared to the volume of content that is being streamed, pushed and pulled across the Internet.

Business As Usual Has Changed

The dynamics of business as usual have changed dramatically – internally and externally. Practices no longer have control over what is being said online. It is an open forum for consumers on Google maps, online yellow pages, and other information and social network sites. Once added, only the author can delete their personal comment, both good and bad. Positive comments are always an asset. However, disgruntled patients now have a new venue to blow of steam, justified or not, that can deter future referrals and adversely affect your practice. Monitoring online comments, good customer service and positive treatment experiences are more important than ever before.

Perspective patients move in/out of professional websites day in and day out when researching treatment providers. Without a website, you are off the radar with today’s tech savvy generations. You may as well be invisible. Social networking and Web 2.0 is forcing business to rethink and update their marketing information methods.

The proponents of online marketing claim unbridled marketing success. However, it is difficult to precisely pinpoint the value and ROI in traditional metrics. It is impossible to find the beginning and end points of an online program, especially when your have no control over consumer feedback.