…And why I never want to build a website for my mother
I was having lunch yesterday with my parents, a rare moment of hanging out without the wife and kids around. My father mentioned that he and my mom were going to drive out to California in their R.V. to get the roof refinished. He explained that their process was different from many manufacturers and that they offered a 10-year warranty.
It surprised me that my dad would travel hundreds of miles to have his R.V. serviced. To him, the different roofing sealant and process along with the warranty were worth the road trip even though they charged $60/hour for their work. My mother chimed in about how this was ridiculously expensive and, “How do we know that they’re actually working the entire time?”
I countered, “You have to go someplace where you trust the business.”
“I don’t trust anyone,” she said with an ornery scowl.
“Well, then you have to do it yourself,” I declared, satisfied that I won this battle of stubborn wit.
Trust Is Essential For Business
The conversation turned to dentistry when my father mentioned that he was going to have to have a root canal redone for the third time. This brought a frustrated look to my mother’s face. She was frustrated that my father was going to have to pay for a third root canal and suggested that the dentist should offer some sort of warranty on that tooth; that once you have a tooth worked on, you shouldn’t have to worry about it for at least a few years.
I explained to her things just go wrong with teeth sometimes and it rarely has anything to do with the dentist’s work. There again, my mother displayed an annoyed scowl that I know stemmed from a reluctance to take anyone’s word that a problem couldn’t be avoided. She just has a hard time trusting anyone when it comes to any sort of service, it seems.
It’s the lack of trust that makes me never want to build a website for my mother- not that she’ll ever need one. I’m sure that she would trust me to do a good job right up until she ran into something that she didn’t fully understand or that I said was outside of our control.
DIY Marketing Isn’t the Solution
When it comes to building a website, doing it yourself is a waste of your time. I read an article recently by a dentist who writes his own blog posts on an ongoing basis and asserted that dentists should never allow content to be posted to their websites that they hadn’t fully read and signed off on, especially if the content is being presented as authored by the dentist like so many blogs do.
I agree that someone at the dental office needs to know what information is available on the practice’s website. There is always room for error, especially if the company writing the content doesn’t specialize in dental websites, and it’s good for a practice to check the accuracy of the work.
Having said that, writing the content yourself is hardly necessary and really isn’t the best use of the dentist’s time. It’s not necessarily going to reduce the rate of errors. Even if a dentist is a gifted writer–and, let’s face it, few of us are–adding the burden of writing to a dentist’s plate can make an already crowded schedule even more harried. When dentists rush through content because they have limited time, they are more likely to make mistakes. Who is checking the dentist’s work, anyway? The odds of having two gifted writers in a practice is really slight, and when you add in the restriction that the second writer has to be willing and able to stand up to the dentist when they make a mistake, we’re getting to a very small number of practices that can reliably produce quality content regularly.
Lack Of Trust Gets in the Way of Results
I doubt many dentists would argue with me that they should be writing all their content, but I encounter offices from time to time who tell me that they have been burdened with the challenge of reviewing and even rewriting page after page of website content or every blog post that the company generates. When I hear this scenario, I have a hard time believing that this is a productive way of running the marketing campaign and I believe a change is in order.
When an office manager or dentist feels the need to edit every document that is destined to be published on the internet, there is a trust problem. Again, by all means, they should review the content, but editing every document means that either:
- The company providing the content is incompetent when it comes to copywriting. The company never earned trust.
- The dental marketing company has made mistakes in the past that the practice manager has not been able to move beyond. This broke trust.
- The practice manager believes that it is his/her duty to make every post into their own piece of work. Trust is not available or offered.
- The practice manager believes that patients will view the practice website with as much scrutiny as he or she will. Trusting someone else to do it is considered foolish.
None of these scenarios is ideal for an effective online marketing strategy. You as the dentist always have something more productive to do with your time than writing Web content. Now, if you enjoy writing as the author of the article that I read obviously does, that’s another story, but most of the offices I speak with who are in these predicaments aren’t happy. They feel put-upon.
Perfection is Unachievable
The truth is that your website will not be perfect no matter what you do. Any writer will tell you no piece of writing ever is. Ask any writer about their bestselling books, and they’ll tell you a few of their own. Unlike a bestselling book, likely, no one will ever appreciate any tweaks you make to the website. Out of the thousands of people who will look at your website, the vast majority are not prospective patients. Prospective patients are local people looking for a specific service. This means that they will generally visit one or two pages of your website; three if you’re lucky.
Many people won’t visit your website at all, calling after finding your practice’s phone number on Google or Yelp. These people probably don’t even know what number they are dialing. They just click a handset-shaped button in the Google results. For these people, the only role your content played was in showing Google that your website was a reliable source of fresh information for other people, satisfying just one of the hundreds of ranking criteria.
Is Your Content Competent?
This fresh and reliable content piece is important, even if it is unlikely to be scrutinized by every visitor to your website. If your web marketing company isn’t competent enough to write decent content, then you need to find another company. They should be writing content that is:
- Competent: it should be generally free of errors in grammar and content
- Relevant: it has to answer your patients’ burning questions and even their secret concerns
- Unique: it should have not just its own words, but its own tone and interests–a personality
- Durable: what marketers call “sticky” or “sharable,” content that contains worthwhile ideas
- Elementary: Its audience should be to potential patients, not to other dentists, and not to you
That’s right, you want your website content to be CRUDE, and the more time you spend polishing it, the more likely it is that you’re going to lose the CRUDE your website needs to be successful. Of course, you’re not going to be actually introducing errors in grammar, but if you hold the reins too tight, you can be stifling the creative energy of the blog, so that it might be writing only about topics that matter to you, not your patients, and in your concern that some topics just aren’t “appropriate” or are too “fluffy” for your blog, you might end up retreading the same old ground as all the other dental blogs out there. If you’re trying too hard to make the content “highbrow” enough for you, you might be alienating all the patients who haven’t had years of dental school to know what you’re talking about.
Find Marketers You Can Trust
Find someone you can trust to produce the CRUDE that fuels your website and let them do their job. Yes, read everything that goes on your website, and send it back if it doesn’t satisfy you. But also trust that the marketers you’re working with know their trade. Trust that they have the knowledge and talent to write your pages and blogs and articles, and if they did it a certain way, it might be for a reason.
If you can’t find it in you to trust them, ask yourself why. If the problem is you having trust issues, maybe it’s time to get over that. But if the problem is your marketing company, maybe it’s time to find a new one.