Archive for April, 2008

Blogging Your Professional Service Practice

April 2, 2008

istock_000004684908small.jpg   

Blogging is the new national pastime. There are personal blogs, social blogs and professional blogs.  Whatever the topic, someone has probably blogged it.  Creating a blog for your professional practice is an excellent way to differentiate your dental, veterinary, chiropractic, legal or CPA practice from the masses.  As a service professional, a blog makes you seem up to date and relevant.  It makes you seem human and personable and, most important, it is an excellent way to build awareness for your practice, which leads to more patients or clients, which leads to more case acceptance, and … well, I think you get the picture.  Here are a few great tips for building, maintaining and promoting a professional practice blog.

#1: Define your blog
First of all, it’s important to define your purpose in creating a blog for your practice.  Although the obvious answer seems to be “to get more patients or clients,” it’s important to look at the kinds of information that can be published on a professional service blog.  It’s also important to remember that unlike most blogs, your postings are really only important to individuals who live within driving distance of your practice.  For these readers, articles on your health, legal or accounting specialty will be important but postings about your team members, your state-of-the-art equipment, successful cases and even favorite patients and clients are great ways to make a professional service blog fun and worth reading.

#2: Create visual appeal
Good content isn’t the only thing that matters. Your blog should also be visually appealing. Use tasteful colors, modern font styles, and clean graphics. Avoid dark backgrounds, overly fancy typefaces and other elements that will make your blog hard to read.  And remember the power of great photos and images. Clinical illustrations and before and after cases are obvious choices in dentistry or plastic surgery groups.  But don’t forget informal snapshots to lighten the mood and keep your site from feeling like a sterile journal.

#3: Use the proper tools
I highly recommend using one of the popular blog systems like Word Press, Blogger or Typepad. These three systems, as well as others, are extremely easy to use and make you look professional and polished. Building a blog from scratch is for nerds and people with extra time on their hands.  Most dentists, CPAs, veterinarians, attorneys and the like have neither.

Once your blog is up and running, it is easy to link your blog’s web address to your practice website (hopefully you have a practice website) so patients/clients and prospective patients/clients can easily find you online.  Most blogging systems are free to use if you allow ads to show up in your blog, but for about $8 per month you can have the ads turned off-which I highly recommend. Nothing is more annoying than cluttering a great blog with obnoxious ads that have nothing to do with your message.

#4: Engage your readers
Tell your readers who you are behind your mask and something about yourself and your team members.  Be human by posting things about your family and hobbies. Don’t get tacky, but it never hurts to make a blog informal and fun.  Get your team involved in the process.  It’s a great team-building exercise and it will also take the pressure off you as the service professional to do all the writing and content gathering.  Although it seems obvious, don’t forget to keep the humor clean and never use your blog as a political or religious platform.

#5: Keep it concise
Some of the best posts aren’t particularly profound or long.  Don’t think you have to wait until you have something brilliant to say before you write an article or put off posting because you don’t have time to write your complete thoughts on periodontal disease or IRS tax regulation changes.  Most readers have short attention spans and crowded schedules themselves.  They prefer to read a short, catchy post rather than a long, complex one.  Again, mix up the specialty content of your profession with light postings and you’ll give your readers the perfect balance of serious and fun.  Too much about plaque, halitosis, legal advice, or too many cookie recipes from your office manager will kill the site.  Look for a balance and you’ll be more successful.

#6: Promote your blog
For the most part, search engines and blog syndication are overkill for a local dentist or CPA’s blog.  But, make sure your direct mail, website, newsletter, business cards and every marketing tool available promote your blog.  This is another reason that managing a list of patient/client email addresses is so critical.

If you’ve done a poor job in the past of promoting your practice, begin today!  The future of professional practices today is exciting and your patients, clients and members of your community will value access to the easy-to-read information and professional insights you can publish in a great practice blog!