Starting a new business can be incredibly difficult and this is especially true in the dental and medical fields where the competition is so intense. Providing great care for your patients is not the only thing that matters when you are trying to build a successful dental or medical practice. You could be the greatest doctor or dentist in the world and your practice will still fail if the general public does not know you exist.
Therefore, you must also you do everything in your power to promote your practice to let people know who you are and what you can offer them. You will be out of business quickly if you fail to do this. So what is the most effective way to market a new medical or dental practice online using the tools that are currently available? While there are several answers to this question, there is no doubt that analytics are an essential source of information to market your business. Let’s analyze the underrated role of analytics in dental and medical marketing.
Even though I am not part of the Net Generation, I have learned a lot from it. This term was first coined by Diana and James Oblinger in their book Educating the Net Generation and provides great teachings for success in the marketing field.
Here are some key takeaways from this book that will help you towards marketing success.
Marketing is essentially the business of making people aware.
The reason marketing is vital for virtually any company or corporate entity is that there’s often a wide gulf between the number of folks who potentially need the product or service being provided and the number of people who aren’t aware the product or service is offered. Then comes the influence in the form of advertisement. Those who wish to start a business must realize that not only must they spread awareness they must create a call to action for the potential consumer.
[Elysabeth Teeko likes to dabble in all kinds of blogging. She especially loves to stalk new tech and internet marketing news, as well as study interior decorating and other home-esque subjects. You can find her on twitter; @Elysateek.]
Email blasts- the right (and not annoying) way to do them
Email blasts, the epicenter of the direct electronic marketing world, are a popular tool that many businesses use. Because of the misuse of this tactic by a large number of companies, the approach has gained an unseemly reputation. Most people will simply discard emails that look like they originated from an email blast, and even the ones that are opened only rarely prompt the reader to act. So, how can you use the email blast technique correctly and effectively?
In 1999 Seth Godin wrote an incredible book called “Permission Marketing” (you can check out part of “Permission Marketing” for free at Amazon or could read the entire first four chapters if you e-mail me at damian [at] idaconcpts [dot] com, and yes, I am authorized to forward the first three chapters of this book via e-mail, as long as I don’t make any profit out of it). Seth is a truly great author and you should check him out. He’s such a good author that he often gives out part of his work for free (as in the case of “Permission Marketing”) or even complete books.
The concept of permission marketing is best exemplified by the smart use of e-mail.
Recognize this little checkbox? Every time that you are interested in an online service or product and you need to register to be able to use it, the makers will ask you this question. Do you want to hear from us? This little question is very powerful because you are already engaging in a conversation with your users. You’re letting them know that you want to keep in touch with them and likewise you are asking them, if they are ok with it.
Now, I understand that you might challenge this proposition: people are ok with an organization reaching out to them. Well, consider this survey from eMarketer:
Do you notice the change in user trends about e-mail messages from companies from 2005 to 2008? People care about these e-mails because 1) they are REGISTERED, 2) they checked the little “it’s ok to contact me” box during registration, 3) the e-mails that they are receiving are personal, relevant, and ANTICIPATED messages (the three pillars of Seth’s permission marketing), and 4) they can choose when and where to check these messages.
The beauty behind e-mail permission marketing is that people do not have to be interrupted, they choose when to review the information (if, at all).
However, any organization can mess up this priceless, golden permission that its users have provided by abusing this permission and turning its e-mail messages into impersonal, irrelevant and unanticipated.
Provide your users a check-box during registration so they can decide whether or not to give you permission to contact them.
Make your e-mail messages personal (ask for feedback, provide various channels for communication, thank them for giving you a job), relevant (tell them about how you are making their experience better, tell them how other users got in touch with you and they made a difference in the new release) , and anticipated (bi-weekly, monthly).
Don’t abuse the permission your users they have given you: NEVER sell your e-mail list to other vendors, ALWAYS provide the option for 1-click, easy unsubscription, and ALWAYS respect if they decide to unsubscribe from your e-mail list.
Thank you for your time. In the next post I will discuss about web metrics of permission marketing e-mail campaigns.
“Based on our research, the conversation [with advertisers] gets interesting at 200 million page views plus a month, but much more so around 800 million,” ContentNext’s Lauren Rich Fine writes in a report.
For big operations, like at Yahoo (YHOO), AOL (TWS) or the New York Times (NYT), that bar needs to be even higher. In order to survive as a Web-only news product, for example, Fine says the New York Times needs about 1.3 billion pageviews a month.
That’s about 1.1 billion more pageviews than the 173 million ComScore says NYTimes.com saw in October.
Here’s a bit of a problem that I have with these numbers. If you go to Google Ad Planner and take a look at the numbers for the New York Times, this is what you get: 490 million pageviews in a 30-day period.
I might sound a bit picky but I wish there was more consistency in reporting a web metric such as pageviews. As a web analytics consultant, if I was to try to understand how to increase traffic at NYTimes.com, I would start by taking a look at the trends in daily unique visitors as to segment (or slice like a ninja, as Avinash Kaushik would say) the audience into customer experiences. Given that I am cheap, I try to work with free data as much as possible, so free tools such as Google Trends and Google Ad Planner are my best friends.
Going back to the cited article, contentNext mentions that for news-oriented online operations, the bar needs to be set really high at more than 1 billion pageviews. Yahoo! and AOL are cited as examples.
My conclusion is that NYTimes.com should target more its female readers (notice how Yahoo! and AOL have a bigger percentage of female visitors) and its younger readers (notice how Yahoo! and AOL have a high number of visitors on the under 18 category, that is the first bar on the age graph).
This is just a general suggestion, but it’s a start. Besides, it’s free advice, unless of course they would like to hire a new web analytics expert. : )
As you may have read in the About the author section, I am enrolled in the Master of Business Administration at the Shidler College of Business at Honolulu, HI. A very common question that I get all the time is: “so…what do you do?” Well, one of the most common assignments that we get is to solve business problems given a specific context. This context is usally found within Harvard Business School cases.
According to the Harvard Business School, this is the scenario:
The CEO of a two-year-old start-up must now decide whether to become a technology provider or a service agency. In a time of enormous uncertainty about the viability of various business models for Internet-delivered services and products, Collabrys has survived the burst Internet bubble by partnering with brand-name large companies and by responding to market feedback. This case traces the company from its earliest days and its original value proposition to a point at which the two very different future strategies appear feasible. Originally funded by venture capital, the company has changed key personnel, experimented with different distribution and partnering schemes, developed some sophisticated intellectual property, and raised a second round of funding.
Here is my take on the Collabrys, Inc. case:
I. Situation Analysis
Collabrys, Inc.’s situation is a textbook example straight out of the pages of Steven Gary Blank’s book The Four Steps to the Epiphany because of the company initial focus on the product development process rather than on the customer development process. During the dot-com era, and some still today, Internet startups fail to understand that the most common source of failure for startups is a lack of customers and not a lack of product development. Collabrys was good at managing its product development, but terrible at managing its customer development. Let’s review what is wrong with the product development process as a business model:
The flowchart above indicates the main problem with using the product development process as the cornerstone for an Internet startup is that it does neither generate customer demand nor sales until after a considerable amount of cash has been spent on building capacity and marketing campaigns. Even Collabrys’s MVP manager, Villapando-Ibalio, found it difficult to explain the potential for BrandPrint to potential clients and Collabrys always encountered the question: “What can I do with BrandPrint tomorrow that is different from what I do today?” Obviously the company failed to solve an existing problem because it was still using the same outrageous sales projections from its written business plan from the financing rounds and it failed to understand that what it needed to do is to provide customers a solution for a problem that was critical for them and eating away their profits. Collabrys’ sales deteriorated over time because it was not able to answer the following questions:
What are their customer’s top problems?
Does Collabrys’ services concept solve these customer’s problems?
If Collabrys was to offer its services for free to its clients, will they still acquire them?
If Collabrys was to charge for these services, does it have a repeatable sales model?
II. Problem Definition
Collabrys does not have a repeatable sales model because it failed to address its potential customers’ top problems, its customers did not agree that its current service offering added value, and its customers were not willing to pay for a service that did not offer a solution to their problems. Collabrys did not have a proven sales roadmap previous to product concept development, did not understand the sales cycle of its customers, and did not have a set of orders that validated its sales roadmap. In conclusion, Collabrys had a financial model that did not make sense.
III. Analysis of Alternatives
Collabrys alternatives all aim to the customer development process:
Unfortunately for Collabrys, the company had already burnt a considerable amount of its funding to realize that it needed to validate a repeatable sales model before it could build a whole company around it. The two alternatives were either for Collabrys:
1. to become an analytics software company
2. to use the technology in-house, but as part of a service provision.
Either of these solutions would have to provide a repeatable sales model to essential clients with these characteristics:
• Has a problem
• Know they have a problem
• Has been actively looking for a solution
• Has put together a solution out of piece parts
• Has or can acquire a budget
Given the previous communications with clients, it was clear that Collabrys needed to establish a clear difference from other CRM applications in the mind of clients and that Collabrys should not spend time focusing on groups that did not have a clear idea of their problem, did not actively look for a solution (as opposed to explore options), and did not have access to a purchasing budget at all.
a IV. Recommendations
The second alternative, to use the technology in-house, but as part of a service provision. provides the right approach through the search of specific answers for the critical questions: What are we selling? What are its benefits? Who do we sell to? At what price? The creation of the Tiger Team should have been the starting point for Collabrys and the cornerstone of its business model, because it focuses on the prescribed customer development process of Blank. The process of contacting all existing partners and 35 potential clients to determine the budget of clients, necessary client interaction (e.g. sales cycle), existing competitors, and price ceiling of clients, would provide Collabrys with a clear idea whether clients are serious enough to buy a service that still needed some tweaking. The Tiger Team process clearly addresses the customer discovery and customer validation sections of the customer development process, which in turn would allow the company to set realistic year-one objectives according to its market type, position the company and service, and create repeatable, sustainable demand.
By focusing on being an agency that provides managed solutions for companies during their product launch an introduction and targeting the sales process to brand managers (instead of interactive marketing managers, market research people, or advertising agencies) the company will be able to make more efficient use of its resources and channel management and sales personnel to profitable activities.
This option is less likely to lead to either an IPO or sale of the company, but it provides a clear spending plan, establishes that the current team is right for this stage of the company and provides a clear sales growth plan. The company would now have the right mindset and tools to establish the goals for the next twelve months. A main concern of this recommendation is whether or not existing competitors can replicate Collabrys service provision, because there is not enough information on the case to establish a valid conclusion.
What do you think? : )
Note: If you are a current MBA student and are planning to use this as a reference, go ahead! But please include me in your references section.
First of all, it is important to point that it is not possible to see the Daily Unique Visitors graph of http://picasa.google.com using Google Trends. Also a big mahalo (thank you in Hawaiian!) to fellow Photo Lover, Katharine Osborne, for showing me Skitch. This great little image capturing & editing tool for Mac has made my blogging much easier.
Why Picasa? Well, in my personal opinion, the 2 main players for desktop applications in photo organizing & sharing for Mac OS are:
Teaser: what are the differences between the 2 of them? : ) Coming soon!
Since it was not possible to look for the Daily Unique Visitors graph, I looked for the Search Volume Index of the term “picasa”. Here’s what you get:
The letters correspond to relevant news, here’s the list:
The biggest spike, highlighted with the letter A, happened after the release of Picasa 2.0 by Google, back in 2005 which included a series of improvements such as picture captioning and blog-posting ability (for the whole list check here). A spike in the search volume of the term “picasa” is expected around the date of a new release. This is supported by event F, because on September 3, 2008, Picasa 3.0 was released.
What was really interesting is that the United States does not appear among the top 10 regions where the term “picasa” is searched for!!
Is this possible? Is it an error? Let’s analyze the following:
Notice that there appears no U.S. city on the top 10 cities that search for “picasa” and that English does not appear on the top 10 languages!
This finding is very interesting so I adjusted the upper right setting for region from:
and I found that English is the 3rd language of the region when searching for “picasa”!
The term “picasa” is searched more around the release date of a new version of Picasa.
Google’s Picasa has a stronger presence abroad than in the United States.
Google MUST consider that the majority of its users come from outside of the U.S., so web sites version in different languages might be needed to support its users. This situation is not strange, the same thing happened to Flickr.com.
Why are these conclusions relevant?
Consider the following for Apple’s iPhoto, when looking for the term “iphoto”, this is what I found:
United States is the second region where most searches happen.
8 of the top 10 cities, where the searches happened, are inside of the U.S.
English is the top language of the queries.
This illustrates the difference in strategies between Apple’s iPhoto and Google’s Picasa.
• Given the higher failure rate of products and the saturation of marketing channels, it is necessary to improve the understanding of the innovation process in order to better meet the customer’s needs and to launch to market ahead of the competition.
• I agree that innovation requires a different approach that goes beyond the category where the idea originated and that there are special kinds of people needed for this process. Kotler and Trias de Bes (2003, p. 104) indicate that “the logic of creativity consitsts of taking an element, displacing laterally one aspect of it, and connecting the gap that has been provoked. The logic of creativity follows a process similar to that of humor”. Below are three pictures of an innovative sculpture that combines the work of two my favorite artists, Salvador Dali and Albrecht Dürer. This sculpture is located at a hotel nearby the Nagoya airport in Japan, notice that Salvador Dali sculpted this based on Dürer’s Rhinocero’s woodcut.
•Lateral marketing uses the power of context and the stickiness factor concepts of Gladwell to create “a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible” (Gladwell, 2002, p. 132). The case of “Big Brother” TV Contest in the United States and the Sony Walkman in Japan are good examples of well-executed lateral marketing.
• The three steps of lateral marketing are (Kotler and Trias de Bes, 2003, p. 104):
o Choose a focus where we want to generate a lateral displacement.
o Provoke a lateral displacement for generating a gap.
o Think about ways to connect the gap.
• Kotler, author of the 4Ps, wouldn’t pass the opportunity to include them in the process described above and defines the three main levels of lateral marketing as 1) the market definition level, 2) the product level, and 3) the rest of the marketing mix level.
• I found the example of the creation process for the artificial flower was great. In this series of talking points, I have discussed the similarities and differences between “Lateral Marketing” and “The Tipping Point”. However, I think that another work is more appropriate for chapter six of Lateral Marketing. “The Tipping Point” was concerned with grand themes, with figuring out the rules by which social change happens. “Blink” is quite different. It is concerned with the smallest components of our everyday lives–with the content and origin of those instantaneous impressions and conclusions that bubble up whenever we meet a new person, or confront a complex situation, or have to make a decision under conditions of stress.
• “Blink” is a good read, especially for the second step of the lateral marketing process, making a lateral displacement on one of the three main marketing levels through substitution, inversion, combination, exaggeration, elimination, and reordering. This process is more like brainstorming. “Blink” is a “book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions”.
• The hardest part about the process of lateral marketing is the last step, that is solving the gap of the lateral displacement with a value proposition that will result in either: 1) same product, new utility; 2) new product, new utility; or 3) new product, same utility. The further reprocessing of the marketing mix is about dealing with small details that make a big difference. This is the same objective of “The Tipping Point”: “how a number of relatively minor changes in our external environment can have a dramatic effect on how we behave and who we are” (Gladwell, 2002).
According to Gladwell, the Power of context infers that epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur . This is a main idea within lateral marketing, because it involves an important transformation of a product or service: there must be the radical addition of a use, situation, need or target that had not existed ever before (http://www.gladwell.com/tippingpoint/guide/chapter4.html).
While vertical marketing consists of modulations within a given market, lateral marketing restructures markets by creating a new category through new uses, situations, or targets with the appropriate changes in a product (Lateral Marketing, 2003, Kotler and Trias de Bes, p. 75). I found it really interesting that Kotler and Trias de Bes state that lateral marketing is a complement of vertical marketing, because lateral marketing works in the areas where vertical marketing does not. Throughout the first four chapters of Lateral Marketing, one gets the idea that lateral marketing should completely replace vertical marketing. In chapter 5, the authors make it very clear that both types of marketing are complementary and necessary.
One generally accepted assumption for Gladwell, Kotler, Trias de Bes is that all kinds of high-tech products fail, never making it beyond the Early Adopters, because companies fail to transform an idea that makes perfect sense to an Early Adopter to one that makes perfect sense to a member of the Early Majority (http://www.gladwell.com/tippingpoint/guide/chapter6.html). Most high-tech products fall under the lateral marketing area and require a greater effort on consumer education. Consumers can assimilate and adopt more readily vertical marketing innovations because they fall within their comfort zones.
The last statement ties in directly with the “Stickiness Factor”. There are small but critical adjustments in how we need to present ideas to the average individual, so that we can overcome the weaknesses from these ideas and make what we have to say memorable.
An example: Both Investopedia.com and Fool.com seek to educate all investors, from novice to advanced, because they believe that the key to success in investment banking is the access to information and that is why, online investing education sites offer a variety of glossaries, investing tutorials, articles, tools to calculate return on investments and investment simulators. The main objective is to have a better understanding of how the financial market operates so that individuals can maximize their potential profit and minimize their risks by becoming aware of potential hazards in investing. This is all nice and fine, but it completely misses the other two rules to start an epidemic, “the stickiness factor” and “the power of context”. Both educational sites miss “a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible” (Gladwell, 2002, p. 132).
Throughout many years these two websites failed to become “epidemic” because they failed to: identify the level of expertise of the investor; create as many hyperlinks as possible; recognize that most users on online education websites already hold some education about investments; put everything into the context of the investment industry (because the goal of online investing education is authentic learning); and provide training material for the certificates, licenses and other forms of legitimization that the investment industry requires.
A great area of opportunity for the investing education sector was the gap between what takes place in educational practices and what takes place in current work practices, and this creates an educational gap. Gladwell (2002) refers to this as the “Power of context”. Both Fool.com and Investopedia.com realized that even though it was necessary to expose the novice learner to the industry vocabulary, the two main goals of an online investing education website should be (1) putting vocabulary in context and (2) reinforcing the trust of the community in its non-material elements. This is called authentic learning and it specifies performance standards in a profession. Therefore, it was necessary to develop more articles and tutorials about industry practices and specific industry skills like due diligence, portfolio management and professional certification.
So, did these sites follow this advice?
For many years, Fool.com had a clear advantage over Investopedia.com. However, the graph above clearly shows that Fool.com has lost visitors, while Investopedia.com has a steady upwards trend of daily unique visitors. To minimize the asymmetry of information in the areas of Finance and Investing, there should an increase in the teaching-learning practices that use the concept of a community of practice to diminish that asymmetry. The investing sector is a community of practice that uses authentic learning to develop learning activities that are similar to those that take place in the current practice of finance and investing, which it is assumed that he or she wants to take part of later in the future. There have been important advances in the field on online investing education but there is yet much to be done.