Today, I am speaking at the Mental Health Marketing Conference in Nashville Tennessee.
I’ve never spoken at a conference before. I’m a bit nervous. I saw some really great presenters so far and it’s a joy to be surrounded by such smart and passionate people. I’ve already learned some new things and am grateful for the experience.
None the less, somewhere in this day I will have to make a presentation.
If I could accomplish one thing with my presentation today, it would be to teach. I feel that I can bring a lot of value by sharing my experience. It has been through my experience and my own journey that I have learned all of the lessons that I apply to my craft today.
If one person can walk away from my presentation having learned something, then I feel I accomplished my mission.
Let’s get started.
Lesson # 1 – If You Aren’t a Writer then Find a Writer
In our media driven world, it is very easy to focus on shinny objects.
We want to fill our websites with beautiful photography, compelling videos, and interviews. We want breathtaking web design and colors.
Somewhere in the last 8 years, we have lost the appreciation for the written word. Most importantly, we have lost focus on clarity.
Yesterday, I watched a presenter named Joe give a presentation that highlighted the importance of clarity as well as the detrimental effects of ambiguity. In his presentation he gave a compelling breakdown of a landing page and we went over the criteria that made his landing page optimized for conversion.
I noticed the colors of the landing page. I noticed the buttons and the contracts. I noticed the picture of the cheerful faced woman. But most importantly, I noticed the words.
Chances are, that’s what you noticed too. You noticed the words because you looked for a story.
The single most valuable skill a web marketer can posses is the ability to clearly and effective translate a message. Everything is focused around the words.
This is why the copy writer is still called the rain maker. The most beautiful design and the most amazing photography will not convince someone to pick up the phone and call in the way that a well written piece of copy can.
The first website I ever built was called “The 4th dissension.” It was the website that started it all for me. It was where my entire career stemmed from. At that time in my life, I was getting sober and I needed an outlet. So I would write. I created a blog-spot account and I would write stories and I would write about sobriety. I would write and write and then I would write some more.
I discovered that people are story telling machines. Our entire civilizations are predicated around the stories that we tell ourselves. Stories can be told through video and through images and even through colors. But the most captivating story is the story told through the written word.
It is the art form that will never die. It will never go out of style and it will always be the most valuable because it will dictate the clarity of your message.
Focus on your writing. If you’re not a good writer, hire the writer first.
Lesson # 2 – Social Media is for Socializing
About 10 months into my sobriety, a friend of mine approached me with an idea.
I was starting to have some success with my blog. Through methods that I didn’t completely understand at the time, I was starting to build a following.
I had really stumbled onto something. I was building a real audience and I was starting to take Facebook very seriously. At that time, Facebook was still a bit more fringe and we were actually using the platform to share our thoughts and our ideas with each other. It was a positive place. This was before fake news.
I took it upon myself to build a Facebook audience. So that’s what I did.
It was an amazing time in my life. I would stay up all night and write blog articles about sobriety and relapse. I would write about my own experience and I would network with other bloggers and give them a platform to talk about their own experience. I was building a real community and we were using the internet as a way to fellowship.
It was beautiful.
But over the course of the next 5 years, I would make the most expensive and humbling mistake of my career.
In the year 2012, I could post a blog article with 20,000 Facebook fans and I would watch that article explode. I would sit and stare at the live analytics and see thousands of people read my work. They would comment on my blog, they would share it among themselves and it would make me feel so good.
But that’s all that happened.
The purpose of my website was to sell ad space to treatment centers. Treatment centers wanted click throughs to their websites. People who were reading my work through an article they found on Facebook had absolutely no intentions on clicking on an ad for a treatment center.
These people were looking to be entertained, they were looking to engage and they were looking to socialize. They certainly weren’t looking to solve their addiction problem.
I persisted with this same strategy for another two years because I was addicted to the dopamine hits I would get from seeing my traffic spikes and seeing everyone react to my creation.
But I certainly wasn’t seeing any results. At least not results in the form of revenue or sales.
Although expensive, that time in my life taught me the realities behind social media.
I would never say that there is no value in social media. But the strength in social media is in social concepts. Social media will do a great job of spreading a message or uniting a cause. Social media can do remarkable things for content creators and brands of all sizes.
But it won’t admit people into to treatment and healthcare industries in the same way that other strategies can. The reason is because people don’t go to Facebook to solve problems, they go to Facebook to be social.
Lesson #3 – Google is the Problem Solving Machine
There is a man named Scott Galloway who runs an organization called L2. He a professor of marketing at scern NYU. He calmly refers to Google as “our new God.”
The reason being is because God has always been an outlet for humanity to go to to answer questions to problems that they didn’t understand.
God, why won’t it rain?
How can I get rich?
Please God, will you help my child who has demons in him?
Well if you want to know why it’s not raining, Google will tell you. If you want to get rich, you can learn on Google. And if you want to know what those demons are, Google will tell you that it’s the disease of addiction and that you can seek treatment.
Hands down, without a doubt, the best way to grow your census is through organic search through a search engine, mainly Google.
Because Google is our God. People go to Google to solve problems. Solving the addiction problem is the holy grail of the human experience.
So I know what you’re thinking. If Google is so good at marketing treatment facilities, then why don’t I do that? How do I do that? When can I get started?
The reason that everyone can’t compete on Google is because it is very competitive and it is very hard. The nature of SEO is difficult. To rank for real buying keywords requires a strategy, dedication and budget.
I’m not talking about bringing in Google traffic for some obscure blog topic. I’m talking about bringing in Google traffic centered around “drug rehab” and “addiction treatment” keywords.
Basically, some of the most competitive keywords in the world.
But fear not, there is an answer for you my good friends. There is a way to cut out your little piece of the divine. You can own your space in bliss with the Google God.
Lesson # 4 – When in Doubt, Go Local
It’s just not feasible to expect to rank for national keywords. There are heavy hitters involved and getting traction on a national scale requires years and years of dedication.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m just saying the chances are slim.
So the trick is to hyper focus your SEO traffic around location based searched. You will not be able to be on the first page for the search phrase “drug rehab.” However, there is a high probably you can find your way on in the top three for “drug rehab in Madison Wisconson.”
You can do that. It will take time, but you can do it.
When you get there, your entire business will change. Owning one local search phrase around a buying keyword such as “drug rehab Wisconsin” has a total of 250+ searches a month. Assuming that 4 of those searches turns into an actual admit, in most cases that’s a 20-25% increase in patients.
That’s how you make yourself available to people in need.
Lesson # 5 – Design is Conversion
When a designer builds a website, she does so because she wants it to be clean and friendly and pleasing to the eye.
When a marketer designs a website, she should be doing so because she wants to turn that traffic into phone calls.
The KPI for every healthcare center should be a phone call. It’s the most valuable lead and the most likely to convert. So if our mission is to turn our web traffic into phone calls, the best thing we can do is to incorporate conversion tactics into our design.
We do this through great copy writing, sticky click to call buttons on mobile and easy to navigate content that solves problems.
Over the last 6 years, the team at Stodzy has experimented with dozens of calls to action, click to call buttons, heat maps, crazy eggs and time on site metrics. The purpose of this article isn’t to breakdown how those conversation tactics work, but rather to express the importance of design and its relationship to conversion.
You can have a million hits of traffic a second to your website, but if no one calls you, it’s worthless. In fact, it’s at a negative because gaining that traffic in the first place was not free.
Do not lose sight of this fact. Often times, people get uncomfortable in this stage. It is going in for the close. People don’t like to be overly aggressive in their layout. But it’s better to be overly aggressive then to be underwhelming.
People want to know that you can help them. They want to know that when they call, you can solve their problems. Remember how they got to your site in the first place, remember about the Google God.
So make it known what your plans are. There is nobility in clarity of message.
Do you want a pretty website or do you want a website that gets patients? The good news is you can have both.
A Final Thought
I am a web marketer. I am a professional. I do what I do with the purpose of gaining an income for myself and to be a contributing factor to the business that I am serving.
But I am also a man in recovery.
As a professional, I am responsible for my art. I am responsible for the results of my art. It is my job and my career and my livelihood.
I approach my job with the full understanding that the work that I do has weight. We are not selling online saas products or yoga pants or kitchen appliances.
What we are doing is making ourselves available to people who desperately need our services. For those of you reading this who have struggled with addiction yourself, you will understand that the only thing an addicted person dreams of is to stop. In 2017 I lost I think 7 friends to heroin overdoses. One of which hurt me in a way that I still feel.
What we do carries weight. It’s important that we understand the consequences of the work we do.
I see my work as a win win scenario. I get to do what I love. We all get to build great careers and we get to be of service to our fellow man.
All we have to do is make ourselves available and solve difficult problems. If you can do that, your marketing will thrive, your business will thrive and your local community will thank you.