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By Dusty Green

It’s always fun and certainly interesting to travel the country and talk to folks about video marketing.
By and large, most of the people we talk to are big believers themselves in the power of video, and are either using video in their marketing efforts now or are making plans to do so in the near future. They’ve seen the writing on the wall, so to speak, and they’re getting on board.

But we also talk to a surprisingly large number of people who continue to cling to the idea that video marketing is either too expensive, too time-consuming, or too far outside the norms of “traditional, industry-acceptable” marketing.

Granted, there was definitely a time when those concerns were entirely valid. Say, 5 to 10 years ago when admittedly no one was really sure where the whole “video-over-the-Internet” movement was headed. But if you haven’t heard, everyone’s beginning to figure it out. Video marketing is here in a big way. It’s legitimate. And it’s being embraced by businesses and industries across the spectrum and around the world.

In fact, earlier this year, Forbes magazine spelled out the situation pretty clearly in an article titled: “Why Online Video is Vital for Your 2013 Content Marketing Objectives” (January 2013). The opening line of the article says it perfectly: “If you feel online video is just another over hyped, passing fad, think again. In fact, online video is gaining strength as a source for content marketing.”

But of course, it isn’t just Forbes singing the praises of video and touting its necessity in your marketing efforts. I could literally quote you hundreds of studies, statistics, and articles all saying the same thing. But there’s no need. If you’re still not a believer, just type “growth of online video” into Google and research the matter for yourself.

Bottom line: Like the Internet itself, video is certainly not a fad. It isn’t a gimmick. And it’s most definitely not going away. In fact, it’s only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger.

But why? What is it about video exactly that makes it so effective (and popular)? Lots of reasons, really. Some of them are quite obvious, and some are actually buried within our subconscious. In fact, our fascination with video may very well be ingrained in our DNA, says behavioral psychologist Susan Weinschenk, PhD, who has performed intense study on the subject, and found four reasons we’re hard-wired to love video:

  • The Fusiform Facial area makes us pay attention to faces—this is an actual brain function that hard-wires us to use the human face as a gathering point for information and believability.
  • Voice conveys rich information—yes, the simple sound of a human voice speaking to us has an amazing way of converting information into meaningful content.
  • Movement grabs attention—another trait that runs deep in our collective anthropological DNA is the power of peripheral motion. Since the Stone Age, we’ve survived by noticing things in motion. It looks like we still do!
  • Emotions are contagious—here’s a subtle but powerful aspect that we may take for granted. The body language of emotions is appealing, and we naturally love to share.

In a nutshell, video is so effective and popular because no other medium so closely reflects life. Video has people, movement, sound, and—most effectively—the ability to convey and elicit emotion. All the things that fill all our lives every day. And we are ourselves in large part by-products of the decisions (and purchases) we’ve made thanks to the influence of movies we’ve seen, commercials we’ve watched, and stories we’ve seen on the evening news. The impact of the medium is undeniable.

OK, you’re saying. I get it. Video is powerful. Video is good. I need to use video for my practice.

All that’s left is the question: So how do I do that?

Start with Your Online Storefront

Like any good project, an effective video marketing strategy has to begin with a strong foundation—a base from which to build and maintain an ongoing effort. And when considering getting a video marketing strategy off the ground, that foundation—the launch pad, if you will—is right there in front of you every day: Your website.

Again, it is your official place of business on the Internet. Your online storefront. The place where prospective patients and parents are going to look first to find out who you are and what you’re all about. They’re shopping around. They’re doing their research. And they’re making their decisions based largely on what they find online.

But simply having a website isn’t enough anymore, not in today’s world. Why? Because almost everyone’s got an attractive, informative website. And despite differences in design and functionality, it’s getting harder and harder for prospective patients to tell the difference from one office website to the next.

And what do orthodontists who have used video to market their practices have to say?

Doug Singleton, DDS, MS, Kennesaw, Ga:
“It works very well for me. As far as the bang for the buck—the marketing dollars I’ve spent—the return on investment is incalculable. Because everybody’s seeing it, and people come in saying, ‘Hey, I feel like I already know you.’ And the case is already sold. It’s fantastic. It’s the best money I’ve spent.”
J. Don Spillers, Jr, DMD, MS, Warner-Robins, Ga:?
“There’s competition everywhere. And if you really want to have a first-class website, you’ve got to have video. There’s no question about it. People relate to video. It’s very powerful. Patients will come in and say, ‘You look just like you do on the video,’ or ‘The office looks just like it does on the video.’ And some will say, ‘I feel like I’ve already been there,’ because they have experienced it online already.”

Joe Vargo, DMD, Rome, Ga:
“People don’t have time to sit down and read. They would love to, but no one has the luxury of time. Video content pulls everything together in an easy format that allows you to get a lot of information in very quickly. And if you’re going to keep up with the times, if you’re going to set yourself apart—this is a great way to do that.”

Think about your own website for a second. Do you have an “about the doctor” page? Check. Staff pictures? Check. A page talking about all of your state-of-the-art treatment options? Check. A “contact us” page? Check. Chances are you do. Because everybody’s got that stuff. So what makes your practice (and your website) special? What makes you different and better?

Amazingly, despite its booming popularity and proven effectiveness, only a fraction of orthodontic practices today are using video. So by virtue of that fact alone, adding video to your website can accomplish one very important and very effective thing right away: It sets your website apart from others in a modern, uniquely valuable way.

But equally as important, if the videos are produced correctly, they can also make an immediate, positive, and lasting emotional connection with every person who visits your site. They see your videos, and boom! You’ve got that person’s attention. They see your face. They hear your voice. They really get a feel for what your office is like.

Best of all, that person now sees you as more than just another photograph on a page, or another name with lots of letters behind it. If the video is done right, they see you as a person. Someone real. Someone who has a passion for what they’re doing. Someone they feel comfortable with. Someone they could possibly get to know and like.

Bingo. You’ve got ’em. They call, make an appointment, and by the time they arrive for their initial consultation, they feel as though they’ve been to the office and gotten to know everybody.

Good stuff. Good stuff indeed.

So with your website you have a great foundation from which to start. That’s the good news. The bad news is, like everything else that evolved so quickly in today’s high-tech society, video marketing has changed dramatically in the past few years. It’s grown up. It’s more mature. Meaning, if your video isn’t done right, or if you have a 15-minute-long video on your website that you produced in 2005 that you think is still fine and dandy, you probably need to take a fresh and honest look.

That’s why for your website videos, don’t mess around. Go with a professional video production company. Somebody who knows video production and knows what they’re doing. Professional production is an investment, no doubt. But your website—and everything on it—is, for better or worse, a reflection of your image and your brand. And it’s too important to put in the hands of an amateur.

Video Marketing and Social Media

The good news is that the second half of your video marketing strategy is equally powerful, equally important, and practically free. All it really requires is a little bit of time and a dose of creativity.

This is where sites like YouTube and Facebook come into play.

Think of Facebook and YouTube as your own personal TV channels. You’re in control of the programming, and you can advertise all you want for free. All you need to get started is a smartphone or video camera, a computer, and a staff member willing to spend an extra few minutes here and there filming and (if necessary) editing.

Done consistently and creatively, self-produced videos can—and should—be used as an excellent complement to your professional material, and help present you and your team in a more casual, down-to-earth, and comfortable light. Whereas the main website videos serve to grab the viewer’s attention, establish you as a professional, and “draw the viewer in,” so to speak, your social media videos can be an excellent way to show the fun, excitement, and all-around awesomeness of everyday life in your practice.

Now, that’s not to say you can simply post your own do-it-yourself videos and automatically expect to achieve video marketing greatness. Again, everything you post to the Internet is perceived by the public—fairly or not—as a reflection of you and your practice. So if your videos are fuzzy, dark, shaky, hard to hear, and hard to understand, the viewer’s natural reaction isn’t going to be favorable.

The list of opportunities to create and share your own videos is endless, limited only by your creativity. Contest announcements and winners. Holiday greetings. Office tours. Staff profiles. Community events and patient appreciation parties. The list goes on. They’re all great ideas, great ways to promote your practice, and great ways to establish and reinforce that personal, emotional connection with current and prospective patients.

Equally as important to all that is the fact that social media video is becoming increasingly relevant with regard to search engine optimization. It probably won’t surprise you to know the number one search engine on the Internet is Google. But can you guess what’s number two? Not Yahoo!. Not Bing. It’s YouTube. Meaning, obviously, that if you don’t have a considerable presence on YouTube, you’re missing out. And you’re missing out in a big way.

Lights! Camera! Results!

Orthodontics is, as much as anything, a business built around personal relationships. Comfort. Trust. Personality. It’s something my wife, Nikki, has preached after more than 16 years in the business, and something I’ve come to fully understand in the last few years working closely with doctors and patients. And there’s no better time than right now to begin building relationships through the unmatched power of video.

So get those cameras rolling! Good luck, and have fun. OP

dusty green Dusty Green is president of OrthoMedia, a video production company specializing in video marketing for orthodontic practices and the orthodontic industry. He is an award-winning television news and documentary producer with more than 20 years’ experience in the television and video production industries. He and his wife, Nikki, who has more than 16 years’ experience working in orthodontics, started OrthoMedia in 2008 and have a growing list of clients across the US and Canada.