In the not-too-distant past, branding and search marketing were often treated as mutually exclusive business marketing endeavors—where business brand planning, marketing, and management efforts were rarely influenced by search marketing interests or needs. When businesses engaged in branding activities, the efforts were often seen as part of a “business identity development” undertaking, an internal process that was accomplished by the highest-ranking stakeholders and governed by a widespread belief that the result of business brand development was an expression of core company competencies, strengths, and values. In this mindset, “brand” was a cornerstone in the foundation, not a product or an asset that could be leveraged for something as neoteric as search marketing.
In many respects, the reverse was also true. The previously-held notions regarding search marketing, content marketing, and social media were that they were tactical efforts that existed only at the edge of a complex and ever-changing digital front line. But these were the days before the digital tipping point of 2010, when spending on digital marketing finally surpassed print marketing, and businesses across all industries woke to the dawn of a new era in marketing—one in which search marketing was fully integrated with brand identity and message. Suddenly, branding and search marketing were inextricably linked online, but it would be a few years before practice owners and practice marketers learned that their brand had also become an online product that required continual upkeep to maintain its character.
The effective management of an online brand identity across the Web—where false information thrives and trust is a hard-won commodity–requires a strategy based on market research, time, patience, creativity, knowledge of search engine marketing tools and techniques, a modicum of technological competencies, and, most of all, vigilance.
If you are contemplating crossing the Rubicon for the first time—wanting to enter the search market and grow your brand—you should know that, depending on your market, competition can be fierce. But a strong effort to grow visibility and differentiate your brand from those against the competitive backdrop is the surest strategy for success.
The rest of this white paper provides an overview of branding and search marketing recommendations for medical or healthcare practice owners and practice marketers, with examples and advice drawn from search marketing professionals who have openly shared their knowledge and experience.