Friday, September 10, 2010 | 11:55 AM
A dentist by trade but an entrepreneur at heart, Dr. Jeffrey Prager has tried many tactics — including television, radio, newspaper inserts, phone book ads and direct mail — to attract new patients for his Bellingham, Washington-based dental practice.
Dentists primarily rely on word-of-mouth referrals from existing patients, but they’re also open to welcoming new patients from other sources. That’s why Dr. Prager was intrigued when one of his patients suggested that he check out Google Places as a way to build an online presence for his dental care practice, Bellingham Smiles.
Realizing that he could have his business listing appear for free when people searched on Google.com or Google Maps for services like “dentist in bellingham,” Dr. Prager claimed his listing and built out the Place page for his business. As his practice continues to evolve, he updates the Place page for Bellingham Smiles to reflect new treatments and promotional offers. For example, from time to time, he adds a new video or updates his business description. “It’s best to stay on top of it and modify it as you add new services and any new emphasis in your practice,” he says.
In many cases, patients come to him via his Place page in hopes that he can save a tooth that has been targeted for extraction by another dentist. It also helps him publicize his niche expertise in laser procedures that help patients avoid painful gum surgery.
The free business listing and Place page that Dr. Prager set up through Google Places have become his marketing powerhouse. “It’s the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing that I do. That’s pretty powerful since I do a lot of marketing,” he says. “Google Places has been very helpful in getting people who want to save their natural teeth to find me. The thing that counts in marketing isn’t what you spend, it’s the ROI. I would say Google, in all of its forms, is our best ROI.”
Now aware that a strong online presence is essential to helping people find him, Dr. Prager urges other businesses to take advantage of Google Places as well. “If you’re not listed on Google somewhere, you are invisible to potential clients, patients and customers,” he says. “A lot of people will not go to a business of any kind if they don’t have a website. They want information before they call or visit. That trend is only going to increase.”
To create a Google Places account for your business, visit www.google.com/places.
Posted by Bernadette Cay, Associate Product Marketing Manager