Google My Business Messaging Guide for Veterinary Practices

Since July of 2017, Google has been rolling out a new feature called, Google My Business Messaging. Leading experts have been reporting that the platform started rolling out back in July and the program itself was in a beta/pilot program since November of 2016.

What is Google My Business Messaging?

The messaging feature for Google My Business is very similar to Yelp’s messaging feature. It allows users to be able contact the business directly by messaging the business, which provides some flexibility if users don’t want to call.

Like Yelp, the feature tells users the typical response time for messages which can help push the potential patients to send a quick message before they come in.

What Does It Look Like?

When users search for your business what they will see is a message option. This will show up next to the Call, Directions and Website icons that were always there.


When the business starts to respond to more messages and get enough data to have an average response time, users will then be able to see a gray bar at the bottom signifying the average response time.

gray-bar

How Does Google My Business Messaging Work?

Google My Business works by connecting the platform with a phone number. You can use it with your normal SMS application on your phone. You can also use it with Allo or App Preview Messages.

To be completely honest I have no idea what App Preview Messages is and it seems like many people in the community have no idea either. So my recommendation is to stick with your normal SMS application.

Messages are sent to the phone number registered and you can respond messages there as well.

You can also set an automatic welcome message for users when they message you.

Google-My-Business-Messaging

Only Occurs With Mobile Branded Search

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Through our tests, the feature is not readily available for Desktop and only on Mobile.

The option for messaging still only shows up when users look for your business/brand. What this means is that when users type in queries like “veterinarians”, the feature will not show on the search page.

However, if the user finds your Google My Business page, they then can access the feature.

The feature only shows up on the search page if the user is looking for your practice specifically.

Messaging Potential Patients

Managing messages is fairly easy. It’s the same as texting your friends or family. Below you can see a simulation of a test we did with the system.

gmb-messaging-from-business

As you can see, the conversation starts with Google notifying you that a customer is inquiring. Then on the left side with the Purple Icon is the business and on the right is the consumer.

For the basis of the test, I used the Google app Allo. I have it because my family uses it as our group chat. However, documentation shows that users can also use their generic SMS application.

Editing the Phone Number for Messaging

Now I have some good news and bad news. The good news is you can use any number for Google Messaging. That means you are not tied down to the business number or you can assign the number to the receptionist.

Here’s the bad news: You can only assign one number to the messaging platform.

That’s right.

The messages can only go to one number which causes many operational issues. In an ideal world, different individuals could have access to the system and monitor messages.

For now, there doesn’t seem to be a fix, but we’ll keep this page updated if anything changes.

Using Messaging on Desktop

Google My Business messaging seems to be strictly on Mobile, however, there is one alternative. If you use the app, Google Allo, you can use the system on Desktop.

By using the web app, Google Allo, your messages will be available through your browser. Then you can monitor your messages through the computer, which is a little bit more organized and easier to organize.

Here’s what it looks like from the desktop side

allo-on-computer

As you can see, with a side panel of messages and the actual messages on the right side, managing the messages is much easier.

How to Get Started with Google My Business Messaging

Not everyone has access to the feature just yet. You’ll have to log into your Google My Business account and if you have access your dashboard should like below:

signing-up-for-gmb-messaging

You’ll notice that you can see messaging both on the left panel and on the main panel. If you don’t see it then it means that the feature has not been rolled out to you just yet.

If you click any of these, you will then be asked to fill in the phone number you’d like to use for messaging. Once you do so, Google will text you a verification code.

It’s a simple process that should take you less than 30 seconds.

Google Messaging Still Not Available for Everyone

Google has announced that it is rolling out the feature for every Google My Business. However, it seems like a very slow roll out with absolutely no patterns.

When checking verticals, experts say that it seems to be at random.

Even for our own agency, none of our veterinarians have the feature just yet. Which explains why we are using a taco caterer to demo the feature.

We encourage practices to check their Google My Business pages to see if they can activate the feature.

 

Sham Surgery: A Look at Placebo’s with Seth Godin

Today’s post comes after a great piece by the best selling author, Seth Godin and surgeon Ian Harris. In his groundbreaking book, “Surgery, the Ultimate Placebo“, Harris finds that sham surgeries have been proven to show benefits. A 2014 review showed that of 53 trials, 74% of sham surgeries provide some benefit while 50% worked as well as an actual surgery.

What is a Sham Surgery?

These are fake operations where patients are led to believe they are having a real surgical procedure done. This means they are taken through all the regular pre-and post- surgical operations. This includes fasting, anesthesia and even have incisions made in the skin. The Five Thirty Eight article even cites that in some cases, the patient is awake during the “sham surgery” and is shown a video of someone’s else procedure as if it was their own.

If your thinking these sound super unethical, you are right to believe so. The name pretty much has the word, sham. But surprisingly their done with the patients’ consent when trials are done.

Findings of the Study and What it Means

To understand the topic more thoroughly, I encourage you to read the Five Thirty Eight article. I’ve summarized the findings quickly below.

  • There’s an effective placebo when it comes to believing that you’re having a surgery to cure pain or sickness
  • A surgery’s invasiveness can also explain the strength of the placebo. The more invasive, the strong the placebo
  • Even an ineffective surgery may seem helpful as chronic pain can peak and wanes

What If Your Patient Isn’t Human

The ritual and promise of a surgery is a huge placebo when it comes to making one feel better. For pet owners who are concerned about their loved ones getting better, its just as important to create that sense of healing and pain relief.

Though in this case the patient is not the client, but rather their pet, there still is a lot that goes into creating the impression that a high quality of medical work is being done.

In our study of 1 star Yelp reviews, we found many 1 star reviews about physical exams.

Many users complained that they waited for an extended period of time. Once they finally got into the examination room, the veterinarian came in and didn’t even touch their pet.

Though physical exams may be one of the most routine, minor activities, to many owners, it is the pinnacle of ensuring their pet’s health. You need to create the impression that an intense, thorough job has been done.

In his book, The Art of Veterinary Practice Management, Mark Opperman writes to use an exam-room report card. The report card “outlines the steps the veterinarian took during the physical exam and emphasizes that the pet received thorough medical attention.

It’s just like wearing the white coat. The second it is on, the respect and attention of the patient is at 100%

Creating that Placebo for a Better Customer Experience

Just like the sham surgery, all the rituals and operations before and after the surgery are just as important as the surgery itself. This is especially true when it comes to creating that impression with the patient.

Consumers want to know that whatever they are paying for, they are getting the full experience.

This is especially true for medical treatment. Of course, there are many consumers who want to pay the absolute bare minimum, however that does not change the fact that the product/service you give must seem complete.

Those who want to bargain and penny pinch want to do so with a complete product/service. But I don’t want to pay too much attention to those money grabbing patients. Let’s discuss those who are ready and willing to invest in their pet’s health.

A Better Customer Experience Brings Better Customers

A better product brings more customers who are willing to pay. Look no further than Coach, Tiffany’s and Apple and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Customers of these brands want these products because of the quality of the products, the status that comes with these brands and also the overall experience of having the product.

Thus, you never see anyone trying to haggle with any of these brands about price. And if you try, good luck with that.

In the same fashion, your clinic must command that same kind of brand if you want to be attracting the best customers who are ready and willing to invest whatever is needed for the best care.

But before you can start bumping up prices and expect everyone to be ready and willing, you need to first ensure that your clinic is providing the best service in the area.

This also means, the placebo of your customer experience has to be there as well.

If you do honestly provide the best medical care and your team is unrivaled when it comes to expertise and care, it doesn’t mean diddly squat if your consumers don’t perceive it.

Thus its important to analyze every touch point with the consumer and identify if your practice is staying on top. These include:

  • Practice website
  • Waiting room
  • Examination Room
  • Look and friendliness of the staff
  • Exterior and Signage of the practice
  • Literature going home, etc.

Grab a list together and start tracking all the other practices in the area. Ensure that you at each touch point your clinic is providing a superior experience. Of course, there are some things you can’t readily change, for example your real estate. However, you want to address everything that you can. Visit our digital marketing company today.

Being Original Is Overated

There’s nothing like being inspired to maintain a blog. If you have ever dabbled in marketing or websites, you probably have had some motivation or goal to keep up a blog.

I’ve been there too. I’ve had numerous blogs that I’ve had the ultimate goal of contributing to every single day.

In most cases, I’ve failed miserably.

Recently I did some reading though and I think I came across the main deterrent to having a consistent blog.

Trying to be Original is Your Problem

There is this goal that we all have to create new content and ideas the world has never seen before. With the world at our fingertips and the internet is an equal playing field, I think we start to romanticize the opportunity.

What this ends up looking like is you sitting in front of a computer, trying to think of a whole new blog post idea that’s funny, new, and never been seen before.

This is the equivalent to trying to come up with a new invention every single day, its nearly impossible, especially when you have a bajillion other things to do during your day.

Before you know it, you have 2 – 3 blog posts published over a year ago.

Understand that Creativity is Not What You Think it is

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” — Steve Jobs

I wanted to start off this section with a quote I found from a great post that helped motivate me to write more.

Steve Jobs to many people is seen as the human embodiment of creativity. However, with this quote, I think it starts to bring the bar of creativity much lower.

Not to say that creativity is easy, but as we’ve discussed before, people seem to think of creativity as this super high bar that only years of pain can attain.

Change Your Frame of Mind

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be creative. You can simply just make improvements and combine different things to make something new.

So how do you translate this creativity into your business and blog?

A piece of great advice that I read from the post I cited earlier is to combine aspects of your professional life and happenings in your daily life.

For example, if you went to a coffee shop and had terrible service, you can relate that to your own clinic in a blog post. You can write about how your clinic takes certain steps to make sure that what happened to you, doesn’t happen to your customers.

Leverage What You Already Read & Consume On A Daily Basis

There is a lot of great content out there. Whether it be books, articles, TV shows, or podcasts. You most likely partake in this content as well.

Many of these pieces of content deal with the same thing that you are trying to accomplish.

They’re trying to create great content so that their users can engage and form a deeper bond with the brand. Much in the same way your veterinary clinic would like to engage more with the community and your current clientele.

This is where you truly have to be creative.

Don’t be creative in the sense that you need to think of something entirely new. Be creative in how you connect 2 different topics.

How I Connected My Favorite TV Show with my Profession

If you’d like an example, here is a running series I just started about The Simpsons and how it relates to Digital Marketing and Business.

How I was creative with it was not by trying to teach boring marketing and business lessons through clips of the Simpsons. Rather I found areas of the show that highlight everyday struggles and frustrations of marketers and entrepreneurs.

It’s much more of an amusing series than it is educational.

Alright, I’ll finish my shameless plug. But if you ever want to take a look, you are more than welcome to give it a read 🙂

Which brings us to the last point.

You Miss 100% of the Shots You Don’t Take

Creativity is all about being vulnerable. You cannot wait to come up with the perfect ideas. Because they never come and before you know it, months pass by and nothing has been done.

The only way to get your marketing efforts off the ground is to put yourself out there. Write posts. Some will be corny. Many won’t even be looked at. The point is that you have to keep doing it.

Once you continue producing content you will have attained a great level of experience and have a huge bank of content to show for it.

Specials and Deals Are a Terrible Healthcare Marketing Strategy

dental marketing deals

A marketing campaign based on specials is not a marketing campaign. It definitely isn’t something that builds a brand either.

I have had the great fortune of working with clients for a number of years. In this time, I have run a variety of marketing campaigns and deals. This is what I have learned.

Building a Brand Isn’t About Price

Giving discounts or lower prices on your products/services will never differentiate you. That’s something that they taught us in business school.

If you think you going to beat your competitors on price, you will not last long.

Price is overrated. It does not have as strong a hold on our day to day decisions as we think. Now, this may sound contradictory to everything you know, but it really does make sense.

Check below a video from RSA Events: Money has been shown to not be a great motivator in the workplace. It doesn’t motivate creativity and it certainly does not dictate our purchasing habits.

To punch the point home, how many times have you gone to Starbucks to buy a coffee that is 5x more expensive than buying a black coffee from your local donut shop.

Your Marketing Needs to Go Beyond Price

Saying that your marketing cannot be all about price. There has to be much more.

  • What does your clinic/brand stand for?
  • What words or messages does your brand send with your marketing?

When you creating your marketing strategy, think about what you will represent. To belabor a company that is always used in every case study, we will use Apple.

Apple stands for innovation and superior design.

They don’t give try to outprice their competition, but rather beat their competition through their brand.

For your business, you have to determine what attributes you would like to stand for. Does your clinic want to represent itself as the most technologically savvy clinic for the most tech-savvy pet owners?

Or maybe you want to be more of a family clinic where the whole family comes in together.

Stand for Something

One of the hardest parts of digital marketing is standing for something. This is because you will have to eventually siphon off certain parts of the market.

Think about Apple. Their brand alienates those who do not like technology and want simple, easy to use tech.

Your own clinic needs to stand for a certain brand and then understand that the implications will not outweigh the major benefits of having a strong brand that represents a concept or attribute.

Excellence in Marketing is Doing the Small Things Everyday

I have this joke. When the moon comes up, some people turn into werewolves. For me, when night falls I don’t turn into a mythical beast. I turn into a pig. A big, fat pig.

What I mean is I eat everything in site.

A sample of what I can chomp through on cheat days are:

  • medium pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut
  • milkshake from Baskin Robbins
  • Tacos from a local hole in the wall
  • Hot Cheeto Fries
  • Pieces of Milk Chocolate
  • Drumsticks from Costco

My problem? I’m a guy of extremes. If I have pizza one day, I can easily have it every single day.

So why am I going into detail about my disgusting habits with junk food?

It’s because I always tried to fight it with these big proclamations. You know, those times when you say your never going to eat ice cream again. Your not going to drink again.

You might say it with complete earnest at the moment, but after a good night’s sleep you know that it will wear off.

I Got Over My Craving By Doing the Small Things

After years of messing up, I just decided that I would take small steps/goals:

Goal 1: Only consume junk food at the end of the day

Goal 2: Junk food only on Friday, Saturday and Sundays

Goal 3: Junk food only on Friday & Saturday nights

Final Result: One cheat day every Sunday

The point is, big goals don’t happen overnight. They happen when you make small changes every single day.

How to Commit to Marketing

Sit down and decide what is the first step that you can take every single day to do digital marketing. For me, its always been to write. If I write every single day then I feel like I accomplished so much.

For you it doesn’t have to be abut writing. You could decide to take a picture with a client every day or maybe to save the best article about pet health every day

Just Pick One Small Activity That you can Repeat Every Day.

The key to success is to not add layers. For example, when I write I do not edit, I do not publish. I don’t do anything like that. All I do is I write continuously even if I feel like the piece is terrible.

Whenever you start adding too may layers, things get complicated and overwhelming.

If you have too many layers, the simple, repetitive task becomes too much. You have to spend too much energy and before you know it, your exhausted.

Add the Extra Steps/Layers Later

So if you are taking a photo with a client a day, only do that! Do not post it on Facebook. You’ll find yourself stuck with trying to write a good caption or debating when the best time is to post.

Get rid of all the extra stuff. Just focus on taking the picture.

At the end of the day, your just trying to develop the habit and the skill. Once you get used to taking the photo a day, it will become 2nd nature. Then you can add the habit of writing a caption.

Before you know it, you can create an entire post in one day or post engaging content on social media with ease.

In the same way you don’t do an entire body workout in one day, you got to think the same with your marketing. Don’t try to do it all at once, especially if your not use to it.

Start small, and you’ll develop a strong marketing channel for your clinic over time.

Marketing is Failing Often and Failing Fast

Recently I’ve been watching this show called Rick and Morty. If you don’t know what it is, it’s like Back to the Future mixed with Family Guy. I say that because the show airs on Adult Swim and is clearly not meant for children. There are two protagonists, a foul-mouthed, uncaring mad scientist grandfather by the name of Rick and an uncomfortably awkward, noble 14-year-old kid named Morty. Well just like Back to the Future, Rick and Morty often travel through space, interdimensional, and sometimes through time.

Naturally, the typical plot arises. Rick and Morty go to these different timelines with the knowledge that could alter the past and future. Of course, it starts to make you think about yourself. If there were five words you could say to the past version of yourself, what would you say? Marketing is a big aspect of my life and I spend most of my days trying to learn more and more. However, whenever you are committed to something you will also become insecure. It’s normal. When I got to thinking about what I could tell myself when I was  in my early days starting this career, I’d tell myself,

“Embrace failure. It’s going to happen and the more you do it the better you will become.”

The sentiment of this message is actually quite common and popular now. You’ll find it uttered by most entrepreneurs who are interviewed about their success. I can’t tell you how many times I heard it when I was going to school, sitting through all the different guest speakers who came to campus. What I think isn’t conveyed though is the degree of failure. When you say the word failure, you often think of a big fat red F on an elementary school test. Then you start to think of inferiority and lack of worth. It then seeps internally as you worry about whether or not you as a person are a failure. All the goals that you had set, how many did you not attain?

Well, pull yourself out of that. You are, not a failure.

What you need to realize is that when people talk about failure, it doesn’t mean catastrophic, end of the world failure. It means little mistakes and hiccups that occur on the road. Maybe its sending an email to the wrong person, saying the wrong thing 8at the wrong time in a meeting. Yes, catastrophic failures will occur as well, but the little ones also teach you a lot. You have to make sure that you are mindful and asking yourself about these little mistakes and failures. How can you adjust, what can you do better, what did the other party do to cause you to commit that mistake?

I’ve blogged about it so much, but I think this topic helps round out a common message I’ve given to those who are conducting marketing campaigns. Stop trying to be perfect. You cannot anticipate all the road bumps, angry customers, and mistimed execution. All you can do is get started and when little obstacles trip you up, get up, take a note and keep going. Digital Marketing is failing often and failing fast.

Follow the Narrative

digital marketing orange county

I was driving into work today and ESPN was discussing a rather interesting topic. Many of their reporters are also their broadcasters or radio personalities. What was being discussed was the viability of UFC and if the sport needed its stars more than the stars needed the league. It was brought up that many reporters who write about certain sports will tend to follow narratives. They gravitate towards certain players’ rise or journey or in Football ‘s case, they discuss the tradition and hardship of the city.

It got me to thinking. Many of these sporting leagues thrive under the stories they tell or how they handle their marketing. As an avid fan of the NBA, I can tell you that the league definitely follows individual stars rather than a team itself. Now I can’t say which method is better or not, but all I can say is that in the NBA’s case, the route they picked for themselves worked. They used a style of following individuals that fans can relate to. The figures that make people feel inspired or just awestruck. That’s why sometimes you’ll hear on broadcasts, they talk about some players being marketable or not.

Marketing isn’t About the Product. It’s About the Receiver.

This all reminded me of a topic that I learned back in school and when I was in college trying to read as many marketing articles as I could find. Marketing needs to revolve around things people can relate to. Marketing isn’t about the product or the service, what it is about is how it can benefit the customer, how it will make them have a better life. It can make them feel happier, sexier, confident, and so on.

When it comes to digital marketing for your business, discussing the attributes of a product is great. At the end of the day, you need to be sharing what sets your product apart from the competing ones in the market. To do that though doesn’t mean you just talk about the competitive advantage itself. You need to translate it into what kind of benefit it will bring to the customer’s life. Translate success.

Write that narrative. People love stories and many people love their own story. Make sure that your product or business can be a part of their story and that your product can do that for them.

 

 

90% of It is Being Present

While I was still in college, I was at an entrepreneurial conference that was held for university students. It was called CEO and it was all about inspiring students to really go at that start-up life. I remember at one of these sessions I was listening to a senior discuss what had helped him be successful. He had started a college start-up that helped men deliver gifts to their girlfriends. I know right, a college senior WOULD create a business like that.30

Anyways, one of the things that he mentioned to us was the concept of being present. He said that 90% of it is being there. It’s so easy to stay in bed and make up every different excuse not to go somewhere. The real success though is making that effort to leave your door and be present. Its been some years since I heard those words, but man has they rung true. Especially in Digital Marketing.

Being Present in Marketing

In marketing, we are plagued with many problems. One of those things includes gaining someone’s attention. We often cannot get attention because we ask for it only when we need it. That isn’t the best recipe. It’s like when a door to door salesman comes to sell you something. They don’t know you, you don’t know them and they are there really only to sell you something. That is it.

Of course, sometimes this works. Especially when the salesman happens to offer something of incredible value that you may need at the time. However, when thousands of companies and millions of salesmen and marketers are vying for your attention, its harder to get that lucky.  It’s the same reason why major sportswear companies like Nike hire athletes to market their brand. It’s because as consumers, we trust those athlete’s decisions.

Here is whereas a business you need to learn to be present. You have to locate places where you can add value. Maybe it’s at a local Chamber of Commerce, an online forum or a social media chat. Here’s where that college senior’s advice ring true. You have to be present, which is 90% of the success. If you expect to go in guns blazing, trying to sell your product in forums and chats where people don’t know you, you are likely to get burned.

You need to put in the work before. Be present, put in that 90%. Go to those located targets earlier and don’t sell. Participate in the conversation and be present.

Get in the Habit of Looking for Collaboration

Collaboration is the word that we all heard as Freshman in college. You know, being in those common rooms or classes and being taught that if we all hold hands, we can change the world. Well however, naive you think that is or if you still believe it, there is definitely some business success that comes from collaboration.

Marketing Collaboration is a Great Way to Grow Your Audience

Collaboration leverages the power of Word of Mouth. Thousands and millions of companies are out there. Everyone is trying to be unique and stand out. Well as a business owner you are an equal player with your own expertise. There are other businesses who are experts in other areas. At the end of the day though, they are trying to grow their audience and customer base.

It can be as simple as a Internet hosting company working with a web design company on creating joint content. Of course, you’d like things to go just beyond a simple advertising relationship. What is best is if your the hosting company asked the web design company to step in and be a guest on their blog/podcast or seminar. Offer advice on what businesses should prepare for they build their site or what to avoid.

It’s that simple.

You Don’t Have to Look Too Far to See This Collaboration

Go through your albums and songs. Go look at how many of those songs are collaborated. I recently have been addicted to the new Kanye West album, The Life of Pablo. And no joke, he features over 10 artists on this album. Yet here’s where I want to quell initial fears. Collaboration is stopped by insecurity of a business to be shown up by how good other businesses are.

Now let’s go back to Mr. West. Saving any of your preconceived notions of the man, he is in the discussion for best rapper. There are other great peers, but he is in the discussion. Now, with someone as so concerned about himself,  you’d think he be guarded. But no, Kanye features a multitude of artists to help him create even better music.

Kanye is Kanye. We’re Talking About Business

Of course this may seem trivial. As if I’m citing tabloid trash, but I think we need to think of Kanye’s position. As an artist/rapper, he has a business to run as well. He is dealing with millions. At the launch of the album he tweeted out that he was $53 million in debt.

If you were $53 million in debt, you’d be in crisis mode. It’s not a laughing matter or just another tabloid article. Its a serious, financial situation to be in. Well note that for your business, take a page from Kanye and other artists.

Utilize the talents and expertise of others in your community. Their collaboration can enrich your content.

Collaboration Also Exposes New Audiences to You

When your helping other businesses with their marketing, you grow your expertise. When you walk up in their, the other business is telling their customers and audience that you are someone to trust. That you know what your talking about. That means the company has already done the hard work for you. They got the trust.

Now its your job to deliver. Offer great value. Teach great content. Then you will have gained some leads for your business.

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect; Just Always Improve

Something I’ve learned through my years of doing this search engine optimization thing is that every year you have to be learning. New changes are made. Technology gets better, search engines update their algorithms and new, better programs are made to better do the job. Its just the nature of the industry. Those who refuse to move with the quick pace of the industry, quickly become obsolete. Recently though after a chance conversation with my gym owner, he reminded me that its not just SEO, its all fields.Continue reading