Running a successful midwifery business or birth center in 2018 is nearly impossible without a quality online presence. Consumers today are used to interacting with businesses when they want, where they want, on their own terms.
That means potential clients are going to reach out online using phones, desktop computers, tablets, social media, business directories, websites, email, and many other avenues. If your business does not meet their expectations, consumers are likely to choose your competition.
But you’re a busy midwife trying to run a business! You went to school to catch babies, not market on the internet. How can you make sure you’re not being left behind online?
In this blog, I am going to outline a few of the most important things you can do to get your online presence off the ground. Many of these tactics don’t require formal training and are very low cost.
This article is meant for midwifery professionals who are new to marketing. We will follow-up later with a second article on how to choose an agency for your midwifery business or birth center for those who are looking for something more than a do-it-yourself approach to marketing.
No Website? No Problem.
When most people think of an online presence, they think of a website. While a website should eventually become the centerpiece of your marketing strategy, building a good one takes time, money, and expertise. It should really be left to a professional.
There are many places you can “hang your shingle” online outside of your website and these places are generally going to put you in front of more eyes than your website will, at least starting out.
Before search engines, finding anything on the internet was a lot like finding anything else. You either had to get directions from someone or you fumbled around until you found it. Now, more than 3.5 billion searches take place each day on Google alone and hundreds of millions of people have their questions answered.
Google is going to be your best friend online as it accounts for more than 65% of search traffic on the internet. Setting up a Google My Business (GMB) page is the first step you should take. Creating this listing is easy and free. Below is a list of information you will need to provide to complete your listing. This information is going to be the same for almost all search engines. It’s ok if you can’t fill everything out right now, but know that your listing will perform better when it is 100% complete.
- Business Name
- Business Phone Number
- Business Address
- At least 5 photos that present your business in a positive light
- Hours of operation
- Business category
- Services offered
- A description of your business that is <750 characters
Once you have completed your GMB listing, Google is going to ask to verify the listing. The way this happens is normally by mail (rarely by phone). A postcard containing a verification PIN will be sent to the address you provided within 10 business days. Once you receive it, log in to your GMB account, verify the listing using the PIN, and voila, you’re on Google. If someone searches Google for a business like yours, in your geographic area, you are in the game.
Bing has a service similar to Google My Business called Bing Places for Business. The process is very similar to setting up a GMB listing. Bing accounts for about 33% of US search traffic, so it’s worth taking the time to set up this listing.
Apple Maps is another service similar to GMB. It is important because a lot of iPhone owners use this platform to search for local businesses. About 40% of cell phones in the USA use IOS.
Once you are set up on these three search engines, you will have most of your bases covered when it comes to showing up as a search result. You never know how a potential customer may interact with you, but these three platforms should have you covered in most situations.
Social media has changed the way the world communicates. Much like search engines, social media platforms go to great lengths to connect people with what they are looking for. Because we are trying to meet consumers where they want to interact, it is important to have a presence on the most popular social media platforms.
Each platform has its own nuances, but the goal for each is the same. Use these platforms to build your brand by sharing news about your business, educating prospective customers about your services, and interacting with people and groups who are interested in what you are doing. These are great avenues for public discussion and can establish you as a respected authority in your community.
Facebook, despite receiving some bad press lately for how they handle data, is still one of the most active social media platforms on the internet. Almost two thirds of Americans have a facebook account and many of them use it daily. Facebook has spent the last two years overhauling the way it treats businesses by developing features that make it easier for businesses to cultivate communities and advertise.
Setting up a business page on Facebook is similar to the accounts we set up earlier on Google, Bing, and Apple. You will use almost all of the same information that is listed above. The verification process for this platform can happen over the phone, but sometimes Facebook requires a bill or other legal documentation proving the legitimacy of the business.
Twitter is great for those who like their social media quick witted and to the point, since it limits posts to 280 characters. Much like Facebook, Twitter is a great avenue for broadcasting information as well as interacting with anyone who might be interested in your business.
Instagram is the most visually driven social media platform we’re going to cover in this post. If you like taking pictures, this is the social media platform for you. What’s really exciting about Instagram is that 90% of its users are under the age of 35. More than 68% of its users are female, so this is a great platform for engage with women of childbearing age.
Useful, Unique Content
By this point, we’ve got you set up on 6 of the most important online marketing platforms for midwifery and birth center businesses. You should feel very accomplished!
We’re not done yet though. Now we need to start thinking about what we need to do to make the pages we created attractive to prospective customers. There are a lot of ways to do this, but you need to remember one golden rule: If it’s not unique, educational, witty or insightful, it does not have value. From here on out, it’s your job to make sure your pages are worth visiting. Below are a few of the most common ways to create content that will bring consumers to your business.
Blogging is one of the best ways to establish yourself as an authority. As a midwife, you have expertise that most women don’t have. If you share that expertise by blogging about topics your customers care about, people will start coming to you for that expertise.
Vlogging (video blogging) is a great alternative to blogging for those of us who would rather talk on camera than type on a keyboard. Most smartphones will be able to capture quality video. Don’t think that you need movie studio quality to be effective. Today’s consumers want to hear directly from those they are going to do business with. If you genuinely try to provide value through a vlog, the vast majority of people won’t care if it’s shot as a selfie.
Graphics are easier to create than ever and can be VERY useful on social media. Programs like Canva take a lot of the skill out of creating graphics. This is also a great medium for disseminating information in a concise way. In situations where a lengthy blog feels inappropriate, you can usually take the top one or two main ideas and create graphics.
Content Curation is the act of sorting through social media and highlighting the best posts. These can take the form of Retweets on Twitter, Shares on Facebook, and any other situation where you can collect valuable information and present it in a way that is easy for your community. If you do a good job of curating content, people will see that you are active and in the know.
Giving Your 2 Cents online can seem a little intimidating at first, but it can be a great way to interact with the communities you care about. As long as you keep a respectful tone and stick to commenting on topics that allow you to showcase your professional expertise, you will be fine. You can often find groups on facebook where mothers in your community post questions. Talk to them. If you see a hashtag on Twitter related to your expertise, click it and see if there’s a place where you can contribute. This is one of the most low effort things you can do, but it can pay dividends.
The Next Step
If you’re able to implement all of the above, you will set yourself apart from the vast majority of birth centers and midwife businesses. The barrier to entry for online marketing is low, but consistent work is rewarded. Consumers are used to a certain level of familiarity when interacting with businesses online. By following this guide you will not only meet that expectation, but exceed it.
If you would like to hear more about this topic, Peter Soto from the Grow Midwives marketing team will host a webinar on Tuesday, May 29 at 7 p.m. CST. where he will discuss the current online marketing landscape for birth centers and midwifery businesses as well as answer specific questions submitted by attendees. We hope you join us for what is sure to be a lively, informative conversation.