I’m a lifelong learner. I just can’t help myself!
I guess all those years studying, first to get into Uni, then at Uni, and then to maintain my CPD points, are to blame. Although it could just have easily gone the other way…
Like you (assuming you’re an Aussie Dentist), I need to keep up to date with what’s going on in my industry. And, like you, this means I need to be abreast of a quite a number of areas that could be considered specialisations in their own right.
Unlike you, the topics I study are no longer preventive dentistry, dentistry for the aged, the worn dentition or adhesive technology.
Instead, I study:
- Digital Marketing Strategy
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Local Search
- Social Media (especially Facebook Marketing and LinkedIn, but also Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest)
- Website Development
- Content Writing, especially as it relates to creating static pages for dental websites
- Content Marketing- the development of high-quality content for Australian Dental Practices
- Pay Per Click Marketing (In particular, Google AdWords and Facebook Advertising)
- Google Best Practices
- Australian Consumer Law (studied from the point of view of an organisation that needs to comply with the law)
- The National Law, Advertising Guidelines and Code of Conduct as it relates to the practice of dentistry in Australia (clearly, I’m not a lawyer, and have no intention of becoming one, but it’s important to have a good understanding of the content of these laws, codes and guidelines)
- Copyright, and how it applies to digital marketing
- Website security, hosting and other important aspects of website ownership and control
Keeping Up-To-Date With A Rapidly Changing Landscape
Since the internet is evolving so quickly, the best place to learn about the changes is often not to be in a classroom or its online equivalent. By the time the latest updates can be formalised into a sit-down course, the internet has galloped ahead, making many pieces of wisdom redundant.
For this reason, I’m a member of several online forums and mastermind groups. These are led by some of the most respected leaders in the various specialisations of online marketing. As the internet changes, these thought-leaders provide my colleagues and me with their insights and predictions.
These communities are wonderful because members are usually very proactive, very knowledgeable and willing to share their own observations, experiences, and results. I enjoy being an active contributor to these groups, and to benefit from the shared skill-set of dozens of like-minded people from around the world.
I also monitor social media on a daily basis for updates from industry leaders as well as platforms like Google and Facebook. And when digital marketers come together for major community events, I attend when I can: and when I can’t, I’ll access the recordings.
It takes hours every week to keep tabs on what’s happening in the online world. If not for these professional connections and networks, it would be an impossible task for one person.
Maintaining An Understanding Of Best Practice
In dentistry, despite rapid changes in technology, some principles stand the test of time. Much of what you do on a daily basis is similar to what you did 10 years ago.
It’s much the same on the internet. There are some Gold Standards that prevail, and these can be taught in a more formal manner.
Now, there are some good courses out there, taught by industry experts, and there are some shockers (some run by the online equivalent of snake-oil salesmen, others by people who don’t have the breadth of knowledge required in this area). Unfortunately, many people claiming to be trained as SEOs or Social Media Managers have enrolled in the latter.
When it comes to formal training and certifications, I’m pretty discerning, just as you are when you choose where to spend your CPD dollars.
You probably prefer to be taught by someone who has the nod of the ADA. In my profession, there isn’t a professional body able to endorse individuals: but there are industry leaders like Brian Clark, Rand Fishkin, Joe Pulizzi, Mari Smith, Mike Blumenthal and Mary Bowling, as well as Australians such as David Jenyns, Troy Dean and Jen Sheahan (nearly an Aussie!) whose teachings are generally considered best practice. I follow all of these folk, am in mastermind groups or forums of most of them and have been personally mentored by two.
What This All Means For You
I’ve written elsewhere about why I don’t call myself a “Dental Marketing Expert” or claim to be the best in any given field.
I know a lot about digital marketing. I have a unique insight into how online marketing fits into Australian Dental practice. I have a good high-level view of all the machinations of digital marketing, I know many of the platforms and tactics in great detail, and have been around long enough to see what happens when you work within AHPRA and Google’s guidelines, and when you don’t.
But I also know, like you probably are, I’m still learning.
Good dentists always are.