In this episode, Barbara and Ryan Cote discuss: 

  • Using various online platforms to drive traffic to your website and build authority in your field. 
  • How to best integrate print and digital marketing to expand local outreach.
  • Various ways to improve your website ranking and SEO for Google.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Use Facebook’s advertising platform and its targeting options to niche your audience. 
  • Create content that is optimized for the keywords that are searched for by your target audience.
  • Make sure your practice is listed in Google My Business.

“Small business marketing does not equal small ideas.” —  Ryan Cote.


Barbara Hales:             Welcome, everyone. This is your host, Dr. Barbara Hales,  with another great episode on marketing tips for doctors.

Today we have the privilege of interviewing Ryan Cote. He’s the director of digital services and partner at Ballantine, a third generation family owned direct mail and digital marketing company based out of Fairfield, New Jersey. With Ballantine since 2003, a family owned business started in 1966 by his great uncle, Ryan now manages the growing digital marketing division.

Welcome, Ryan.

Ryan Cote:                  Hey Barbara. So happy to be here. Thank you.

Barbara Hales:             What a lot of our professionals are struggling with is how to find their target audience online. They say that you should concentrate on the social media platform where your audience is, but a lot of professionals don’t know where that is. So how would you recommend they find them?

Ryan Cote:                  There’s a couple of different ways you can find your audience online. There are slight nuances with the medical field, but we can talk through that. Really, there’s two ways: there’s through social media, like you mentioned, social accounts; and then also keywords, like what keywords is my audience using?

Facebook has gone through so many changes recently that there’s not as many interest selects available in Facebook, but there are still things that we can target. So, the first way would be going through Facebook, Instagram, and browsing through the different advertising selects. You know? Facebook has their advertising platform, and that’s what markers like us take advantage of. And even though they’ve stripped down what selects you have available, there is still plenty of interests that we can target. So that’s the first, that’s the first way, is building a presence on Facebook and taking advantage of their advertising platform and the different interests and various targeting selects so you can advertise your ads to. Facebook owns Instagram, so you can do the same thing on Instagram.

There’s LinkedIn too; I think, for the medical fields, probably less relevant. That said, maybe not because with LinkedIn you can advertise to … You have different job titles and different industries, things like that, like more of a business to business type advertising platform, but also you can advertise to people that are part of specific groups. So maybe if there’s a group that is targeted towards the conditions that you specialize in, that might be a way for you to reach your audience with LinkedIn and target people that are part of that group. And there’s a group on almost everything from people that have gluten intolerance, to marketers, to CEOs … There’s different groups for many different topics.

I would say that’s for social media. And then finding your audience with keywords, that’s basically identifying the keywords that your audience, that your patients, that your clients, are using and getting in front of them with … And how do you do that? Well with search engine optimization, with Google ads, bidding on keywords … And I can get more technical if you want. You probably don’t want me to, but I can. And then creating content that’s optimized for those keywords as well. And so basically the first step, Barbara, is identifying the keywords that your audience is using and building out content for those keywords, optimizing your site for those keywords, bidding on those keywords in Google.

And what I like about this way of doing it is … these people have a need. They’re going to Google and they’re typing in whatever elements they have, or whate Set featured image 2 ver they’re trying to fix, or get help with. And so we know what they have a need, and they’re going to Google or Bing or Yahoo or whatever, and they’re looking for help. And so it’s someone that’s further down the awareness stage. They know they have a problem, or they need help with something, and they’re looking for help. And those tend to cover it higher into inquiries for your practice.

Barbara Hales:             So, when you say that someone should build out content for each keyword, are you talking about on a website directly? On blogs? On article marketing and publishing? Where is it that you feel it should be?

Ryan Cote:                  I mean, that’s a good question. So, there’s two schools of thought there. I mean, I would prefer to put the content on my actual website because the goal there is trying to create a hub where potential patients can find you. And it’s like your home; it’s what you own. It’s your foundation, and every new piece of content you add to your site is a way for someone to find you. Because what happens is you write the content. You add it to your site. It’s keyword optimized because you did your research in the first step. And eventually Google will find it, and they’ll start ranking it and start showing it for different keywords.

There’s also some value for writing content and putting it on other platforms to build up your authority. Maybe it’s medium, maybe it’s LinkedIn’s Pulse. That strategy is a little bit different. It’s less about organic that’s showing up for searches; that strategy is more about building up your authority as a medical professional.

You can even write content for other blogs, maybe association journals, your medical related websites, putting content on there. And that’s less about getting found for keywords; it’s more about, like I said, building up your authority. But if we’re talking about finding your target audience, I would start by putting the content on your site and then building up more of an organic presence. And then once you feel like you’ve got some momentum, well yeah, then you can start creating content for other blogs. And yeah, your potential patient could still find you by reading an article on another blog. But, to me, that’s like phase two after you’ve gotten enough content on your own website.

Barbara Hales:             You mentioned that there’s a smart way to integrate print and digital marketing. How do you suggest someone do that?

Ryan Cote:                  Yeah. I mean, the best way right now, and really the most simple way is because of these social platforms and the advertising options they give us, one of the options is taking a mail file and uploading it to Facebook. And you can do it with LinkedIn now as well. And so basically, let’s say you’re doing postcards to people in your media area, maybe it’s a 10 mile radius around your practice or whatever, and you get that list. And you can also upload that list to Facebook and LinkedIn. And what will happen is LinkedIn, Facebook, they’ll look at the mail file, email if you have the address, et cetera, and they’ll try to find matches of people on that mail file versus people that they know that are on their platform. And if there are matches, then you can run ads to those people. And so what happens is you’ve got your postcards going out, and then you’ve got ads going out and in the Facebook and LinkedIn feeds of the matches. And so, a certain percentage of those people are going to get your postcard, and then they’re going to see your ad in their feed.

And I think it’s really important nowadays too. Because we’re all so busy and we get hit with so many marketing messages every day, we can’t assume that they’re going to take notice of the postcard or even see the Facebook ad or the LinkedIn ad or whatever. You know? Those multiple touch points are very, very important nowadays. And that’s probably the easiest way. I mean, you can also do email as well if you’ve got it and then you’ve got email, postcards, and social ads going out, so then you’ve got three ways people can find you or see you. That’s probably, what I would say, the best way to integrate print and digital.

Barbara Hales:             Well I think that’s really quite sensible. Tell me, Ryan, when we talk about brand awareness, how do we get people to recognize our brand? After all, we’re not Coca Cola or Pepsi or a big company. How do we raise brand awareness of ourselves and our practice in the real world?

Ryan Cote:                  Yeah. I mean, I think that the best way to do that, keep in mind that we’re not Coca-Cola with gigantic budgets, is that really comes back to the phase two I mentioned of the content. You know? Creating content for other platforms that are already established. Of course, you want to have your own website buttoned up and content there, but creating content for popular websites in your field … I would even say, if we’re going to go real local here, is local websites: creating content for the local website, local community sites, building up your brand awareness as the community doctor for whatever.

And then I would even … To me, it’s even making sure that the basics are buttoned up like with your website, and with the search engine optimization. Every page has a title. And you want to make sure that your name, and your practice name, is in the title as well so that when your site starts to show up for keywords … Because you’re writing content, you’re doing search engine optimization, you’re out there marketing yourself, people are seeing your website more and more, they’re showing it for more keywords, every time your site shows up in the search results, you want your name, the practice name, your name to show up in those search results.

And so it’s like simple things like that, that just … The repeated exposure to your website, to your content. And then I would even say if you’ve got a budget for the social ads, like we talked about before, that’s … Social ads can be … They can be lead generators, but it’s also a brand awareness play because you can basically say, “Okay Facebook, show my ad to people within a 10 mile radius of my practice address.” Maybe it’s the grand opening special. Maybe you’re announcing a new doctor that’s in the practice. Whatever the case is, social ads tend to be more of a brand awareness, especially for the medical fields. So that’s another way that you can build up your brand awareness.

Barbara Hales:             I see. Well there was a quote that I would like to mention at this point and have you really expand upon this. You mentioned small business marketing does not equal small ideas. That’s a great quote, but what does it mean exactly?

Ryan Cote:                  Well what I mean there is that we have … You mentioned Coca-Cola before. And the truth is we all have, because of the digital landscape and direct mail too, we all have the same tools at our disposal. We all have the ability to … We might not have the same budgets to just completely saturate TV, but that’s not really relevant here. In terms of digital, we all have the same tools at our disposal. We all can run … Coca-Cola and a local doctor: they can run Facebook ads, they can run Instagram ads, they create content, they can do SEO, paid search. All the tools that gigantic companies have, we also have. And so just because we’re small businesses, we’re a small business too, it doesn’t mean we don’t have the same options as the big companies. We can still create an integrated marketing plan where we’re reaching potential patients across Facebook, and across Instagram, and Google, and creating good content. And so just because we’re so small businesses doesn’t mean you need to market small.

Barbara Hales:             Okay, that sounds good. And what would your advice be on how to improve your website ranking on Google?

Ryan Cote:                  Well, yeah. This could be a topic all on itself. So let me give some tips, like real key takeaways, that your audience can implement right away.

So first step is, and we already talked about this, but making sure that you understand the keywords that your potential patients are searching Google for. And I can give you a free tool for that. I’m not affiliated with it; I just think it’s really good and they’re always improving it. It’s called Ubersuggest it; you just Google Ubersuggest. And it’s a tool that helps you do keyword research, and it’s free, and essentially … It’s surprising and it’s free because it’s pretty robust. But-

Speaker 3:                   So you’re saying … Excuse me. You’re saying “Uber,” like U-B-E-R, like the car service?

Ryan Cote:                  Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 3:                   Right. And then “suggest,” S-U-G-G-E-S-T.

Ryan Cote:                  Yep. And then it’s dot-I-O. So, you want to And so that is a key … It does a lot of things. It’ll scan your site and look for broken links and things like that, but it also is a pretty powerful keyword research tool. So the first step is make sure you understand the keywords that your potential patients are searching for, and that’s a good tool for that. And then the second thing is you want to make sure those keywords are on your website, we’re creating content for those keywords, that you have different pages on your site for the different ailments, conditions, that you specialize in. So you want to have enough content on your site where Google has enough to grab onto. Don’t make your site a one-page website. You know? You need to have your homepage, your about, contact, all the different conditions. So basically, give Google the content it needs to rank you, and make sure that content has the right keywords in it.

Google My Business is very important as well. If your practice is not verified in Google My Business, that to me is like priority. So that’s And that’s basically Google’s local tool. It feeds Google maps. You get your practice verified on there. You fill it completely out: your address, your hours, your website, photos. Just really go crazy. Spend a half a day on it, and just … I mean a few hours. And just fully complete the entire thing, so when someone’s Googling your name, like your name or the practice name, that’s going to show, and it’s a good representation as to what your practice … You know? The hours, where people can find you. And it helps you rank in Google maps, so it does feed into SEO.

The last thing I would say is called link building, and that’s other websites linking back to you. And there’s many ways we could do this but previously, Barbara, we talked about creating content for other websites. And typically, when you create content for another website, you have an author box where like … You know? “Barbara Hales is …” Whatever, you know? Like, your bio, and then usually a link back to your website. That’s a great way to build links.

I would say look at what sources you have, for like … what sites you know you create content for, and then usually get a link back there. Make sure you’re submitting your website to all the major directories, all the major local directories. Make sure you’re popping your website into your social accounts. Just look for opportunities. Like when you’re doing speaking events, usually they’ll link back to the speaker’s website. If you’re doing community events, charity events … Any opportunity where you might be able to get another company to link back to your website, it will help your rankings. It’s one of the … still is a major ranking factor in Google.

I think that’s … I think I’ve given a lot of tips there. I don’t know if you have any questions on that.

Barbara Hales:             Yeah. I think that’s great advice. How would somebody who wants to populate their content on other sites, how would they find which sites would be amenable to that?

Ryan Cote:                  Yeah. That’s a good question because sometimes you don’t know. Like some websites, they’ll have a page on their site that says, “Write for us,” or “Accepting guest bloggers.” So basically, these sites are openly saying, “Hey, we want your content.” Because if you think about a blog or whatever, they need content. So sometimes they get that … Like Huffington Post is a perfect example. They accept content from other writers because they want the constant content.

But I would say two things. I would look at, depending on where you are, Google all the local websites in your area and see which ones are accepting content. Sometimes you have to ask, like say, “Hey, I’m a doctor in this community. I would love to create a series of articles on your site about how to prevent …” X, Y, Z, or whatever the case is. And they might love the idea of having a doctor in their community creating content for their website, and then you get a link back to your site.

I would also look at maybe association journal type websites and just pitch yourself. Then it becomes a little bit like PR, but pitch yourself like, “Here’s who I am. Here’s my credentials. Here’s the content I want to write. I think your readers would like it because of …” X, Y, Z. And yeah, and a certain percentage will say yeah, so then you have to start writing the content.

Barbara Hales:             Well, Ryan, you’ve given us a lot of great tips today. And it’s actionable steps that I’m sure a lot of our listeners can get ahold of and start with right away.

Ryan Cote:                  Thank you. Thanks for having me. And thanks, everyone, for listening.

Barbara Hales:             Thank you so much for being with us today. And for our listeners, how can they reach you if they would like to speak with you directly?

Ryan Cote:                  Sure. Thanks, Barbara. So we actually created a special landing page for your audience, and on there is an offer for a free video review. Basically, me looking at your website, giving my thoughts through Screen Share, SEO, looking at your social and all that, and it’s like a 10 minute video that I personally record. And so if they want to go there, if they want to take advantage of that offer, the landing page is, marketing tips for doctors, MTD. And on there is my LinkedIn page as well. I would love to connect with anyone.

Barbara Hales:             Well that’s very generous of you. Thank you very much, and thank you for being with us today.


Connect with Ryan Cote:  

Connect with Barbara Hales:   
Twitter:   @DrBarbaraHales 
Show website:

YouTube: TheMedicalStrategist