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Death by Directory: How Bad Listings Erase Business Opportunity

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

misdirection directoryA professional colleague shared this slightly aggravating-but-true story with us recently. Not to sound like a second-hand rant, but this experience spotlights a big marketing lesson about those pesky little online directory listings. In the end, fortunately, things worked out for the better.

This tale begins with a patient (our colleague) being referred from a health care generalist to a specialist. (By the way, the health issue was minor and purely routine, and this story applies to virtually any medical specialty.)

This patient opted for greater convenience and elected to take the referral to a specialist closer to home. A quick Internet search revealed listings for only four nearby providers:

  • One was long retired (deceased, actually),
  • One was incorrectly listed as the wrong specialty,
  • One had a robust website, but the practice was inexplicably closed; and
  • One had a local address, but the phone number was faulty.

To be as brief as possible, our friend needed to try many search variations, digging deeper for correct information on the nearby fourth provider. He searched through about a dozen online listings, trying different phone numbers, until finally getting through to a satellite office. (As a further barrier the website for that office “was down,” and apparently had been offline for some time.)

If our hero had not been an experienced marketing professional he would have quickly given up trying and taken his referral elsewhere. In the end, he was able to make an appointment as well as bringing the “death by directory” problem to the practitioner.

It was abundantly clear that the numerous faulty listings were slamming the door on business opportunities…mainly because directory information was out-of-date, incorrect or missing. (And—happy ending time—with the problem identified, it was quickly repaired.)

Hopefully you’ve checked your website, blog and social media entries and know they are in good working order. But what many practices overlook are the many and various online listings. There are more than you think. Some examples include:

  • Healthgrades, Vitals and other physician rating/review pages
  • Online YellowPages, White Pages and similar phone-based listings
  • Community business directory and chamber of commerce listings
  • Academy or professional association members
  • Manta and similar industry/business directories
  • Google, Yahoo, MapQuest local entries
  • Angie’s List, Yelp and similar references
  • Health Insurance company listings

Identify, verify and update all your directory listings…

At least once each year, invest the time and effort to search out all your listings—by doctor and practice name(s) in many variations—and confirm or correct the information. Directory listings typically have no cost, but if they’re wrong, you’re probably losing money. The basic elements are simply, NAME, ADDRESS and PHONE. Other details are a bonus, but N-A-P is vital.

Don’t let "directory neglect" work against new patient opportunity. An old address or incorrect phone number will send a prospective new patient into the arms of your competition in a rapid click or two.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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