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In-Market Shoppers.

Google dominates online advertising. The company reported revenue of $183 billion in 2020. More than $147 billion, or 80.3% of total revenue, came from Google’s ads business. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is on pace to grow 36.9% in 2021 to $250.6 billion in revenue. While regulators in Washington D.C. and Europe attempt to wrangle the digital advertising behemoth, smart marketers have noticed an interesting trend: brands are wasting a lot of money on television and Google search and not spending enough to target consumers where it matters most – when and where they are actually shopping for products and services.

Yes, many consumers go to Google or Amazon when searching for a product. But, there is a significant difference between buying laundry detergent, a pair of headphones or dog treats and choosing a healthcare provider. Some items are low-cost, low-risk purchases. Others require more information, more trust and a longer buying cycle. When consumers buy cars, homes, big vacations, tutoring, sports camps or orthodontic treatment for their kids, for example, they might start their search on Google but they often tap other sources of information; asking trusted friends, family and professionals; searching reviews; etc. before making the final decision.

Consider buying a home. You might use Google to obtain basic information or research about different neighborhoods in a particular area, but Zillow and Realtor.com command a tremendous amount of leverage in actually helping consumers find their next home. And, for now, realtors still help guide the lion’s share of home buyers towards a final decision. Similarly, the automobile market is dominated by Cars.com, AutoTrader, CarGurus, CarMax, and dealerships, not Google.

Elective healthcare providers are missing a tremendous opportunity when they put too many eggs in the Google basket. Yes, Google is great and Facebook can work really well too, despite their significant average ad increase of 47% last quarter. But you must also consider when consumers are in-market and where they make the decision to choose a new dentist or orthodontist for their family.

Where do you show up on insurance lists? Do you have good online reviews? What about your relationship with the pediatric dentists and pediatricians in your market? Do dental hygienists refer to you or a competitor? What about the moms in your neighborhood and the NextDoor app? Are your locations easy to find, visible, well-lighted with signage and a clean appearance?

If only 2 or 3 percent of the population at any time is actively shopping for orthodontic treatment or dental implants, how much would you have to spend and what kind of penetration do you think you need to achieve to reach them all on Google? Also, how many additional consumers might become interested in what you do and the problems you can solve for them if you show up and stimulate the idea outside of search advertising?

As more and more competition floods the Google Ads marketplace, ad prices will only go up. This demands that you think accurately and thoroughly about in-market shoppers and where the decision is actually made. It’s hardly ever at a single touchpoint. This is inspiring and exciting for those who embrace marketing and really want to grow the business in the next 18 months. It’s terrifying for everyone else, but presents a tremendous opportunity for you, when you take it seriously.

* For more information about your market and how you can find more consumers when they are in-market, reach out to my friends at Market Hardware. If you’re not already a member using their online advertising platform, ask them to conduct a market analysis for your practice area. I promise you’ll learn something and it’s a no-hassle, zero-obligation strategy call that I would clear my calendar to get done ASAP if I wasn’t already an extremely happy Market Hardware customer.


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