Marketing Networking

How digital marketing is helping South Florida small businesses grow

By Dan Grech / Guest Contributor

Antonio Otero, D.D.S., has grown his family-owned dental practice to seven locations throughout South Florida. Like any businessperson, he was always on the lookout for ways to attract new customers.

“I had joined business networking groups, advertised on radio and TV, but I still wasn’t able to attract the amount of new business I was hoping for,” said Dr. Otero. “Then my daughter, Angela, our Chief Marketing Officer, learned how to use digital marketing – specifically digital advertising on Facebook – and our business grew significantly.”

Small business owner Antonio Otero addresses a BizHack cohort. Above, Dan Grech teaches a course.

I met Antonio and Angela Otero in early 2019, when Angela enrolled in an intensive social media advertising course that we offer at BizHack Academy. I founded BizHack to show step-by-step how businesses like Otero Dental Centers can generate leads and sales using digital marketing.

Angela has an MBA with a concentration in integrative marketing from Lynn University, so she knew the theory. But her coursework didn’t give her the practical skills to apply what she learned to her family business.  Our instructors worked with Angela to show her how to take advantage of the advanced targeting options on Facebook to help get her message in front of the right audience.  She experimented with different digital campaigns in class and finally settled on targeting Spanish speakers over age 55 who were using Facebook Messenger.

Angela Otero

“I created a Facebook ad campaign in class using custom and lookalike audiences,” said Angela. “I then learned how to retarget people who watched the video I learned to create in class. I targeted prospective clients who spoke English or Spanish at one point and then just Spanish at another time.”

Angela used her newfound knowledge and insights about her customers to build an automated series of messages using Facebook Messenger and the software Manychat. She ran Facebook video ads to pique the interest of prospective patients, then she engaged them with a series of questions about what kind of treatment they wanted and which location was most convenient to them. Her approach to online marketing was to mirror the familiar feeling and attentive care that patients can expect from her team of caring dentists.

It took a lot of personalized coaching for Angela to build and fine tune her automated messaging campaign. But her months of work paid off. Her Facebook campaigns generate a steady and predictable stream of profitable new customers to the Otero offices in West Kendall, Country Walk, Coral Gables, Hialeah, Homestead, Weston and their newest location in Aventura.

Angela spends an average of $3,000 in digital ads per month, and she brings in 15 times as much in new revenue ($45,000 a month). Online lead generation has become a critical driver of growth for Otero Dental Centers, paving the way for the family-owned practice to expand to two new locations in the past year.

Research has shown that consumers are twice as likely to be influenced by targeted digital ads than organic content posted in a Facebook News Feed or on a website’s blog. Targeted ads can be created on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites, as well as on Google, Yelp, Amazon and other search engines. Ads work so well because their messaging and content is hyper-targeted to a specific audience; that kind of targeting isn’t possible with organic posts – let alone television ads or billboards.

Learning how to create digital ads can be challenging.  But once you understand how to do it, your business will never be the same.  “Social media advertising has transformed our dental practice,” said Dr. Otero. “It can do the same for your business whether you have a dental office, a Pilates studio, or a roofing business.”

In 2019, BizHack helped nearly 100 South Florida businesses get started with social media advertising. These businesses generated more than $500,000 in additional revenue with an ad spend of just $17,000. That’s $29 in revenue for every $1 spent in advertising. The growth our team helped spur in South Florida businesses led BizHack to be named a top startup in 2019 by The Miami Herald.

The potential of digital advertising is huge: When set up correctly, ads are a powerful way for business owners to get the right offer in front of the right audience. It just takes knowledge and a bit of practice. I asked Angela what advice she’d give to a business getting started with online advertising, and here’s what she said.

  • Take the time to establish a solid foundation for your campaign. Angela spent six hard weeks working to identify her ideal target audience, the right offer and an effective customer journey. Too many business owners don’t spent the time on marketing fundamentals, and then they’re surprised and disappointed when their ads don’t work. But their campaign was built on a shaky foundation.
  • Any and every audience can be found on Facebook. Recent stats found that half of the people in the world are active users on at least one of Facebook platforms, which in addition to Facebook includes Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. That number jumps to 80% when you look at just the US. Whether you target individuals or corporations, sell a product or service, your customer can be found and meaningfully engaged on Facebook. Every business owner owes it to their business to take the time to learn how Facebook ads can work for them.
  • If at first you don’t succeed… Angela did not find immediate success. It took a lot of experimentation and trial and failure to arrive at her results. But if you put in the work you’ll get there, and it could transform your business and your life.

Dan Grech is the founder and lead instructor of the digital marketing training provider BizHack Academy, which offers in-person classes, corporate training, and online courses for business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals.

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