Comparing Apples to Oranges… Or is it?

By October 17, 2016Blog

Let’s have a look at the differences and similarities between marketing startup practices and established practices, and what one can learn from the other.

 

Startup Practice Established Practice
Strategy First. The best foundation for a great marketing plan is a strategy. Gather together a group of mentors, past professors from dental school, and people who know, understand and believe in your vision for your practice. Try to include a handful of potential patients and any staff that you plan to hire. Survey this pool of people to find out what they think you do best. Ask them, too, what marketing media they think will be best received by your target audience. (Media might include direct mail, social media, online ads, etc.) Strategy at Last. In our nine years of experience, we find that about 95% of dental practices conduct marketing without a strategy. The best foundation for a great marketing plan is a strategy. Gather together a group of your happiest patients. Survey them to find out what they think you do best. Ask them, too, what marketing media grabs their attention. (Media might include direct mail, social media, online ads, etc.) If you have been sending practice marketing materials, be sure to ask specific questions to gauge whether they were seen or acted upon. (For example, “How did you first hear of us?” or “Do you recall seeing our ad on Facebook?”)
Understand the Competition. Make a list of the top 5-10 practices that your potential patients may consider before selecting yours. Be sure that the message and look that you plan to take to market are dramatically different and better than these competing practices. You might even have a friend or family member “secret shop” these practices to be sure that your atmosphere, services and fees are on par or even above par with what is available to patients in your community. Understand the Competition. Particularly with the encroachment of corporate dental, the competitive landscape is always changing. Every 2 years, make a list of the top 5-10 practices that your potential patients may consider before selecting yours. (You might even ask on the surveys what other practices with which they may be familiar.) Be sure that the message and look that you are marketing are dramatically different and better than these competing practices. You might even have a friend or family member “secret shop” these practices to be sure that your atmosphere, services and fees are on par or even above par with what is available to patients in your community.
Set a Brand Baseline. Take the time and invest the money to have the practice logo and identity professionally designed. (Identity includes letterhead, envelope, appointment cards, business cards, email signature and even signage.) This will go a long way in building your reputation and making your practice memorable in your area. Check Your Brand Baseline. Every 5 years, take the time and invest the money to have the practice logo and identity professionally designed or at least refreshed. (Identity includes letterhead, envelope, appointment cards, business cards, email signature and even signage.) Today, consumers expect fresh, new design in their brand interactions. After all, we get entire system updates on our smart phones every few months. If your logo and identity haven’t been refreshed in 5 years or more then they may be dating your reputation and making you less memorable in your area.
Wow With Your Website. As with logo and identity, take the time and invest the money to have the practice website professionally developed. The process should take about 6 weeks, and with regular security and content updates, a great website will last up to 5 years. Regular updates are like oil changes for your car; as routine maintenance, they shouldn’t take long or cost much but can drastically improve the lifetime value of your investment. Wow With Your Website. As with logo and identity, take the time and invest the money to have the practice website professionally developed every 5 years. Be sure that your developer is making regular security and content updates on your website. These updates are like oil changes for your car; as routine maintenance, they shouldn’t take long or cost much but can drastically improve the lifetime value of your investment.
Drive Traffic. The practice website is a billboard in the middle of the ocean until you drive traffic to it and, thereby, patients in your door. Look back at the survey results and deploy only those marketing tactics that are going to make your target audience sit up, take notice and take action. Drive Traffic Differently. Look back at the survey results and deploy only those marketing tactics that are going to make your target audience sit up, take notice and take action. What worked a few years ago may not work anymore. Continuously evolve your efforts to keep in line with the times and ensure a steady flow of patient traffic month after month, year after year.

Is yours an existing practice in transition such as merger or acquisition? Begin again under the “startup” column.

And no matter where you are in your practice history, remember that marketing is the oxygen to your practice. Never stop, or the practice will suffocate and perish.