2017 Dental Marketing Year in Review

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After surveying hundreds of patients nationwide in 2017, we have compiled the following data to help your practice increase production and profitability in the coming year. In our proprietary survey process, we ask 25 key questions to uncover trends and changes in dental marketing year over year. This report details the cumulative data from three of those questions.

Would you search online for a practice like this one? [Yes – 70%, No – 30%]

The data shows a continued upward trend from last year, with 2016’s results indicating that 63% of patients would search online for a dental practice. That being said, you are still missing out on 30% of potential new patients if you are investing only in online marketing.

There are more than 50 marketing tactics that a dental practice could deploy, and of those, only a handful is right for your practice right now. The majority of practices realize higher production dollars and profits when the marketing plan includes the right combination of marketing tactics: brand/awareness, traditional, internal and online/digital.

What type of marketing do you pay attention to when searching for a dentist? [Referral – 37%, Online search – 21%, Newspaper – 2%, Email – 2%, Online reviews – 18%, Signage – 4%, Radio/TV – 3%, Social media – 7%, Direct mail – 5%]

While referrals are still the leading answer, they are down to 37% from 67% in 2016. Trends also show that the importance and significance of social media in a patient’s decision-making process is increasing. Recent studies show that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.[1]

This data illustrates another growing trend in marketing: patients, and consumers as a whole, will utilize and research on several different platforms before making a decision, especially when their health or that of their family members’ is involved. They may hear about your practice from a neighbor, scan your website, and check out your online reviews or social media profile. Then, without even realizing it, they may see your direct mail flyer that you sent two months ago in the stack of papers in their study. That totals four different contact points that they made with your brand before even making a decision.

Focusing on a single marketing tactic limits your pool of potential new patients, as well as your credibility and trustworthiness. By maximizing your marketing in a strategic and data-driven way, you will be able to target, attract and retain your ideal patient, building trust and strengthening the relationship before they even pick up the phone to schedule an appointment.

What would be the easiest way to encourage you to write a review or make a referral?  [Email reminder – 58%, In-office reminder – 13%, Handwritten note – 9%, Small reward – 21%]

Interestingly, email reminder is holding steady from 2016’s report. This data shows us how willing people are to sing your praises and send new patients your way, but generally one of two things tends to happen:

  • The patient gets busy with life and simply forgets to refer to you or write a review
  • The patient doesn’t even realize you are accepting new patients

People are very willing to send their friends and family your way or write a review, they just need to be reminded and it needs to be extremely easy for them to do so.

One way to do this is to send a monthly email reminder to your patient base with a link directly in the email for them to write an online review.

And, as always, we’re all little kids at heart and like to be rewarded/incentivized for “good” behavior. Offer patients a small gift card or account credit if they refer a new patient to your practice. Or, spice things up and enter their name in a drawing every time they refer, picking a winner monthly or quarterly.

Make sure to document all of this on social media, too. Your current patients need to feel the love, and your prospective new patients will want to be a part of that!

While these are the major trends we saw in dental marketing in 2018, our philosophy is that each practice has its own unique print in the world. Resist the temptation to copycat what everyone else is doing and explore all the possibilities for the best outcome.
Get a complimentary marketing plan for 2017 that is custom to your practice’s goals.

[1] https://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reviews-much-personal-recommendations-195803

 

3 Online Marketing Tactics Dentists Can Use in 2018

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Over the past 10 years serving the dental industry, online marketing has been a top lead generating tool for countless Big Buzz dental clients. Over the years, the types of online media have changed, ranging from SEO and online advertisements, to Snapchat filters to YouTube advertising. What’s next for 2018? Read on to find out what online marketing tactics you should pay attention to in the coming year.

1. Real-Time Content. You’ve likely heard of content marketing, and you may already be doing it. Perhaps you’ve been working off an editorial calendar that your team created in January based on your ideal patient/target persona. The content you’ve created has served a great purpose in educating your audience and providing your website with fresh content.

Take it up a notch: Implement real-time content into your strategy. Instead of just writing about brushing techniques or the benefits of implants, write newsletters and blog posts about current events, evolving technologies, and new services you offer. Your patients will get that much more out of your correspondence if it impacts and relates to their lives now.

2. Native Ads. Native ads are a type of paid advertisement that naturally flows with the user experience and blends in with the platform on which it is posted. An example of native ads is sponsored content on a website. The content may look like an article, but it’s really a paid media placement.

Why this is important now: If you are a specialist or CE provider and are looking to reach other dental professionals, consider writing thought-leadership articles that show your expertise, offer true value to the reader, and seamlessly blend into a respectable media source to build trust.

3. Deeply Personal Social Media. Social media is definitely something you’ve heard about before. More likely than not you have a Facebook page that you update every so often when someone remembers. That may have been your strategy (or lack thereof) last year, but this year, we want you to really engross yourself in it!

Personalize that page: The best dental social media pages are those that feature real, authentic images of the doctor, patients, office activities, and more. Those posts get the most interaction from patients so that conversations can be had. The point of social media is to be social. Stop posting only on holidays and appoint someone on the team to capture the true essence of what your practice is all about. Authenticity will shine through and potential patients will be able to connect with who you are on a much deeper level.

The Dangers of Duplicate Content

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Having quality content on your website is extremely beneficial in boosting your search engine rankings because that text tells the search engines what your website and its specific pages are all about. Search engines interpret the meaning of your web pages by looking at the text and keywords. If you want your website to appear for searches related to that text and keywords, you need original, quality content. When creating content, be sure to avoid duplicate content (content that is the same on multiple pages, or content that is the same as that on another website) as you run the risk of being penalized by Google’s Panda Algorithm. Panda, first launched in February 2011, penalizes sites for duplicate, shallow or copied content, and spam-like content stuffed with keywords.

Why does original content matter? Not having original content can cause a drop in rankings, therefore leading to a drop in website traffic. To provide users with a positive search experience, search engines limit the number of sites they show with the same content, forcing them to choose which site is likely to yield the best results for the user. Additionally, failing to feature unique content can lead to a penalization from Google, and once you’re on the search engine’s bad side, it’s hard to recover.

To avoid being hit with a Panda penalty, ensure your content is well written and contains no grammatical or spelling errors. Also be sure to include fitting keywords or phrases that help answer the questions for which users are searching. For example, including keyword phrases such as “the best kinds of tooth restorations are implants” can be beneficial for someone searching for “the best kinds of tooth restorations.” Make sure content is relevant, valuable and hearty in substance.

If you have already been hit by a penalty, it all comes down to identifying which version of the duplicate content is the “right” one. If there is content on the site that can be found in multiple locations, it is important to insert a canonical tag, which tells search engines a specific URL is the original copy of a page. The best way to do this is to set up a 301 redirect from the duplicate page to the original. Not sure how to handle this? Ask us for help!

Be sure all content you create is quality, original and full of substance. If you’re doing this, you are setting your practice up for SEO success!

Three Books That Will Make an Impact in Your Practice

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2018 is quickly approaching and that means hard-to-keep New Year’s Resolutions are just around the corner. Perhaps this year, you can divert from the traditional “lose 10 pounds” and instead commit to reading books that will make a lasting impact in your practice, far past next year. Here is a short list to get you started:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

If your plan for next year is to create a bigger, better practice and to grow your team, consider reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This classic is the foundation for which many personal and professional growth books are based. Read, understand and absorb the seven habits of Stephen R. Covey, and you will be primed for greatness in 2018 and beyond. Plus, these habits apply to work and life, making it a great read for anyone in a leadership role, be it a business owner or a parent.

Think and Grow Rich

If your plan is focused on creating wealth, read Napoleon Hill’s, Think and Grow Rich. Another true classic, this book provides everything you need to get into the mindset and practice of creating wealth for you and your practice. This book will help you to identify everyday behaviors and thought processes (both conscious and unconscious) so that you can consistently shift them to those of abundance, opportunity and success.

Why Can’t I Hire Good People?: Lessons on How to Hire Better

If staffing and team retention was a challenge this year, consider reading Beth Smith’s book, Why Can’t I Hire Good People?: Lessons on How to Hire Better. Smith clearly outlines how to hire powerful and passionate individuals who are a perfect fit. The right team will put your patients at-ease, help your practice to achieve more success and allow you to feel fully supported by a qualified staff.

BONUS:

If your 2018 is about attracting more patients, try KABOOM!: The Method Used By Top Dentists for Explosive Marketing Results. Request a FREE excerpt here.

 

 

Where to Put Your Marketing Dollars: Indirect vs. Direct Marketing

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There are over 50 marketing tactics that a dental office could deploy and it may be difficult to know for sure which tactics are best. Marketing typically falls into four categories: brand/awareness, traditional, online/digital and internal. More simply put, marketing can be either indirect or direct.

Indirect marketing may include things like SEO, social media, or patient appreciation events. These activities are a softer sell, and often reach people who may already know of your brand. For example, let’s say you are running SEO on your website. If someone is searching online for a dentist near them, your practice may appear in the search listings and they may visit your website, along with four to five others.

Direct marketing includes things like online advertising and direct mail. These activities speak directly to consumers’ needs and wants with more of a hard sell. For example, if that same online user from the SEO example is searching for a dentist near them, they may click on an online ad first. That online ad will go to a custom landing page that explains the patient’s first visit, introduces the dentist, and describes the new patient special. The messaging on the ad and landing page will be much more direct and targeted than what is written on your website and will likely attract a more intentional customer.

This is not to say that only direct marketing tactics are the right ones. Awareness or indirect marketing is extremely beneficial, especially if you’ve recently rebranded, moved to a different location, hired an associate, or know that word-of-mouth is a big driver of new patients.

How do you know what’s right to do then? Ask the people. We say time and again that no one knows your practice story like your happiest patients. Ask your patients how they heard about you, what stood out most about you, what made them stay, etc. They will light up with enthusiasm and gratitude about how you changed their life for the better, and you can then put those messages to market using the media they (and their friends and family) pay attention to most.

Ensure you are running the marketing tactics that make most sense for your practice, your goals, your budget and your target audience. Need help? Contact a dental marketing expert today.

How Patient Tracking Can Raise Revenue

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For the past 10 years, Big Buzz has helped dental practices nationwide to attract new patients to their doors. Using online marketing, social media, direct mail, and more, Big Buzz had implemented strategic marketing plans that yield real results. How? We ask the people.

Our most successful clients start with the Marketing Platform, which begins with Big Buzz surveying the practice’s ideal patient base to uncover trends and perceptions related to the practice’s unique brand. We ask how they found the practice, what attracted them most to the practice, what types of marketing they pay attention to, what they like and dislike about the practice website, and so much more. Using this data, we can pinpoint the marketing media and messaging that will resonate perfectly with your target audience.

How can you take advantage of this concept right now? 1. Contact us about creating your own Marketing Platform, or 2. Start tracking new patients on your own.

If option 2 is the best place for you to start, keep these ideas in mind:

Each time a new patient calls your office, make it a must for the receptionist to ask, “May I ask how you found our office?”

On all patient intake forms, make it a requirement for new patients to answer the question, “How did you hear about us?”

Implement call tracking software on your online ads and website to track where calls are coming from.

Why?

Once you uncover where new patients are coming from and how they are finding your practice, you will know precisely where to invest your marketing dollars in order to reach more potential new patients just like them. And that level of precision not only makes money, it saves money. No more throwing darts in the dark hoping you hit the marketing bull’s-eye.

Where your current patients are spending their time and seeking out healthcare information is where potential new patients just like them are also spending their time and seeking out healthcare information. If you’ve been running a television ad but realize that all your patients are finding you via Google search, reallocate those funds into quality SEO. If you thought you’d try Yelp ads but your patients are more active on Facebook, implement a Facebook ad campaign instead.

Ask your patients where and how they found your practice, record their answers, and implement changes based on what you learn.

So simple, yet so often overlooked.

Easily track new patient sources with your own custom dashboard. Schedule a demo to learn more.

The Top 3 Questions We Hear Most Often

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Since the launch of Big Buzz over 10 years ago, we have worked with hundreds of dental practices nationwide. Over the past 10 years, the questions we hear most often have remained consistent.

How do I set a specific, quantifiable goal?

The initial need for marketing is generally to increase new patient traffic. Often, it extends beyond that, to hire an associate, grow a specific side of the practice, expand to a second location, etc. At the heart of it all, though, is one uniform, underlying goal: new patient traffic needs a consistent, sustainable boost. In setting this goal, we find it most effective to picture the end result and work backwards. When you are reaching your goal, what will you be able to accomplish that you currently can not? When you are reaching your goal, what will that allow you to do in your personal or professional life? Now, in comparison to current new patient traffic, how many new patients will you need to see per month to make that vision a reality?

Why isn’t my current marketing, or marketing-to-date, working?

Marketing is effective and successful when it is comprehensive and consistent. If you are working with multiple vendors, cobbling together solutions from a direct mail house, an SEO firm, and the local newspaper, they are likely deploying and delivering mixed messages with incongruent strategies. If you can have one team of experts utilizing a comprehensive strategy and working together to deploy specific tactics, your marketing will be infinitely more successful; and, you won’t have to spend your precious time communicating and coordinating with multiple vendors!

Which marketing tactics will provide the quickest and healthiest ROI?

This is the most overlooked aspect of marketing. Throwing darts in the dark will not provide a healthy or sustainable return on investment. Trying the latest and greatest marketing tactic will not provide a healthy or sustainable return on investment. So, what will? Ask the people. Get in the habit of asking your patients regularly how they found you, what types of media they consume, what marketing they pay attention to, and where they look to find other healthcare practitioners. Even more granularly, deep dive with your ideal patients, those who you would love to replicate and attract in droves to your practice. In doing so, you’ll uncover exactly how, where and why they found your practice, and will be able to market directly to more potential patients just like them effectively and assuredly.

Marketing should be an investment, not an expense. Every tactic should be tracked and analyzed on a regular basis to ensure it is driving traffic, boosting awareness about your practice, and ultimately providing a return on investment. When implemented effectively, marketing will run like a well-oiled machine that is consistently bringing in new patients and those visions will become your reality.

 

What’s In It For Them? Use Your Team to Reach Your Goals

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As a dentist and business owner, you are capable of reaching your goals, whether they include attracting more new patients, increasing online reviews or growing the cosmetic side of your practice. However, it doesn’t mean you have to do it all alone. Having a strong team behind you not only allows you to focus more on dentistry, it also helps you to reach your goals in a more effective, efficient, and enjoyable manner.

Here a are three ways to do this:

1. Incentivize: Incentives can be a great way to encourage team members to work harder and stay motived. Once your team is fully motivated and engaged with the practice goals, the whole office can begin to reach its full potential. It is important to use incentives as rewards for stellar performance, not acknowledgment for status quo efforts. Together as a team come up with reachable goals that will be rewarded when met. For example, if the goal is to increase referrals each month, give the staff member who asked for the most a gift card to their favorite restaurant. When the staff feels appreciated and reaps the benefits of reaching the practice’s goals, they will work harder to achieve them.

2. Celebrate Wins: This is important no matter how big or small the win is. While it is nice to celebrate a big win, they are often only occasional. The celebration of a small win can have the same positive effect as the celebration of a big win. According to The Harvard Business Review, small wins can increase people’s engagement in the workplace and also their happiness while at work. Celebrating small wins evokes a sense of pride in an employee’s work making them want to create that feeling again by winning more. Small, but continuous steps forward by an entire organization result in larger goals being met or even exceeded.

3. Provide Feedback: Feedback lets your staff know how they are doing and allows for improvements to be made. Without feedback your staff has little to no idea how they are performing, which hinders progress towards your goals. When employees are provided with constructive feedback, the result is greater efficiency, higher functionality, and increased productivity. The staff is also happier because they have a clear picture into what they are doing correctly and what they can work to improve on. Constructive criticism is just one part of feedback though. Be sure to provide praise for actions that help the team to reach the practice goals. Reinforce those actions and you will see them multiply.

In the end, using your staff to help reach your goals will help more than just you; it will create a team that is excited, happy and motivated to work towards something bigger than themselves.

Create a Practice Manifesto and See Production Rise

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We’re approaching Q4 and the New Year is just around the corner. Are you on track to hit your goals in 2017? Have you even thought about your goals for 2018? If you feel a bit in the dark about where you stand, we have a starting point that will either revitalize your end-of-year strategy or jumpstart your 2018 production goals: create a practice manifesto.

What is a practice manifesto and why is it important?

A practice manifesto is similar to a mission statement in that it acts as you and your team’s guide for treating patients, living fulfilled lives, and achieving profitability in your practice. It is the compass from which each decision is made. It is the platform from which all care is delivered. Your manifesto may be written down, it may be verbally communicated, or it may be a series of images that visually represent your message. The important thing is that you have a manifesto and that each and every team member understands its meaning and is on board with putting it into practice on a daily basis.

In Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he tells a story of visiting a hotel that amazed him with its employees’ level of customer service and anticipation of customers’ needs. As he peered through the back door to the kitchen, he saw a sign that read, “Uncompromising, personalized service,” and when he asked one of the managers about it, the manager whipped out a full written mission statement that the entire hotel chain adhered to. Everyone who worked for the hotel believed in the idea of “Uncompromising, personalized service.” That was their manifesto, and it emanated out of every customer interaction.

Similarly, in a dental office, your manifesto may culminate in the idea of “Superior and Distinguished Care” or “Enduring Relationships, Lasting Confidence.” The core idea in your manifesto should be what permeates throughout your dental office. It is the feeling that each staff member puts forward and the differentiator that crosses each patient’s mind.

How does this increase production?

Once you have a manifesto, one that radiates throughout the practice, your employees and even your marketing (especially your marketing!), your ideal patients will flock to your office. The patients you desire value what you value. They want to receive the kind of care you offer. And more of your ideal patients means more productivity and more profitability.

Enlist a branding expert to help your office create a manifesto that will produce real results. Speak with a member of our team today.

 

 

Promote Your Practice on Social Media to Gain Patients and Increase Production

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Social media marketing is becoming increasingly important within the dental industry. Millennials and the Gen-X group are looking to social media to connect with others, seek advice and research information. When looking for a local dentist, many are looking to platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. Many dentists are unaware or unsure of how to maneuver social media sites or do not have the time or interest to put in the effort needed to see results. Below, we have outlined five ways to promote your practice on social media that are easy, quick and require minimal effort.

  1. Take photos of your practice. When your potential new patients are looking for a dental practice, they will want to familiarize themselves with the team and the aesthetics of the office before making an appointment. Did you get some new furniture? Post it. Hire a new receptionist? Tell the world. Make sure photos of the practice show it in its true light; fast paced and full of bright, healthy smiles.
  2. Take photos of your happy patients. There is no better way to advertise than to show real photos of your success stories. Post before and after photos, or share pictures of laughing children with genuine smiles. The photos can be anything from a patient in the dental chair, to someone simply smiling with a staff member in the reception area. Be sure to get written permission to post patient photos to social media.
  3. Designate one staff member to be in charge of social media. We have found that social media activity tends to be forgotten, especially when no specific person is in charge of the practice’s social media presence. Remedy this by designating one staff member to take on social media. This person doesn’t have to be a marketing coordinator; assign the front office person or patient coordinator to take on the task of posting to social media profiles. Start by asking your staff if anyone wants to spearhead social media and go from there.
  4. Like and share. Social media promotion is about more than just posting to your page. It requires interacting with other pages, too. Be sure to like other posts on Facebook or share fun dental facts on LinkedIn. These interactions don’t have to be 100% dental oriented. Be sure that you are interacting with your following in a way that interests them and you’ll be good to go.
  5. Follow the 80/20 rule. To follow this rule, post health facts and tips, photos of happy patients, and informative dental articles 80% of the time, and promote your practice 20% of the time. For example, once every two weeks, post that you are accepting new patients, ask for referrals, or tell your following to call to inquire about your new treatment offering. Your other posts should be upbeat and informative, and published about three times a week.

Social media doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Do you need some inspiration? Check out Dr. Hall of Hall Family Dentistry’s Facebook page. He does a great job keeping his following engaged. Regularly posting on social media will keep your practice top of mind for patients, so their chances of forgetting to show up for an appointment are reduced. At the end of the day, promoting your practice on social media will attract new patients and increase revenue for you and the practice. If you find that you still need help managing your social media page and attracting new patients, call Big Buzz at 720.350.4484.