Put Your Marketing Where Your Mouth Is

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The Disney Institute, which my team and several dentists that I know have attended, encourages us to “focus on brand identity, delivering superior value, and building relationships to create loyalty with your customers and employees.” In all that they do, Disney executes a Chain of Excellence: Leadership excellence gives way to employee excellence, which leads to an extremely high level of guest satisfaction, and that turns into repeat business. [1]

This Chain of Excellence allows them to deliver upon their brand promises, one of which is that each of their parks is “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Only when customer service is at its best can that promise come true. It is Disney’s goal to treat each guest like a VIP. And they do.

Until they don’t.

On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, this is what my family experienced:

When we arrived, the bellhop seemed sad and tired. The front desk person who checked us in was so exhausted and distracted that he could hardly speak. We were never once addressed by name – hardly the Disney way. One employee regaled us about how she had been annoyed by how another employee had handled a situation entirely unrelated to us.

A food services employee dejectedly replied, “Over there,” with a halfhearted gesture when I asked where to pick up my order. Another told us our MagicBands just “won’t work.” No apology, no explanation, no alternative.

There was a custodian who simply muttered, “Oh,” when I pointed out that the water fountains didn’t work. There was the guest services employee who flatly told me, “It doesn’t work like that” when I had a question about the meal plan. There were the half-dozen or so employees who told us “we’re closed,” “that’s not on your meal plan” or simply “no.”

(While it would be unrealistic to expect a “yes” to every request, Disney’s Cast Members, as all employees are called, are trained in basic improvisational acting. They are taught to start with, “Yes, and…” For example, “Yes, we are closed, and you can get lunch right down the way here, let me show you…” It harkens back to their commitment to excellent service.)

And, on the last day, as we were leaving, there was this conversation that I had with one of the employees:

HER: How was your stay?

ME: Not very good.

HER: I’m sorry to hear that. They tell us to say it’s a magical place… but it kind of loses its magic after you work here. This is just a job for me.

That was our kiss goodbye, as Disney likes to call it.

This is a classic example of brand breakdown, and we see it all the time in businesses and in dental practices. We make big promises in the marketing messaging then we deliver an entirely different experience. The result: unsatisfied customers, and discontinuation of repeat business.

Put your marketing where your mouth is. Survey your best patients to understand why they are loyal to you, put that message to market, and then train your staff to deliver upon that promise every day in every way.


[1] Source: Disney Institute, Disney’s Approach to Business Excellence

Why the Dentist’s Opinion is Only 1% of the Brand Story

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The most common way for a dental practice to formulate its brand is from the mind of the dentist, and it is most typically (and mistakenly) limited to a finite set of items, perhaps the name, logo and sign.

In actuality, brand is the collective perception of the total practice and it comes from 99 more slices of pie, which may include:

  • That the practice has 17 positive online reviews and 4 negative
  • That the phone is answered in two rings when the patient calls to make the appointment
  • That there is a pothole on the road leading up to the practice, and the fact that the patient happened to miss it this time
  • That the practice’s sign is easy to read from the street
  • How freshly painted the lines are in the practice parking lot
  • The fact that the patient happened to score the best spot in the lot
  • The old piece of gum that’s been stuck on the sidewalk right out front of the practice for the last 68 days
  • The fellow tenant who always has a smile on her face and happens to say, “Good morning!” to your patient as she enters
  • The movers’ quilts in the elevators that the landlord keeps saying he will remove but hasn’t yet
  • That the front door squeaks when the patient enters
  • That the front desk team is dressed in matching shirts with freshly styled hair and nicely groomed fingernails
  • That business cards, brochures and other takeaways are displayed neatly on the front desk
  • That there is filtered water, tea and coffee available in the waiting area
  • That Alice at the front desk chooses to engage the patient in light, easygoing conversation
  • That the patient waits 7.25 minutes before being taken back
  • That the dentist himself arrives in the waiting area to take the patient back
  • That the patient feels comfortable – physically, emotionally and psychologically – at this, the critical moment before care begins
  • That the hygienist remembers the patient’s daughter’s name, age and grade, and asks meaningful questions about her
  • That it is fully explained why X-rays are needed and what can be expected while the patient is guided to the X-ray room
  • That the tiles are slightly coming up from the floor in the hallway
  • That the bitewings are extremely carefully placed given the fact that the patient has mandibular tori
  • That the X-rays are efficiently and effectively taken
  • That the patient is able to immediately and clearly see the X-ray results
  • That the X-ray results are thoroughly explained to the patient
  • That the patient is asked if he/she is comfortable before the cleaning
  • That the cleaning is efficient and effective
  • The fact that the protective eyewear is a pair of fancy sunglasses, just for fun
  • That the exam is efficient and effective
  • That the patient hears her name and a comforting statement directly prior to the injection being administered
  • The manner in which the injection is administered such that there is no pain
  • The manner in which the cavity is filled such that there is mild discomfort but nothing that makes the patient complain
  • That the assistant thanks the patient at the end of the cleaning, exam and treatment
  • That the patient is given a new toothbrush and floss plus an extra little surprise to take home in the goodie bag
  • That the dentist himself leads the patient back to the waiting area
  • That the dentist thanks the patient at that time
  • That there are two patients in line at checkout and the patient has to wait 10.75 minutes
  • That the practice payment policy is not quite clear to the patient, even though she has been coming here for years and is not going to ask about it
  • That Alice at the front desk makes it easy to schedule the next appointment
  • That the artwork and fountain create an ambiance as the patient prepares to leave
  • The passing orthodontist who says, “Bless you!” when the patient sneezes
  • That the dentist personally calls the patient to check on her after the visit
  • That the patient laughs and, at least once, seems to have a darn good time during the visit

Extraordinary brand is all in the details. What are your details saying about your practice?

How Tomorrow’s Patient Will Find Your Practice

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Sure, you know to ditch the phone book listing in favor of online advertising, but are you really on the cutting edge of marketing?

Your patients are.

Here are three emerging trends not to miss:

Now on Tap. This Google app is a “a sleek, impressive, and ambitious demonstration of machine learning that sits always at attention, ready to sift through the pile of data your smartphone is constantly producing in order to make your life easier.” (Source: http://bzfd.it/1BMQ0L6) In other words, it may help close the gap between your future patient’s mobile search for your practice and getting that patient in the chair at your office.

Mobile-Friendly Website. You likely saw the news that Google now strongly favors in its search rankings those websites that are optimized for use on mobile devices. But did you know that 70% of searches carried out on mobile devices lead to action in under 1 hour whereas only 30% of those carried out on a desktop computer lead to action in 1 month? (Source: http://bit.ly/1DczmnD) Time to get mobile!

Quit Stressing about the Scroll. In the old days, dentists fretted that website visitors shouldn’t have to scroll down the page to read content. Not so any longer! In fact, “More engagement happens right at and below the fold than above.” (Source: http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1946) The fold is the point at the bottom of the website before any scrolling takes place. As long as content is relevant and laid out with excellent user experience design in mind, you’re good to go.

Keep up with the times to keep up with the patients that help your practice and passion grow and thrive.

The Thought Leadership Challenge

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The late Dr. David Winn was nationally renowned for his expertise in laser dentistry. Dr. Brett Kessler is celebrated for his dedication to restoring the smiles of recovering methamphetamine addicts so that they can return to the workforce. Dr. Anil Idiculla is known for his philanthropy, as he donates his time and resources to more than a half dozen charities on a regular basis. Dr. Aldo Leopardi is known for his rock-n-roll music and edgy music videos.

What are you known for? What do you want to be known for?

What do you know about? What is your area of expertise, passion or deep interest, either within or outside of the field of dentistry?

The answers to these questions will begin to reveal your area of thought leadership. Denise Brosseau, author of Ready to Be a Thought Leader? defines thought leadership as “your driving passion… the one area where your interests, expertise, credibility, and commitment align.”

Not only is thought leadership a cornerstone of your practice brand, it is also at the heart of your personal creativity, which is the fire that fuels your practice. If it is fascinating to you, it will be fascinating to those who associate with you.

Try this thought leadership exercise for 30 days, and see how it changes your practice. More importantly, see how it changes you:

  1. Claim. Choose a topic about which you are passionate. Suicide prevention. All-on-fours. Teenage hormones. Myobrace. Dust mites. Anything that sparks your interest and gets you jazzed.
  2. Consume. Set up Google Alerts to get daily or weekly alerts in your email inbox on the topic of your choice. Read voraciously. Explore what Google Alerts sends, follow links, get lost in the blogosphere. Spend evenings at the public library or local bookstore. Buy more books than you need. Ask colleagues to share their insights. Explore art on the topic. Listen to music related to it. Seep yourself in your muse. Find yourself in the enjoyment of your subject.
  3. Create. This is key. Consumption of knowledge is not enough. As the expert in your given area of thought leadership, it is your duty to yourself and to your community to process what you have learned and to create from that inner place of understanding and contributing. Write articles. Design infographics. Paint paintings. Write songs. Create as often and as much as you can, from whatever talent you might (or might not!) possess. And…
  4. Share. Post to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. Or email your creations to all of your colleagues. Hold a study club meeting and teach on your findings. Sharing can be as formal or informal as your muse and personality desire. The important thing is that your thoughts are shared. That is how they are born into thought leadership.

Thought leadership has the power to ignite conversation, change and even – if you are brave enough – controversy.

Are you ready?


The 5 Cardinal Rules of Dental Marketing

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  1. The patient perception shall reign sovereign. Gone are the days when the practice reputation was built solely on the dentist’s reputation. In this era, the patients’ collective perception of the practice is what matters most. If patients believe the practice to be an average family dental practice that fulfills their needs every six months for a cleaning and a check-up, then that is what it will become. If patients believe the practice is a cutting-edge center for dental excellence where they are treated like a celebrity, then that is what it will become. And which practice do you think will attract more referrals and more loyal patients? Of course, your practice is somewhere in between these two extremes, but you get the point: you are what your patients think you are. Survey patients to uncover what they think of the practice, and then tailor marketing communications to shift their thinking in the direction you want your practice to take.
  2. Marketing shall be built on a strong foundation. The foundation shall include, at a bare minimum, goals, a message and a marketing plan. Goals should be quantifiable and articulated in writing. For example, number of new patients seen per month and number of new patients desired per month. The message should be based upon what was learned when the patients were surveyed. What do patients like best about the practice? What do you want the practice to be known for? What do you do better than any other dentist out there? Put it in writing, and train your team to tout your strengths in every patient interaction so the practice story becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The marketing plan should document what marketing tactics the practice will use and the investments the practice intends to make in marketing over the next 12-month period. Only with this foundation in place can marketing begin to be a success.
  3. Marketing shall be a lifetime commitment. Marketing is the oxygen to your practice. You would no more cut off oxygen to a patient under general anesthesia in the midst of a surgery than you would cut off marketing in the midst of running a dental practice. Marketing is a line item on the profit and loss statement every month, every year – just like payroll, supplies and lab costs. It’s part of the cost of doing business.
  4. Marketing shall be an investment not an expense. With a strong foundation in place, marketing produces a return on investment. To be clear, returns are not always immediate nor the same month over month. Like anything in business, there are ramp-up periods and ebbs and flows. Still, you should be able to pull reports and see trends of earning more income in terms of new patient traffic and existing patient retention – all attributed to brand and marketing efforts. Pay close attention to this data. If in any 3- to 6-month period a particular marketing tactic fails to produce a return on investment, consider forgoing it in favor of investing more dollars into areas that are producing healthier returns.
  5. Marketing shall be an evolutionary process. Just as the practice grows and changes throughout the years, so shall your marketing. Once monthly is fine for analyzing marketing and patient traffic reports. Beyond that, complete a marketing performance review once annually. Revisit goals and the marketing plan. Ask what’s working and what’s not. Fine tune it and get it back in motion. Momentum is key.

The Anatomy of Patient-Producing Dental Direct Mail (And Why Not All Approaches Work)

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“Dental direct mail doesn’t work.”

“That stuff just ends up in the trash.”

“I never read those things.”

Now that we have gotten the thoughts and feelings out of the way, let’s focus on the facts: 80% of patients come to the typical practice from a radius of one to three miles, and dental direct mail targets that circle.

As with all marketing, it matters less what the dentist likes or wants. It matters most what’s going to make patients walk through the door, accept treatment and become loyal, referring members of the practice community.

There are specific elements of a dental direct mail piece that will get it noticed, and that will inspire the recipient to act upon it. Among them:

Strong positioning. Your practice is known for something that cannot be replicated anywhere else. A great sense of humor. Unmatched compassion. Attention to detail. Find out what it is by asking patients, and then make that the headline right on the front of the dental direct mail piece. Rope in the reader so they become eager to learn more about you.

A good story. Piggyback on your positioning. Expand into the practice story. Steer clear of clinical speak about state-of-the-art equipment and dental procedures, which can be overwhelming and even scary to the patient. Share what your current patients love most about visiting your practice. Talk about what keeps members of your community coming back for years and years.

Compelling offers. You don’t have to give away discounts on your services to make an offer. An offer can be something as simple as a gift card for coffee or an entry into a drawing for a prize. People like excitement. Make an offer that fits with your positioning and gets potential patients excited about coming to see you. We find that three offers is the magic number to really draw in patients.

Different size. A little postcard won’t do your practice justice. Invest in an 8.5″ x 11″ glossy sheet folded once so that it opens and reads horizontally. It’s a classy representation of the practice and makes a great first impression.

Accurate information. Have three people proofread the address, phone number, website address, map and any other contact information. Be sure to include a phone number on the dental direct mail piece that can be tracked, preferably with recorded calls, so that you can attribute marketing successes back to that piece for future marketing planning.

Call to action. Tell readers exactly what you want them to do, when and how. “Call now for an appointment by dialing this number.”

Here’s why most dental direct mail efforts don’t work:

Amateur effort. There is a true art and science behind dental direct mail. Expecting success from an amateur effort would be like expecting success from a layperson performing a root canal. 

Incomplete effort. Sending one mailer and stopping is not enough. A dental direct mail piece must be dropped to households at least three times to have any effect. Six or more times would be best.

Sloppy content. Even if the mailer gets to the right place the right number of times, it still has to send the right message. Follow the guidelines above to be sure your message is on target.



How to Make Your Practice Website a Patient Intake Machine

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In this day and age, it is highly possible to attract your ideal new patients while you are sleeping. You may have spent a lot of time and money optimizing your website for search, but have you optimized it as a patient intake machine yet? Here are a few simple steps to making your website work for you.

Write and design for the ideal. Choose your 10 best patients, and have the website written and designed specifically to their tastes. Sprinkle in testimonials from your top patients, too. This approach makes your website an engaging tool for attracting the right visitors and delivering them to your doorstep. More importantly, it helps to weed out the patients that you don’t want, which makes the intake process easier and more efficient.

Hone your services. Decide who you want to be in the world before putting it on your website. Perhaps your practice is best known for crowns in a day. Or for cosmetic orthodontics. Or for oral surgery and dental implants in one location. Nix the long list of general services and make yourself known for a signature service instead. This will keep patients loyal and keep them referring.

Let the web do its work. When used correctly, the World Wide Web can be a wonder in driving patient leads to your website and in your door. Some practices benefit from SEO. Some from Google AdWords. Some from retargeting ads. Some from Facebook ads. There are a myriad of other online marketing tactics to explore on top of those. Research which online marketing efforts are best for your practice by talking with online marketing experts and by surveying patients to uncover what type of online promotions they and their peers prefer. Then implement the tactics you select for at least 6 months to give them a chance to work and to gather ample data on how it’s working.

Tout accolades and awards. You are not a general dentist, you are an extraordinary dentist. Share all of your success stories on your website. Potential patients are more interested in your passion for what you do than where you went to undergraduate college or that you are a member of your state dental association. Get at the heart of why you are extremely dedicated to CE, or are committed to offering state of the art technology, or are involved in a study club. Without the why, these things are just features. With the why, they are benefits to the patient.

Give multiple ways to get in touch. At any given time, new patients are entering your practice through a funnel. At the top of the funnel are potential patients who just recently learned about the practice. They might want to like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter to continue to get to know you before taking the next step. Be sure these options are easily accessible on your website. In the middle of the funnel are new patients who need a bit more nurturing before they are ready to make an appointment. They might prefer to email you a few questions, or call with those questions. Email and phone number should be prominently displayed on every page of your website. At the bottom of the funnel are the ones who are intentional about finding the kind of dental care you offer and are ready to enter the practice. Make it easy on your website for those folks to make an appointment now.

Offer online patient forms. The easier you make it for the new patient to enter the practice, the more likely they are to do so. Go beyond the downloadable form. Offer forms that can be submitted online. There are all kinds of sophisticated website development widgets that make this possible while still maintaining HIPAA compliance.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your new patients!

3 Simple Ways to Free Up Capital to Fund Marketing

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Top dentists reinvest at least 5% of total production back into marketing to maintain thriving practices. That could mean an annual marketing investment of $30,000 to $60,000.

Where does the capital come from for the initial investment?

Here are three simple ways to free up funds to invest in better marketing:

  1. Cancel current marketing tactics. (Especially those that aren’t working well.) List everything the practice is currently doing for marketing. Next to each, write down the cost. This is the Investment. Next to that, write down the total number of patients that came to the practice from that tactic in a particular time period no shorter than 3 months. (Nix from the list anything that’s been running for shorter than 3 months since that’s too early to draw metrics.) Multiply the number of patients by the average value of a patient to calculate your Return. If the Return is not greater than the Investment, cancel the marketing tactic. If you are in a long-term contract, see if you can renegotiate. In many cases, the same budget you are currently spending can be optimized into a worthwhile marketing investment. Simply canceling a directory listing can open up $15,000 annually.
  2. Sign up for discounts. Join a buyer’s club to get discounts on supplies, lab fees and implant systems. There is no better way to create instant savings. There’s no need to sacrifice quality in order to capitalize on discounts. Web-based buyer’s group Dentistry Unchained seeks out high-integrity providers that are willing to offer services and products at better rates. Practices that utilize these group discounts save up to $25,000 annually.
  3. Pause your practice consultant. An excellent practice consultant always has the practice’s best interest at heart. If the practice is in dire need of a sudden marketing injection, consider asking your practice consultant to put your contract with them on temporary hold. A 3-month break probably won’t be detrimental to the practice (but check with your consultant first), and that will free up $2,000 per month.

Most practices are already spending what is needed to fund a robust, comprehensive marketing plan. But that’s just it – they are spending it.

Marketing should never be an expense. It should always be an investment that produces healthy returns.

A 75-Year History of Dental Marketing in 5 Quick Parts (And What It Means for Your Practice)

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As with medicine, marketing has changed drastically in the last 75 years. This is an examination of the history of dental marketing, broken into five parts.

BBB1Part One: Information and Innovation

During the Industrial Revolution, marketing was strictly informational, not visual. An ad for a new medicine ran in 1938 with the bold headline, “Texan Universal Pills.” What follows is an article-length description of the medication, what ailments it treats, and how best to take it. The only image is of a single star under the word “Texan” in the headline. The rest is text, and tiny text at that.

Like most ads of its time, it speaks to a specific knowledge of innovation: “The effects of these Pills (sic) upon the system, is thoroughly to cleanse the stomach and bowels…”

As was also common in that era, the ad features the voice of the medical expert: “…the object is first to clear the system, and afterwards, to strengthen and invigorate it…” We do not hear any patient viewpoint.

This was the first iteration of push advertising, communications targeted at what the reader needs according to someone else’s expertise. It conveys not what the reader wants or feels, but what is needed from the expert’s perspective.

During the Industrial Revolution, society was based on the provision of information, innovation, finance, and services. Hence the expert tells the reader what he or she needs, and then sells that service to the buyer. It was often value-based advertising, including pricing for the expertise, service or product offered. In those decades, advertising was price-driven, not lifestyle driven, which would emerge much later. (Source: http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/medicine-ads)

BBB2Part Two: Lifestyle Advertising

The focus didn’t shift to the individual until the mid- to late-20th Century, particularly during the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation movements. It’s no accident that lifestyle advertising emerged at the same time that America became obsessed with individuals’ freedom.

A 1963 ad for Anacin shows a woman’s furrowed brow, wrinkled by her painful headache. “In 22 seconds after entering the bloodstream, Anacin is speeding relief to your nervous tense headache.” We see less about the doctor’s expertise, more about the patient’s relief.

This is still push advertising, just a new flavor. This second generation of push advertising tells the reader what fits them. The voice of the ad seems to know something about the reader, and speaks directly to that pain point. But it’s still the voice of the expert teaching the reader. (Source: http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/medicine-ads-1960s)

Part Three: New Media

The Information Age came about with the adoption of the personal computer in the late 1970s, and evolved with the Internet in the 1990s and the emergence of e-mail around 2000. Push advertising took on a third form called new media.

Thousands of internet-based companies led to the dramatic rise (Dot-Com Boom) and fall (Dot Bomb) of the stock market. Even brick-and-mortar businesses erected websites to peddle their wares and services. It was popular to cram as much information as possible onto the website, sometimes onto a single, long-scrolling webpage. This became information overload. It was still push advertising, but preaching online what fits the reader. No true engagement quite yet.

Part Four: Empowerment

Enter the Age of Empowerment in advertising and marketing. Seemingly overnight (but really during 2002-07), the Internet was overtaken by the voice of the consumer, and the voice of the expert faded into the background.

It wasn’t just happening on the web – all forms of media were affected. This was startling, disruptive and destructive to businesses in almost every industry, including dentistry. Newspapers and magazines began seeing rapid declines in their readership. Marketers struggled to figure out this “new way” to promote services and products. Dentists in private practice panicked that patients now had the power to say anything about them online.

Suddenly every professional was tasked – on top of everything else they were doing –with posting relevant information on their website and using online marketing tools to attract the right clientele.

Besides a good website, everyone needed search engine optimization (SEO), a social media footprint on Facebook and LinkedIn, and a blog (what on earth was that?). It seemed everyone was in a tailspin over how much time and money it was all going to take. Perhaps the worst fear was that consumers were now the voice of our brands!

This is pull marketing, in which patients choose to join your circle because they feel strongly that they belong there.

Part Five: Pull Marketing, and What’s In It for You

Pull marketing invites patients who have the most in common with the practice to become part of the circle as an exclusive club. It conveys that patients are part of a conversation with the dentist. It is an exclusive invitation that attracts only the ideal patients.

Since much of pull marketing happens online, it is more measurable than traditional marketing that happens on radio, television, and in print.

Pull marketing is more cost-effective. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time rather than papering the world with a canned message that came off the shelf. Higher efficiencies add up to lower costs.

Pull marketing is a more natural social interaction, like hosting an open house online. It’s one of the best ways to attract like-minded patients, those who accept treatment and pay on time.

Pull marketing yields better results because it’s about attraction rather than coercion.

Pull marketing features the voice of the consumer, and that makes some dentists nervous. Worry not. Remember that the voice of the patient of the high-integrity practice is most often a voice of praise.

Embrace pull marketing, and your practice will thrive for generations to come.

11 Ways to Improve Practice Marketing Now

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  1. Ask. Survey the 10 best patients, asking what the practice does best in their eyes and what media they pay attention to most. This will allow the practice to put to market a message that resonates with patients and their peers. It will also allow the practice to reach potential patients across the media that matters most to them.
  1. Plan. Based upon data from the surveys, establish a marketing plan. Hone in on 5 tactics for the practice to deliver over the next 12 months. Avoid the temptation to implement only the marketing tactics that the dentist or team likes. Invest in the marketing that patients said they prefer.
  1. Prioritize. Think in terms of lowest-hanging fruit. It can be very cost-effective to train staff to properly and regularly ask current patients for referrals, and those referrals typically make great patients. Next, it can be in the practice’s best interest to implement at least one direct marketing effort like direct mail or online advertising. Finally, awareness marketing efforts like social media and sponsorship of charitable events can keep the practice top-of-mind in the community.
  1. Review. Have a look at your current website. Visitors will make snap judgments about the dentist and the practice in the first 30 seconds on the site. Make sure the home page shows that the dentist is Affable, Able and Available. Affability can be shown on the home page with warm, inviting photos of the doctor. Ability can be demonstrated with patient testimonials, board certifications, and awards. Finally, make the practice Available by providing multiple ways to get in touch: phone, email, social media, etc. And yes, all of this needs to be right on the home page.
  1. Empathize. Vastly improve your website by using full-face photos. Laypeople do not interact with the mouth like you do, and are not accustomed to seeing teeth-only photos or radiographs, which can be frightening to them. When it comes to before-and-after shots, always use full-face photos to tell the practice’s story. The transformation in the smile shows as much in the eyes as it does in the teeth.
  1. Join. Social media is nothing more than a practice open house. Even better, it’s happening 24/7. Join the party. General dentists typically see the best results with Facebook while specialists enjoy networking with potential referrers on LinkedIn. Apply the same social rules online as you would offline.
  1. Go Viral. Increase your social media “virality” on Facebook with photos of the staff, photos of babies and puppies, funny and relevant cartoons or jokes, simple voting contests, and celebrations of birthdays and holidays. Boost “virality” on LinkedIn with regular lead mining: connecting with potential referring doctors, then messaging them to ask for a meeting to explore how best to help each other.
  1. Behave. Adhere to HIPAA guidelines by posting on social media about general conditions, never actual cases. Train your staff on social media posting decorum and perimeters. Have patients sign a simple waiver allowing the practice to use their image, likeness and testimonial on marketing materials.
  1. Blog. Make the dentist a thought-leader in the community by downloading his or her thoughts into writing and sharing it online. This article is a good example of a blog post: roughly 500 words, helpful insights for the reader, never promotional.
  1. Be Prompt. Meet any negative online reviews head on and with the same professionalism you would use with an unhappy patient in your waiting room.
  1. Have fun. Marketing is like a science experiment. Set a hypothesis, test theories and create reactions.