Checklist: When to Redesign your Website

By | Blog | No Comments

A dental practice website is like a car. It can be maintained and updated for a period of time, but eventually it is more economical and practical to replace it.

How will you know when to redesign your website?

It’s time for a do-over when:

  • Update expense is too high. Run your profit and loss and gauge how much you spent in the last 36-month period on website updates and maintenance. If you’re paying more than an average of $200 per month to have your old website updated with routine maintenance, it makes more sense to simply invest in a new, lower maintenance website. The average dental practice website runs about $5,000, and most are redeveloped every three years. That breaks down to $138.88 per month.
  • Images and content are outdated. Go page by page through your website and ask yourself, about what percentage of the photos are crisp, professional and relevant? Roughly what percentage of text or content is up-to-date and helpful in guiding the patient into your door? If it’s less than 60% in either case, it’s probably time to just start fresh.
  • Links are broken. Again, navigate page by page through the website. This time, click on every link that appears on your website. About what percentage of links are working, or leading to the appropriate page? If the answer is less than 60%, a do-over is best.
  • Contact forms need updating. One last time, scroll through the entire website. Is there a contact form on every page? Fill each one out and hit submit. Did you receive all of the information that you need to make a new patient appointment, and was the information sent to the appropriate inbox? If the answer to either of these questions is no, then a new website will help. And the cherry on top: Is there a place on the website that the patient can schedule an appointment on their own? This is particularly important for practices that wish to have or have a good number of Millennial generation patients, as they are very unlikely to call or email for an appointment.
  • Loading time is slow. Type your website address in here to test its loading time. If it reports that your website loads slower than most, then it’s time for a new website. The website has about 3 seconds to grab the visitor’s attention, and about 15 seconds to give them the information they seek. Your potential patients aren’t going to wait for a slow-loading website to find what they want; they’ll just pop over to your competitor’s website.
  • Website was created without SEO best practices. Has your website had SEO updates in the last year? Is it less than 3 years old? If you answered no to either of these questions, it’s likely best to redevelop the website. Be extra sure by typing your website address in here to see your domain authority. A domain authority under 15 likely needs SEO updates, which may further warrant a new website.
  • It’s not mobile friendly or responsive. Pull up your website on a desktop computer. Grab the lower right corner and pull it upward and to the right. Does the website resize itself to fit the smaller screen size? Now, pull up your website on a cell phone. Can you see navigation and contact information without having to resize or scroll the screen? If you answered no, it’s imperative that you have your website redesigned to be mobile friendly or responsive, like this one. In the average dental practice, 50% of patients search on their mobile devices for your services. If your website does not populate correctly on these mobile devices, up to half of your new patient inquiries may be vanishing. For added assurance, type your website address in here to instantly get a mobile-friendly test.
  • You get very few to no new patients from the website. If they’re not already, have your front office ask every patient for a month how they found you. If less than 10% came from your website, the old website is not doing its job. The new practice website should be an engaging tool that invites patients into the practice and makes it easy for them to make an appointment.

Need a new website? We can help.

Contact us today.

The Trouble with “Double Profits with New Patients”

By | Blog | No Comments

In the nine years I’ve been a dental marketing expert, I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen other dental marketers falsely encourage practices that they can “Double Profits with New Patients.”

There are six inherent problems with this statement:

  1. It’s not all about new patients. I saw one offer recently from a dental marketer that said, “Up to 80% of revenue generated by new patients goes straight to your practice’s bottom line, which is nearly double the 42% profit margin offered by existing patients.” On the contrary, newbies are more likely to enter the practice as hygiene patients, which might yield $2,000 in annual production each year. Existing patients who already know and love you will be more willing to accept treatment for larger cosmetic cases, which may bring upwards of $50,000 in production. The marketing plan that will bring the most profits to the practice is one that attracts new patients, certainly, and also nurtures existing patients to keep recall appointments, accept treatment for larger cases and refer friends and family.
  2. It’s not all about marketing. Most of the time a profitably problem is related to cash flow and productivity, not marketing. Unless you are capable of thinking in abundance rather than in scarcity, marketing won’t earn more profitably. Unless collections are in good shape, marketing won’t earn more profitably. Unless staffing and operations are buttoned up, marketing won’t earn more profitably. Read more about this in my book.
  3. There are no guarantees in life. Or in business. Or in marketing. This phrase reads like a guarantee, but doesn’t actually say it is one. That’s misleading. Any marketing effort that begins in integrity rather than with a misleading principal is destined to outperform the latter.
  4. It’s not all about profits. The success of a dental practice can be partially measured by profitability, but that’s not the whole picture. Startup practices may not be profitable right out of the gate, but may have amazing teams and potential. I’ve met dentists who are profitable but not fulfilled. Success is a combination of fulfillment and performance.
  5. Doubling profits won’t solve all your problems. As business owners, profits are the first place we look to measure our value, not just for the practice but also for ourselves. When we look to profitability to solve all of our problems it gives way to this type of thinking: “I am profitable, therefore I am worthy” or “I am not profitable, therefore I am unworthy.” Untangling your ego from the profitability equation and making it strictly a business strategy is the first step in becoming profitable. Marketing is a next step.
  6. It’s backwards. A practice must have the finances in good order so that they can invest regularly in marketing, not the other way around. If you can’t “afford” marketing, then you have a cash flow issue that can’t be solved with marketing.

Focus marketing on the long-term growth of the practice, not on quick fixes, for best results.

Don’t Get Distracted by the Yoyo

By | Blog | No Comments

Did you know that your website is your #1 most powerful patient acquisition tool?

Did you know that 50% of patients use their smartphones to learn about your practice?

Did you know that more than 75% of patients prefer to be contacted by email?

Imagine a marketing plan that makes the most of these tactics and more to attract a steady stream of your ideal patients.

It’s only possible if you’re invested in marketing.

Here is a common analogy in the financial investment world, that’s relevant here, too… Picture a boy riding an escalator while playing with a yoyo. The yoyo represents the daily ups and downs of the stock market, while the escalator, or the long-term historical trend of the stock market, is always climbing higher.

You have more to lose by not investing.

Your mobile website may have attracted 353 new visitors last month and only 249 this month, and yet that’s still 602 more eyes on your practice than without a mobile website. Maybe only 11 of those website visitors converted to patients last month and 8 became patients this month; that’s still 19 more patients than you would have seen without online marketing. Your email campaign may have yielded 4 new patient referrals last month and only 1 this month, but that’s still 5 more new patients than you would have attracted without the campaign.

These two tactics alone earned one of our clients 24 new patients over a 2-month period that he simply wouldn’t have seen if he wasn’t invested in marketing. And those two tactics constitute just a fraction of his full marketing plan. With his Total Marketing plan, he saw a sum of 59 new patients over that same period. That’s more than $30,000 in extra production dollars earned in just two months!

Avoid getting distracted by the yoyo. Focus on the escalator.

Invest in your practice today.

Source: 10 Surprising Digital Marketing Statistics for Dentists

Go Beyond the Patient/Doctor Relationship: A How-To Guide

By | Blog | No Comments

People like doing business with those they can relate to on a personal level. You’ll see this exemplified in hiring preferences, vendor relationships and professional connections. This is equally true in the relationship between a patient and his/her dentist. Patients are faced with the decision to choose one dental practice for their family out of dozens of competitors in their area. While many marketing tactics play a role in this decision, making a personal connection that goes beyond the ordinary doctor/patient relationship can definitely pull some weight.

This impact is most clearly seen when a patient has visited a practice one or two times. Maybe they’ve come in for an initial exam or a small-scale cosmetic treatment, but they haven’t yet become one of the regular, loyal patients that make up the lifeblood of your practice. At this point, the ball is in your court to make that happen. These first few appointments will form a lasting impression in your patients’ minds about who you are as a dentist, a practice and their healthcare provider. It is up to you to take full advantage of this impressionable stage by making personal connections with your patients. As the dentist in charge, you may already be doing many of these things brilliantly, and we urge you to share this with the rest of your staff so they do the same.

Here are a few ways to make those meaningful relationships flourish.

  1. First off, call patients by their name. A person’s name is the most beautiful, magical word they know and it holds the power to break down the conventional barriers labeling you as a dentist and them as your patient. You want your patient to view you as a friend – someone they can trust and around whom they feel at ease. People love it when you call them by name as it shows that you are personally invested in their wellbeing. In all interactions, make a point of greeting your patient by their first name, whether that’s over the phone, during treatment or, of course, when they first walk into your office.
  1. Ask your patients about their families, hobbies and other personal matters. People love to talk about themselves and many will jump at the chance to rave about how their daughter is excelling in school or how they recently took a family vacation to Costa Rica. Don’t stop there. Show genuine interest in your patients’ lives. When they return for treatment, follow up with them about what they discussed with you previously. Has their son won another basketball game? How did their daughter’s final exams go? This will solidify a sense of community and compassion.
  1. When communicating with a patient, focus on them as an individual. Each patient has a different comfort level, set of dental goals and history with dentists that will influence how they perceive dentistry as a whole. If a patient has told you that they feel anxious about injections or the sound of the drill, take care to remember these things the next time they visit your practice. Ask them frequently if they are comfortable while you are administering treatment. During routine visits, take a moment to ask if they have any concerns about their teeth in terms of comfort or appearance. In doing so you will present yourself both as a professional interested in providing customized care, but also a friend interested in helping them feel total comfort and confidence. After finishing a procedure, call them a few days later to ask how they are feeling. This final touch will keep your practice top-of-mind and seal the deal if they were thinking about returning for care in the future.

Make these personal connections from the start, and your patients’ decisions to stick with you, return for treatment and refer others will be a done deal. Plus, you’ll gain a patient who will be loyal to your practice for years to come.

 

 

 

Brand Awareness

By | Blog | No Comments

In 1905, a handlebar-mustached chemist by the name of Alford Einhorn sat in his Germany lab synthesizing procaine for the first time. He would go on to patent his invention under the name Novocaine; nov is the Latin word for “new” and caine, a common suffix for “alkaloids.”

The topical anesthetic grew so popular in use that patients today ask for it by name and sometimes assume that all pain reduction medications used by their dentist bear the same name.

For fun, here are a few more of the most familiar brand names in the world:

  • Scotch tape
  • Bubble wrap
  • Jacuzzi
  • Crockpot
  • Chapstick
  • Popsicle
  • Rollerblades
  • Velcro
  • Dumpster
  • PostIts
  • PowerPoint

How do brand names like Kleenex, Xerox and Google grow so ubiquitous as to become part of the fabric of our language – verbs even, in the latter two examples?

These brand names have one thing in common: extraordinary brand awareness. Their marketers put these names in front of the target audience so often and in such clever ways as to make them stick in consumers’ minds for years to come.

What can a dental practice learn from this?

That awareness matters.

Here are a few marketing tactics that bring brand awareness to a dental practice:

  • Logo
  • Appointment cards
  • Signage
  • Billboards
  • Radio and television ads
  • Reputation management
  • Impressions from online ads (Google, Yelp, etc.)
  • Post reach on social media
  • Website
  • Community events and open houses

While these tactics may not immediately translate into new patient numbers, they do strengthen recall and reputation, and they will eventually cause a boost in production. When run consistently and in tandem with nurture marketing and direct marketing, awareness marketing builds a rock-solid foundation for total marketing success.

We attracted 323,002 new sets of eyeballs on a client’s practice in just six months, thanks to awareness marketing. That translated to 297 new patients in the same time period. Before they become a patient, they must become aware of the practice.

What are you doing to expand awareness of your practice?

 

 

 

What’s In a Name?

By | Blog | No Comments

The best brand name for your practice is easy to spell and easy to say. It evokes a feeling, which makes it extremely memorable and word-of-mouth worthy. It has a website address that matches the exact brand name without dashes, abbreviations or extra words. It is available for trademark and is not in current use by any competitor in your state or region. In this way, it is salable. It is an asset to be transitioned with the practice, and it packs brand equity and measurable value.

Here are three types of dental practice brand names with pros and cons of each:

Generic Names

The lowest common denominator of names, these are usually descriptive of what the practice does. While they are very easy to develop, they are not always easy to spell or say and they are not memorable. Further, they are typically not available for trademark. These are the highest-risk and lowest-value names in the dental industry. Examples include:

  • The Los Angeles Dentist
  • Cheyenne Dental Center
  • Family Dentistry

Personal Names

These are the name of a person, such as a founder or owner. These are the most common names for dental practices. They, too, are easy to develop. However, they can pose challenges for the owner/dentist when it’s time to add an associate or partner, or time to sell the practice. Like generic names, they are not always easy to spell or say, they are not memorable and they are typically not available for trademark. These are high-risk and low-value dental practice brand names. Examples include:

  • Roy T. Morgan DDS
  • O’Malley Orthodontics
  • Smith & Jefferson Dentistry

Brand Core Names

These names are designed to create a position for the practice; in other words, they truly set the practice apart in the community. They create or tell a story. They evoke a feeling, thought or memory. This is the type of name that is right for your brand. It may be possible to trademark a brand core name, and this type of name is salable. These are low-risk and high-value names. Examples include:

A dentist asked recently, “I want to rename my practice, but I’m afraid that if I use something other than my own name that it will sound too ‘corporate.’”

If you want the right brand name for your independent dental practice, I still advise a brand core name. You might add “Independently Owned and Operated” to your marketing materials, but the patient is buying an experience from you, not independent dentistry. Put the experience first, and let the rest follow.

10 Great Gifts for Dental Professionals

By | Blog | No Comments

The season of giving is back and with it comes the chance to show a little extra love to those who work hard to keep our smiles healthy. Shopping for dentists, and other healthcare professionals, isn’t always easy. While little knickknacks can be thoughtful, they typically end up just catching dust on a bookshelf in the reception room. Whether you’re a dentist yourself looking for a gift for a colleague, a staff member at a practice, or a spouse, friend or family member looking for a last minute gift idea, here are some dental themed holiday gifts any dentist would genuinely appreciate.

  1. This Molar Mug makes an adorable gift for any dentist. It’s sure to bring lots of smiles to patients and staff members alike when the dentist carries it around to drink his or her morning coffee.
  1. Dentists love calming prints and posters, like this mountain scene, to decorate the walls of their examination rooms. Peaceful landscapes can help put patients at ease during treatment and provide a more positive experience overall.
  1. These tooth impression ice trays will deliver plenty of laughs at practice social functions. A fun conversation starter, this is a great gift for a dentist with a sense of humor.
  1. This crisp and professional marble business card holder proudly displays the official dental insignia and can be personalized with the dentist’s name and a brief message like “Show off your healthy smile!”
  1. This slightly tongue-in-cheek t-shirt, printed with the phrase “Same Spit, Different Day,” is sure to be a hit among dentists who love to laugh.
  1. Bring a sense of coziness to the front desk by giving the dentist these mini molar candles. They come in cinnamon apple, honeydew melon, French vanilla and clean cotton scents.
  1. Any dentist will love this cheerful clock reminding patients of the time and to “Keep Calm and Brush On.” The placement of the words, numbers and tooth image is customizable, and you can easily personalize the clock face with the dentist’s or practice name.
  1. Give the gift of organization with this cute tooth office supply cup, perfect for holding pens and pencils on the front desk.
  1. Do you know a dentist who likes to play golf? Give them these tooth-shaped golf tees this holiday season so they can express their love for dentistry on the green.
  1. This unique tooth lamp functions as a stool too! This is a great gift for a pediatric dentist who wants to brighten up the office while giving kids a special seat in the reception area.

We hope everyone has a smile-filled holiday season!

You’re Missing the Point

By | Blog | No Comments

The point of marketing is not driving new patient traffic.

The whole idea is to attract the right patients into the practice.

Here are seven traits of ideal patients, the ones to replicate in droves:

  1. They keep appointments. The best patients schedule appointments, show up on time and very rarely, if ever, cancel. And they would certainly never cancel last minute unless there was a true emergency.
  2. They accept treatment. The patients you want more of are those who listen to your diagnosis, understand your treatment plan and follow through with care.
  3. They pay on time. Only those patients who pay on time are the ones you want more of. This goes for insurance and fee-for-service patients. And they wouldn’t dream of asking for a discount.
  4. They refer friends and family. You know it’s a great patient when they become brand ambassadors of your practice, singing your praises all over the community with very little prompting or rewarding from you.
  5. They trust you as a dental expert. They respect the fact that you have countless hours of education and hands-on training in the services you offer. When you suggest a course of action, they listen and allow you to truly guide them.
  6. They are partners in their oral care. Your ideal patients do their part to take good care of their teeth and mouths, and they are always interested in improving their oral care.
  7. They are loyal to the practice. Not only do they return for recall appointments year after year, but they also sign on for elective treatments that your practice offers.

Make a list of patients in your practice who have these traits. Survey them to find out what attracted them to the practice, what keeps them loyal, why they refer to you, and what they love most about visiting you.

Ask, too, what types of marketing they pay attention to. Do they read direct mail? Would they search online for a practice like yours? Would they share a referral card?

More than that, train your staff to identify ideal patients and habitually ask them for referrals.

Uncover what glues your best patients to the practice, and replicate those efforts to attract more of the ideal. Now, that’s marketing success!

How to Develop a Unique Brand for Your Practice, Backed by Research

By | Blog | No Comments

There is a lot more to running a successful dental practice than cleaning teeth, filling cavities and placing implants. You can be the best cosmetic dentist in your state, but in a market saturated with dental professionals, you may struggle to get your unique message out to the public.

Despite their best marketing efforts, dentists across the nation find themselves drowning in a sea of sameness, unable to stand out. You may think marketing is intimidating, unpredictable or even a waste of money when even your best tactics fail to make a substantial return on investment. Hope is not lost!

What your practice needs is a unique and authentic brand, one that will make your practice shine unlike anything your community has seen before. This can be developed using a proven, research-based method that utilizes the greatest marketing resource available to you: your best patients. The first step is to learn what initially attracted your very best patients to your practice so you can unlock the secret to attracting more of those types of patients. Uncovering this information and completing the branding process takes four succinct steps:

  1. Assemble a group of your very best patients. These are the patients you have been seeing for decades. These are patients who love chatting with you and your staff. These are patients who refer their friends and family to your practice. These are the patients who accept treatment from your practice and show up to every appointment. These are the patients who remind you just why you love your job. Make a list of roughly 10-15 of these patients.
  2. Design a survey that questions exactly why your patients love your practice. Why did they choose you over others in their area? What has kept them coming back year after year? What do they enjoy most about your approach to care? What are their special stories about your practice? Did you calm their child’s fear of fillings or schedule them for a last minute emergency appointment? These are the things you will want to learn. Make your survey around 10-15 questions long. Email it to your best patients kindly asking them to take part in making your practice better for future patients like them.
  3. Analyze these responses carefully. It may be a very humbling experience for you to see such a raw perspective on what your practice means to your patients. Know that what you are seeing is the truest version of your brand, honest and unclouded by your own perceptions and biases. These responses will form the core of your new brand.
  4. Synthesize these responses to construct a brand messaging document that clearly outlines three or four core defining qualities of your practice. Explain these in detail, focusing on what value they provide to your patients. Next, generate a single sentence positioning statement that expresses in simple terms what you provide at what value to whom. Finally, develop a brand essence, which is a short phrase that describes your practice at its core (i.e. “Convenient and Comforting,” “Simply Exceptional.” etc.). This should be the succinct idea that comes to mind when your patients think of your practice.

The brand messaging, positioning statement and brand essence will create a foundation for all marketing materials you produce henceforth. With a custom brand backed by research in place, you can clearly define your practice as an authentic entity set apart from the competition.

 

How Marketing Can Ease Staffing Headaches

By | Blog | No Comments

In a recent survey, 82% of dentists identified management and staffing as the biggest frustrations as a practice owner.[1] Attracting and keeping the right talent to keep your dental practice ticking and humming doesn’t have to be a headache. In fact, marketing can help.

Here’s how:

  1. Vision. All marketing starts with a vision for the practice. Double monthly patient numbers. Accept only fee-for-service patients. Increase production by 25% year over year. When you share your vision with your team and give them a stake in the game, they will weed themselves. The ones who are on board with your vision will stay, and the ones who are not will exit. The key is to give them a stake. When the goal is reached, offer each team member a corresponding reward or bonus.
  2. Culture. When you survey your best patients, your marketing depicts a transformative message, look and feel that resonates with your target patients. Translate the same message, look and feel to job descriptions, and you will find team members who truly fit with your culture. Once you assemble the right team, incorporate into your culture ways to show them that you truly care. Staff members stick around when they feel that you have their best interest at heart.
  3. Day-to-day Operations. Inspire your team to ask for referrals on a regular basis, to spearhead various marketing efforts and to make the most of every patient interaction. When your team has a hand in the growth of the practice, they are more apt to feel connected to you, one another and the practice as a whole.
  4. Social Media. Portray your team in a terrific light on your practice Facebook page. Share photos of the team at and outside of work, post images of their families and celebrations and highlight their milestones like birthdays, wedding anniversaries and work anniversaries. These types of posts are highly likely to generation interaction, and when they show up in your target patients’ newsfeeds on Facebook, your practice appears warm and welcoming. Plus, your team will love you for honoring them.
  5. Good as Gold. Be good as gold to your team, and they will do the same for your patients. The result is a continuous circle of happiness. And that’s the key to a thriving practice!

[1] Dentistry Unchained member survey, July 2015