From “Meh” to Amazing: How the Dentist Affects the Marketing

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Everything that the dentist does has a trickle-down effect on the team and the practice.

Everything.

And as Fred Joyal famously said, “Marketing is everything.”

When the dentist is in chaos, the practice feels hectic, team members are disjointed and patients may be confused and disloyal.

When the dentist is apathetic, the practice becomes slow, team members have a sense of lethargy and it may become difficult to attract new patients, earn treatment acceptance or keep patients.

When the dentist is passionate and visionary, the practice comes to life and team members are animated, open and willing. People love this energy, and patients naturally flock to it and stick. This is where true growth, success, and prosperity happen.

Here are six ways to go from “meh” to amazing:

  1. Decide what you want – and why. It’s not enough to simply say, “I want more new patients.” Why do you want that? What impact will you have had on your corner of the world 100 years from now? What are your biggest dreams? Write down a decisive statement about what you want and why. For example:
    1. “I have decided to grow a multi-million dollar small group practice because the dental industry needs more dentists like me.”
    2. “I have decided to hire the best and brightest associates right out of residency because they deserve the experience of working for a practice like mine.”
    3. “I have decided to attract two implant cases every month because I am passionate about transforming smiles and the world.”
  2. Take action. Next, write down the specific actions you will take to reach your goal. Oftentimes we feel like we are in action, but we may not actually be, or we may be taking the wrong action. By outlining your action steps in written format, you will be able to regularly review your plan and adjust it as needed.
  3. Inspire your team. Regularly share your decisive statement and plan with your team. Invite them to help deploy the action plan. Delegate as much as you can so that you can stay focused on the big picture rather than getting lost in the weeds. Revisit the plan together at least twice monthly in order to stay on point.
  4. Find your tribe. Add to your plan a list of people who you can call on when the going gets rough or when you want to celebrate wins. Your team is certainly on the list. You might add mentors and coaches or consultants with whom you have worked. Consider including any spiritual advisors you may have in your life. And don’t forget your children, parents and/or significant other. Once you complete your list, contact each person in your tribe to share your decisive statement and plan. Ask if they will each support you in your journey to success. And reach out regularly to prevent isolation as a practice owner, which is very common and catastrophic to momentum.
  5. Mind what you feed your brain. Next, add a list of books, podcasts, TEDTalks and other media will best support your plan. If your plan is centered on growing a large practice and team, consider reading Total Leader, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and How to Win with People. If your plan is focused on creating wealth, you might read Think and Grow Rich, The Law of Success and Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. If your plan is about attracting more implant patients, try KABOOM!: The Method Used By Top Dentists for Explosive Marketing Results or Marketing Implant Dentistry.
  6. Go to night school. Keep your entire plan with the decisive statement, specific action plan, delegation notes, tribe list and reading list in a place where you can read it every day. The best time of day is at night just before lights out.

In working with hundreds of dental practice across the nation over the last 10 years, we find that the ones enjoying the best results from marketing are those that are lead by a visionary dentist. And by following the steps above, that can easily be you!

 

 

 

 

Track Your Results in Real Time

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We often hear from dentists and teams that they have a hard time seeing where their marketing dollars are going, and if their marketing efforts are providing a return. Dentists don’t have clarity on the new patient inquiries coming into the practice, and dental teams don’t see how they are progressing towards annual production goals.

A personal online dashboard can help with all of that. Personal marketing dashboards accurately track results and allow all key players to see exactly how their marketing tactics are performing and where they are in terms of meeting the goal. This allows both your dental team and your marketing team to use actual data to make sound decisions about when to refine your marketing program, where to invest marketing dollars and how to get the very best results. Plus, your personal marketing dashboard updates in real time, meaning you can check the status of your marketing success 24/7, 365.

What should your team be measuring to make sure they’re on the right track with marketing?

  • Revenue and production goals
  • New patients per month
  • Online advertising results
  • Online forms submitted
  • Website visits
  • Top keywords
  • Calls from direct mail
  • Social media statistics

Utilizing a custom dashboard to see how your marketing efforts impact your new patient numbers and move you towards your production goals can make or break your marketing plan’s success. Interested in learning more?

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How to Impact Your Team and the Dental Industry

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You are more than just a dentist. Your thoughts, your work, and your insights have ripple effects on your team, your community, and the dental industry on the whole. Here are five ways to positively impact everyone in your sphere of influence.

  1. Hire the best of the best. The very best dental team members attract and retain your patients, and thereby bring in more production to the practice. Beyond that, they are great to work with, which means you are more fulfilled. And when you have the production and fulfillment that you want, you are more able to have a positive impact on the world around you.
  2. Implement a rewards and incentives program. Even the very best employees get sidelined without clarity, direction, and incentive. Articulate your vision for the practice in writing and share it with the team. Help them develop individual action plans for helping the practice reach its goals. Work with each of them to develop clear benchmarks for success. (They will be different for each role.) Finally, show them what they will get when they reach and exceed those benchmarks. The rewards could be bonuses, gift cards, time off, etc. Once the action is tied to an outcome that directly impacts them, watch production and engagement soar!
  3. Learn and teach leadership. Read texts such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Think and Grow Rich and The Power of Positive Thinking. Immerse yourself in podcasts and videos to learn leadership skills such as proactivity, openness, willingness, big-picture thinking and inspiring others. Get into coaching with one of the masters at Fortune Management. (We don’t get anything for recommending them; we just love them.) When you truly learn leadership skills, you can then teach them to the dental team. A whole practice full of leaders is a high-impact practice!
  4. Become known for one thing. Maybe you want to be the implant dentist in your market. Or the go-to cosmetic dentist. Or the sleep apnea expert. Fine-tune your marketing strategy to attract just the right patient to your practice. Take it a step further by developing podcasts, videos, and lectures on your area of expertise.
  5. Back a cause. One dentist that we know started a dental clinic in Africa. Another sits on the board of Kids in Need of Dentistry. Another rehabilitates the mouths of recovering methamphetamine addicts. Find the one corner of the world that you wish was better and explore how you can get involved to inspire change.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

 

 

 

Win The Battle For New Patients

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Here’s a dirty little secret about dentists… the majority of them figure that if they just throw enough dollars at what’s hot in marketing, they will get ahead of the competition in the battle for new patients.

They are dead wrong.

The name of the marketing game is not to attract new patients. The goal is to attract your ideal new patients: those who pay on time, accept treatment, welcome your dental benefits policies and refer family and friends.

The right marketing solution is not that shiny new approach that the last sales rep called to promote. It’s a strategic marketing plan: the exact mix of everything possible in marketing expertly whittled down to precisely what is right for your practice right now.

And that strategic marketing plan is not an expense. It is an investment: it works on the practice’s behalf to more than pay for itself.

It’s a plan that cuts off “price shopper” patients at the pass before they waste your time and resources.

It’s a plan that honors potential patients and makes clear to them that they will feel right at home at your practice – even before they cross the threshold.

It’s a plan that attracts patients from miles away who are willing to pay fee-for-service and who respect you as the expert that you are.

It’s a plan that has the right patients flocking in the door on a regular basis.

It’s a plan that will make the competition obsolete.

More than all of that, it’s a plan that makes your practice more prominent and more profitable than ever before.

Your peers may not know that there are 50 possible marketing tactics that practices use to attract patients. They may be narrowly focused on only a few that they are trying on a darts-in-the-dark basis.

Many don’t know that there is a simple and quick way to strategically define which of the 50 possible marketing tactics will make their practices soar.

But dentists nationwide are making use of just such a strategy.

Want one?

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Keep Patients from Leaking Out the Back Door

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The name of the game for a successful dental practice is to attract and keep your ideal patients. Patients leaking out the back door can be just as detrimental, if not more, than not driving enough new patient traffic to the practice.

Keeping your ideal patients is all about building relationships, staying top-of-mind, and making it as easy as possible for them to schedule and show up for their next appointment.

Build Relationships

From the moment an established patient walks into the practice, they should feel welcomed and remembered. Even the tiniest gesture can make a world of difference. A simple, “How was your vacation?” or “How is your daughter doing?” allows the patient to feel special, valued, and at ease.

Additionally, the importance and value of the patient’s treatment should be communicated every step of the way. If they are clear on their treatment plan and the necessary steps to achieve and maintain optimum oral health, and all of their concerns have been addressed, returning for their follow-up appointments will be a no-brainer.

Stay Top-of-Mind

Keep patients engaged and reminded of your practice in between their appointments. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as posting practice updates and photos on social media or sending educational emails each month.

Engaging with your practice’s community via social media is extremely cost-effective and easy to manage. Share practice updates, celebrations, patient milestones (with the patient’s consent), updated hours, etc., so that the practice is always top-of-mind for patients.

Educational email campaigns are also a great way to keep in touch with patients. Producing insightful (not promotional) content will position you as the expert and keep you front-and-center for patients as their go-to dental resource. A simple once monthly email with valuable, relevant content (easing financial concerns around implants, the difference between crowns and bridges, which type of tooth whitening will work best, etc.) will allow you to educate your patients and stay in touch with them in a meaningful way.

Make Appointment Scheduling Easy and Effortless

Each time a patient visits your office, schedule their six-month follow-up appointment, right then and there. Very rarely does anyone know what they are doing six months from now, and sifting through one’s calendar can be a hassle. Schedule the appointment six months out, at the same time of day as the appointment they just had, and let them know that if they need to reschedule they can always do so at a date closer to the appointment.

Send email and text reminders and call to confirm the appointment as the date approaches. If they specify a preferred method of communication, stick to that. Follow up one month, one week, and one day before to confirm the appointment. That way, the pressure is off the patient, essentially creating a “How can I not show up for this appointment?” situation.

Attracting and keeping your ideal patients doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Develop meaningful relationships with your patients, establish rapport, and make coming to the dentist as easy, welcoming and comforting as possible. Do so and your practice will continue to thrive.

5 Minutes to Better Benefits Communications

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Patients are confused about dental benefits. They think dental benefits work like health insurance, and they have extremely high expectations about what will be covered.

At the same time, the dental team knows all of the ins and outs of dental benefits. This may sound like a good thing, but it can backfire: patients may feel overwhelmed by rapid-fire information or intimidated by insider jargon.

In just five minutes, this read will help clarify what to say (and what not to say) when communicating dental benefits details to patients.

“These are benefits as opposed to insurance.” It can be worthwhile to share with patients a simple and upbeat explanation of the difference. Louise Norris, a contributor to the website healthinsurance.org got it right: Dental benefits “differ from dental insurance mainly because they don’t pay any dental expenses for you. Instead, they provide discounted prices from participating dentists. There are generally no deductibles, no waiting periods and no annual maximums.” I also like the simplicity of, “Dental benefits are like a savings plan for the patient. If you saved each month the money you pay the plan provider, you would break even on paying for your dental care out-of-pocket.” Simplicity is key.

“We are happy to navigate this for you.” A patron walks into a restaurant and orders the finest steak on the menu. The restaurateur carefully explains how the cows are raised, what they are fed, the slaughter, the processing of the meat, the delivery of the raw steak to the restaurant and the precise way in which it was prepared. The patron is disgusted and leaves the restaurant. A second patron walks into the restaurant and orders the finest steak on the menu. The restaurateur isn’t available, so the maître d' seats the patron then promptly brings out from behind closed doors a perfectly prepared, sizzling steak. The Elmer Wheeler old adage goes, “Sell the sizzle not the steak.” Less is more when explaining dental benefits. Wheeler encouraged communicators to appeal to the senses and emotions. Talk about how easy the process will be for the patient since you will handle it for them, how you will see to it that they will be reimbursed the maximum possible, and, where you can on larger cases, offer to pre-submit the claim and provide an estimate of what the patient can expect out of pocket. Take it a step further by offering a payment plan for out-of-pocket expenses.

“We can show you a better alternative.” (Not, “We are no longer accepting your plan.”) From the practice’s perspective, there are plenty of reasons to drop plans. But from the patient’s perspective, it can be perceived as disappointing or even catastrophic. They may have been patients of the practice for years or even generations, and if they think dental benefits work like health insurance, it can be an instant relationship killer. Consider this: you never even have to mention that you dropped the plan. (And certainly, don’t send a canned letter announcing it that way.) Instead, work with your team or marketer to document at least 2-3 ways that the patient can stay. For example:

  1. Let us help you get on a better plan
  2. Pay up-front and get a credit toward more services
  3. Finance through CareCredit (or similar provider)

These communications should present to the patient new opportunities and the practice saying, “Yes!” – not the other way around.

At some point, certainly, you will need to tell the patient that you no longer accept the plan. If you have any intention of keeping the patient this should be a face-to-face conversation.

The boldface phrases outlined above work face-to-face and can also be expanded into text for the practice's website and marketing materials. Communicate up-front, clearly and often and both the patient and the dental team will benefit.

Year End 2017 Starts Now

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You have a big production goal for 2017, and getting to that goal starts today.

 Your competitors are still in a holiday-induced fog. They might start thinking about their goals when the taxman comes knocking in April.

Not you.

You have decided to hit and exceed your goal this year, and you are ready to take any and all action to get there. That single decision means more patients, faster than ever before!

To help kick things off, get your free social media team training kit and initial marketing plan from the dental marketing experts at Big Buzz. Simply click the button below, fill out the short form and we will get in touch by phone to jumpstart your brand new year with you.

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7 Tips to Carry You Through 2017 Worry Free

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Production concerns keeping you up at night?

Every practice owner has been there: awake at 2 a.m. with the cold sweats, sure that the practice’s production is so far down the tubes that personal bankruptcy is imminent. Here are seven tips to reframe and right the situation to ensure a productive and profitable 2017:

1. Take stock. F.E.A.R. stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. The mind can play real tricks when it comes to finances. Print four financial reports for the ultimate clarity: profit and loss (accrual basis), balance sheet, accounts receivable and accounts payable. The profit and loss (accrual basis) will show you any upcoming cases, or income, that will soon be in the bank. The balance sheet will show what you have in the bank and what you owe, which will allow you to calculate what remaining assets and/or credit may exist to float you through a rough patch. The accounts receivable will detail any past-due collections. Call those patients now and get a credit card over the phone. The accounts payable will show any bills that you owe. Call those vendors now and arrange for longer terms. All four of these reports together paint a picture of exactly where you are now. Armed with this information, you have the opportunity to pivot.

2. Think big. If the reports confirm your concerns, the next step, contrary to what your mind will tell you, is to think big. What is your dream production goal? Document it and decide to achieve it. In 1937, Napoleon Hill wrote “Think and Grow Rich” and he reminds readers that wanting is not enough. Now is the time to decide to achieve your dream goal and to eliminate all other possibilities. This single step is critical in getting back on track – and soaring upward from there. The only way the team, your vendors and you can improve this situation is for you to firmly decide exactly where you are going next.

3. Scale back… strategically. The key word here is strategicallyand I might add temporarily. The knee-jerk reaction is to cut costs, at all costs. Don’t cut anything that is making you money, such as the team, employee pay, employee benefits or the marketing budget. All of those are investments, and they keep the practice running and production dollars arriving every day. Instead, renegotiate payment terms with suppliers, labs, and other vendors. Call your marketer, share the facts and your goal and ask them to provide a new marketing strategy to get you there.

4. Rally the troops. In wartime, generals have pep talks with the soldiers before asking them to fight harder. It’s one of the toughest things to do as a leader: maintain a strong exterior when you feel depleted on the inside. Don’t go it alone. Huddle with your marketers to develop communications to share with the team about the state of the practice and your goals, and learn ways to inspire the team to take action. Set benchmarks toward completion of the goal, assign tasks to individual team members and make it clear how they will be rewarded when they reach the goal. Your positive approach will be the clincher.

5. Refinance. If you have existing practice debt, contact a lender that specializes in dental practice finance. Wells Fargo and MedTrust Capital are two of our favorites for their creativity and true understanding of small businesses. Explore with the lender of your choice options for refinancing. Savings of 2% on a $100,000 loan adds up to $2,000, and right now, every penny counts.

6. Reduce your lease payment. Work with a reputable dental realty company like Carr Healthcare Realty to negotiate a better lease rate. A simple meeting with your landlord and the right broker can yield hundreds or even thousands in savings. By doing this, one dentist saved $15 per square-foot in a 3,000-square-foot practice. That’s over $3,700 per month!

7. Surround yourself with success. Stop listening to the naysayers. If you have a Nervous Nellie on the dental team, invite that person to seek fulfilling employment elsewhere. If you have a Debbie Downer in your family, kindly ask them to keep their negative thoughts to themselves. Seek out peers, mentors, consultants and/or business coaches who will believe in you, lift you up and even help you get to your goal. You know what they say about birds of a feather. Flock with the sort that flies high!

Put your production worries behind you once and for all. Get a complimentary marketing plan that will ensure long-term success.

 

Tips for Starting Your 2017 Marketing Off Right

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I’m sure you’re ready for 2017 to be your practice’s best year yet. 2016 is ending on a high note, and you want to end 2017 even higher. The best way to ensure you’re starting 2017 on the right foot is to set the stage for January 1st, setting a solid foundation for all of your 2017 goals to become reality.

Design your budget with realistic, yet successful goals in mind. Review your 2016 as specifically as possible, ensuring that there are enough resources to accomplish your goals. Consider for your staff, equipment, rent, travel expenses, etc. Big dreams = big budget.

Think back about your ideal patient. Is the ideal patient profile you once envisioned still your ideal patient? Throughout 2016, who made the highest-quality patient? What type of patient will help you reach your 2017 goals? Get as granular as you can: demographic, gender, age, insurance coverage, etc. Evolve your mindset (and your dental team’s) around attracting as many of these ideal patients as possible in 2017.

What makes you and your practice different? Why do those ideal patients return to your practice? Why do they refer to your practice? Make sure that you and your team are clear on what makes you different from (and better than) your competitors, and how you can continue to effectively portray that to those prospective patients. What makes you different is why they will love you.

Review and update your 2017 marketing strategy. Are all of your marketing materials – from signage, to phone greetings, to waiting room décor, to digital marketing, to brochures and beyond – designed and catered to attracting your ideal patient? Every single aspect of your practice can (and should) be used as an effective marketing tool to attract your ideal patient to your door, have them return, and encourage them to refer to you.

To ensure success and growth, it is imperative to track your progress and evolve your strategy accordingly. Hold your team accountable, schedule regular meetings to track progress, and inspire everyone to work toward the same end goal.

Let Big Buzz support you in kicking off your 2017 marketing! Call 720-350-4484 today for more information.

Google’s New Review Feature: How Does It Impact Dentists?

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A recent Google update directly impacts dentists and their practices. Google now incorporates “Reviews from the web” in their knowledge panel for businesses, including dental practices.

The knowledge panel is a box of information that appears on the right-hand side of Google search results. It contains information relevant to your business and services that is pulled from your Google My Business account and other third party sources.

Previously, only Google reviews appeared in the knowledge panel. With this update, Google will be filtering reviews from a variety of websites, such as Facebook, Healthgrades, PracticeMojo, and others.

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This update directly impacts dentists, as smaller and more niche review sites will gain more visibility across Google. This opens a great opportunity for dentists to further refine, manage and evolve their online reputations. It is possible that there are online profiles for your practice that you are entirely unaware of.

Stay on top of your online reputation and online reviews by searching for your practice on Google, to first see if it has started pulling third party reviews for your practice. Go through the search results for your online profiles and websites that may already house reviews for your practice. If you want to take your online review management to the next level, there are several reputation management systems available that will automatically pull and filter your online reviews.

Now is the time to promote collecting as many positive reviews as possible on each of the platforms that come up for your practice, as opposed to just Google or Yelp. Each positive review will help to dilute any negative reviews and build your overall positive reputation.