Identify and Engage with Your Ideal Patients

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As a dentist, you see a variety of patients come through your doors. Some are price-shoppers, some don’t return for treatment, and some are what you would call, your ideal patient; they keep their appointments, they refer others to the practice, they pay on time, and you have great rapport with them. An ideal patient looks different for each practice. For example, some practices may desire more implant patients while others are looking for more families and general dentistry patients. Whatever your perfect patient may look like, it is essential to the growth of your practice to first identify this patient, and then determine how to market to them based upon their behaviors and preferences.

The first step is to identify. When you think of your favorite patients, what do they all have in common? Where do they live, work, and play? What do they do in their free time? Do they have a family? Are they dog-lovers? What kinds of cars do they drive? Do they need cosmetic work? Are they older, perhaps in need of implants or dentures? What kind of insurance do they have? Get as granular as you possibly can. Write it down. Create your practice’s wish list.

The next step is to identify real life patients that fit your criteria. Who do you get excited about when you see them on the schedule? Which patients are loyal, responsive, and pleasant to be around? If you are looking to book more high-ticket procedures, look to the recent high-ticket treatment plans you’ve completed. Generate a list of those ideal patients.

Help Me Find More of My Ideal Patients

Always keep your list top of mind. Nurture your list and nurture the patients on the list. Make sure your staff is aware of the definition of your ideal patient and treats them like gold. Reserve early morning or lunch appointments for them or send them a thank you card after they make a referral. Oftentimes, we find that referrals from ideal patients will generate more patients of that nature.

Don’t forget to ask them questions. It’s okay to be candid with your patients. Ask them, what brought you to the practice? What keeps you coming back? What is the best way for you to schedule appointments? Do you pay attention to any promotional materials? Jot down their answers and use these as low hanging fruits for how to target more patients similar to them. For example, if your excellent chair-side manner stands out as a top reason why patients love your practice, take note of that and make sure every single patient you see experiences it.

Lastly, keep them engaged. Make sure that you are keeping your practice top-of-mind for your ideal patients (both current and potential) through media they prefer most. For example, if your ideal patients came to you through your Facebook page, then keep posting on Facebook, engage with as many users as possible, and continue to grow your following. Really try to hone in on what your ideal patients find relevant.

You don’t have to do this alone. If you’re swamped with running a dental practice and caring for your patients, don’t panic. Big Buzz has worked with hundreds of practices and has surveyed thousands of their ideal patients. If you need assistance identifying ideal patients, asking them those top questions, and implementing a strategy based on real research, contact us today. We can help your unique practice to grow your perfect patient base. Get your free call now.

The Importance of Tracking New Patients to See ROI

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The most effective and consistent way to grow your practice is to track where your new patients are coming from. The facts that lead to trends are imperative to record, so that your practice’s production, revenue, and profitability are clear and in your control.

The key to effective marketing is two-fold: consistency and accurate tracking. Once you have determined what types of marketing resonates with your target audience and what channels they pay attention to, keep going. Radio commercials aren’t successful after airing for just one 30-second spot. Take your practice’s unique brand messaging and continually put it out to market, over and over again.

Once the marketing is deployed, it is imperative to tediously and religiously track where every single new patient is coming from. Implement systems and structures within your practice to ensure every single team member is on board, knows what questions to ask, and knows how the information is going to be documented. One simple way to document new patient sources is to do so when the patient schedules their appointment and to note it in their file. Additionally, keeping a running document of different patient sources will help you and your team to see trends as they grow and evolve over time.

If after one month, you see that the majority of your new patients are coming from referrals, it may be worth your time to boost and optimize your team’s internal referral strategy, as to capitalize on this already viable new patient source.

If after six months, you see that not a single new patient has come from the TV commercial you are running, it may be worth your while to reallocate that budget elsewhere, to a marketing tactic that is driving new patient traffic.

Watch these trends closely month over month. Soon, the question of what marketing tactics you should be running will become obsolete. Eventually, as tracking becomes second nature to your team, you will have much more time to sit back, relax, and watch your practice thrive, knowing you are investing in the tactics that really move the meter.

Big Buzz offers clients their own custom online marketing dashboard so they can clearly see marketing results, new patient numbers, production potential and ROI.

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6 Ways to Leave a Positive Impact on your Practice, Your Patients, and the Dental Industry

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Leaving a legacy is a goal that most dentists aspire to meet. In the day-to-day throws of dentistry, it can be easy to slump into a routine and neglect the purpose of your work: to improve the lives of others. Follow the tips below to guarantee a positive impact on your practice, your patients, and your industry.

  1. Prioritize your patients. The relationships that you foster with your patients will help build trust, increase comfort, and make it more likely that they will refer others to your practice. Listen to your patients. Ask them open-ended questions and really make them feel heard. Remember, their health is in your hands, and that is so important. With positive doctor-patient relationships, satisfaction will increase all around. You will feel fulfilled practicing dentistry, your team will be busy and excited, and your patients will feel respected and valued. Not to mention, a positive relationship between a doctor and his or her patient often means more successful treatment.
  2. Take continuing education courses. Never stop learning. Staying up-to-date with dental technology and keeping your skills and your mind sharp will keep you more engaged in the practice, as well as improve your reputation as an expert dentist. Dentistry is always changing and evolving. Don’t get stuck in a familiar rut.
  3. Empathize with your patients. Empathy is simple in thought, but difficult in practice. As a dental professional, you know that a filling is an extremely simple procedure. Your patient does not. Step into his or her shoes and let them know that you hear them, that you understand their concerns, and that you’re on this journey with them. Empathy establishes trust and esteem. Trust and esteem translate into positive outcomes and satisfied patients.
  4. Invest in marketing. Marketing your practice is a surefire way to attract more patients and grow your reputation in your community. Depending on what your practice needs, marketing can get you more referrals, better online reviews, smoother team communication, etc. The list is extensive. Marketing will ensure that your practice will be successful long after you leave it.
  5. Act on your ideas. Have you ever had an idea to make a process more efficient? Perhaps you heard of a technique that will yield higher success rates? Share this at your study club. A great way to really make a name for yourself within the dental industry is to create something that benefits others.
  6. Give to something you care about. Whether your gift is money, time or labor, generosity will always be appreciated. It will also boost your practice reputation and brand awareness. Volunteer with groups that provide dental services to those less fortunate, provide toothbrushes to a homeless shelter, donate to research. Charity is key to improving the lives of others while you build your legacy.

We have #4 covered for you. Click here for a free marketing plan.

Marketing is an Asset to the Practice

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The question of marketing valuation often surfaces when the dentist is ready to transition. However, it can be a worthwhile exercise to measure the marketing efforts as an asset to the practice, even when an acquisition or merger is not on the table.

Here is a sample valuation letter to illustrate this point:

December 2, 2016

To whom it may concern:

[Practice Name] has been working with Big Buzz to strategically market the practice in order to consistently attract 50-70 new patients per month to the practice. In order to reach and sustain that goal, we have been running an online advertising campaign. The following is an overview of that service, as well as total valuation:

Overview: Online Marketing Services: Google AdWords
Big Buzz has been delivering online marketing services in the form of Google AdWords, designed to attract the ideal target patient and convert them to quality and lasting patients. In 2016, the practice website saw an average of 441 sessions per month, and 78% of website traffic was from new visitors.

Valuation: Monies invested in online marketing with Big Buzz over the past 12 months total $16,500. The campaign is designed to attract 50-70 new patients to the practice each month. The practice has seen an average of 93 new patients per month over the past 12 months. The average value of a patient is $2,000 per year. Therefore, net of marketing is valuated at $2,215,500, or $2,232,000 in returns less the $16,500 investment.

Articulating a valuation like this one is a great way to objectively measure marketing. Any marketing efforts that are expenses are simply not working. Successful marketing efforts always produce a healthy return on investment.

Are your efforts producing healthy returns?

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Connecting the Dots between Social Media and Social Networking

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The terms “social media” and “social networking” are often used interchangeably. This is not entirely accurate, though, as both are different necessary steps to creating, engaging and maintaining meaningful relationships in this growing and changing social world. Connecting the dots between the two is imperative to your practice’s success with social engagement.

In short, social media entails the actual content that is posted and put in front of your following. Social media can include an article, podcast, blog, video, or photo. In the case of social media, you own the content and you are communicating it out to a mass of people, at a fairly regular frequency.

Social networking involves engagement and relationship-building with your following. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube or LinkedIn, the focus is to connect with your audience and keep them engaged with your content.

For maximum effectiveness, a strategy must be created to align social media with social networking.

  1. Determine your method of connecting with your audience. Best practices say to vary the type of content you’re pushing out, as different media will draw in different people; an article one week, a video the next, a photo series later in the month, and so on. Consider who your target audience is (prospective and current patients) and what types of media will resonate with them.
  2. People gravitate toward what is relevant and relatable, and so will their peers. Think of your ideal patient, what burning questions they may have or what they are particularly interested in, and post about that. Their peers will follow.
  3. Keep in mind the ultimate goal: engaging users, remaining top-of-mind, positioning yourself (and your practice) as the expert, and building your following.
  4. Focus on interacting with your following and creating a sense of community. Once you have your content nailed down, all that’s left is the execution.

It is important to keep in mind that social media engagement is a long-term awareness tactic. While it will pay off in time, and the momentum will continue to grow, it will not necessarily result in an immediate influx of new patients. Stay the course to grow your online presence, build awareness around your services, and attract more potential new patients to your practice.

5 Ways the Dental Industry Will Change in 2018

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The dental industry is always changing and evolving, allowing for greater opportunity, growing competition, and more reason to be in-tune with the trends. Here are five ways the dental industry will change in 2018:

Online. Online. Online.

The Internet has changed the game in every industry, both for the consumer and the business. More than ever, consumers are scouring the Internet for information, education, and reviews before making a decision, especially in healthcare. This trend is only expected to rise, making it vital that your website is mobile-friendly, that you have plenty of positive online reviews, and that all of your online listings are accurate.

The Patient Experience Takes Precedent

It is imperative to ensure your patients have a timely, comfortable, and personable visit at your practice each and every time. Advanced technology, a modern office environment, and a welcoming atmosphere all add to the patient experience. Take it a step further by making each patient feel like your only patient; connect with them on a personal level and practice empathic listening.

Agile Financial Solutions

There is a significant lack of education among the general public about how dental benefits and insurance works. And with healthcare policies in flux, this will likely be an issue in 2018. Avoid the confusion and offer a variety of financial solutions, whether it be flexible payment options, in-house loyalty programs, or CareCredit.

The Rise of Group Practices

The number of single-doctor, single-location practices is shrinking, and will continue to do so. Much of this has to do with corporate dental, student loan debts, and the rising cost of opening a practice. By working in a group practice, you are entering into an already established patient base that likely has more capital to spend on things like marketing, coaching, consulting, etc.

Gender Shift

Historically, dentistry has been a male-dominated industry. The trends show that dental students as they enter school are essentially 50% male and 50% female, with a huge spike in young practicing doctors being female. As the older generation retires, the gender gap will continue to decrease.

 

Stay on top of the trends taking place in the dental industry to ensure your practice will stay ahead of the curve and continue to attract new patients.

Make Your Team Their Team: How to Establish a Relationship with Your Patients

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As a dentist and owner of a practice, your dental team may feel like family. Perhaps they helped you establish and grow your practice. Or maybe they have worked alongside you for decades. You likely see them as an extension of yourself and your brand.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that to new patients, your dental team is a group of strangers. It is vital to establish trust and rapport among your team and patients, especially when the patient may be signing on for a major procedure.

Let’s use implants as an example. As a dentist, you know the life-changing effects implants can have on a patient. You likely want more implant cases and get excited about the procedure. From the patient’s perspective, he or she is likely nervous about the procedure, worried about the pain, and concerned about the large financial investment.

By creating a bond between your team and your patients, you will establish a sense of trust and confidence. And that will result in increased case acceptance rates and long-term success for both parties.

Here are five ways to make your team, their team.

  1. Find common points of interest. Upon meeting with your patient or potential patient, engage in small talk to find common points of interest. Ask if he or she has kids or pets. Ask about what they like to do. Get excited. Introduce them to members of your team who may have similar likes and dislikes. Take five minutes to really engage with them. It will be worth it in the long run.
  2. Educate them. Show your patient your expertise. Talk them through the procedure with great detail and explain which members of your team will be doing what. Offer them web links, videos, and other material that you think will help them to make the right decision for their health. This will establish trust between the patient and your practice.
  3.  Let the patient talk. Ask questions and let the patient answer. Practice empathic listening – really putting yourself in the patient’s shoes to feel their challenges and concerns. It may sound obvious, but many of us tend to interrupt or zone out. Ask open-ended questions and listen, listen, listen. You’ll be surprised at how appreciated your ear will be.
  4. Repeat their concerns back to them. When you get into the nitty-gritty about the proposed dental procedure, make sure you repeat any concerns so that they know you are aware of any and all apprehensions. Use their language when answering any questions so that dental speak doesn’t overwhelm or confuse the patient more.
  5. Follow up. Have a team member follow up with the patient before and after their procedure. Beforehand, ask if there are any last minute questions they can answer. Reiterate pre-procedure instructions. Reassure them that they are in capable hands. After the procure, ask how their recovery is going and if they have any lingering questions. This attentive follow up will show your patient that you and your team genuinely care about his or her well-being.

A positive relationship between you, your team and your patients is likely to yield more positive results and outcomes. Bottom line: establish a connection between you, your team and your patient and something as simple as a cleaning will be easier, less stressful, and more successful.

Get Your Team on Board with Your Vision

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You didn’t get into dentistry to be average or just the same as the rest. Somewhere along the line, you established a strong, clear, and amazing vision for your practice and imagined the impact you wanted your dental care to have on your patients. In order to bring that vision to fruition, you need to have a driven, inspired, and equally amazing team backing you. Even more so, that team needs to be on board with your vision for your practice and your business.

A dedicated and hard-working employee can remain dedicated and hard-working without even being aware of your vision. In most cases, though, their dedication and hard work may be intrinsic. The first step, of course, is sharing your vision with your team. Beyond just reciting it, explain to them the reason behind the vision, how you came to it, and why it matters.

The next step is ensuring that each employee’s head and heart is connected to the business, the goals, and the vision. Show them how they have skin in the game – how they’ll benefit and advance both professionally and personally when the vision is achieved.

Further, people feel more fulfilled when they know the work they are doing is impactful. Working in the dental industry, this may seem obvious at times, but by keeping it top-of-mind and a main point of conversation, it will remain much more front and center. The work that you and your team do is changing lives; celebrate the successes, how you’ve impacted a patient’s life for the better, and how everything you do adds value to their lives.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, always be listening. By establishing a culture of listening and understanding, communication will evolve and trust will naturally develop. All of the aforementioned traits allow for a positive working environment, which naturally fosters growth, unity, and success. Allow your employees to come to you with questions, concerns, thoughts, ideas, and inspiration. This reciprocal relationship is exactly what you need to build, maintain, and achieve a unified vision for your practice.

Top Challenges for Dentists (And Tips for Resolving Them)

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Affordable Care Act

March 23, 2010 – Date enacted

January 20, 2017 – Date an executive order to begin repealing it was signed

Dental patients are confused and/or fearful of these changes

“Dental insurance, for the most part, isn’t covered under the Affordable Care Act. However, children’s dental coverage is a required benefit included on all ACA-compliant plans and cost assistance can be applied to any Marketplace plan that includes dental.”[1]

Resolution: Education

Dentists are going the extra mile to over-educate patients on how dental benefits work and what plans are accepted. They are also offering in-practice plans to better serve patients.

Consolidation of Providers

25.8

Percentage of dental practices with 10+ employees accounting for percent of total receipts in 1992

 Independent dentists have trepidation about this growth.

“Though dentistry has traditionally been referred to as a ‘cottage industry,’ not only are the cottages increasing in size, but they are more likely to be part of large multi-unit dental firms.”[2]

Resolution: Differentiation

Now more than ever, independent practices are investing in target market research, professional brand development and reputation management efforts in order to differentiate themselves in the market.

Encroaching Competition

42

Number of dental schools in 1950

65

Number of dental schools in 2013

This means that the marketplace is flooded with new dentists.

“In addition, several universities around the country are in various stages of planning to open a new dental school, although there is a great deal of uncertainty as to the number of these plans that will come to fruition.”[3]

Resolution: Collaboration

Gone are the days of the single practitioner working as a lone wolf. Independent dentists are pooling marketing budgets for broader and deeper market penetration, starting small group practices and collaborating in other creative ways to stay ahead of the growing competition.

Shift to Digital Marketing (and More Marketing Needed)

2008 – ADA marketing guidelines for dental practices were still quite strict

2016 – The year that the ADA published a Managing Marketing Module

“Where is your next new patient coming from? Do you know why patients are loyal to your practice? How can you avoid losing patients to another practice? The one answer to most of these questions is likely an easy one: ‘Marketing.’”[4]

Resolution: Marketing Prowess

Practices are no longer cobbling together marketing solutions, but are now hiring full-service marketing agencies to drive patients and production into the practice.

Bring Passion Back to Your Practice and Your Life

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Do you wake up and feel the weight of the day you’re about to have? The weight of the day before? Does each day drag on, yet the weeks fly by? Are you or your team feeling stagnant in your roles?

The passion and initial spark that drove you into the dental industry are still there and deserve to be reignited. Reenergize your work, your team, and your life, so that each and every day can unveil a new adventure, excitement, and learning opportunity. Below are three tips to help you get off the treadmill of your day-to-day sameness to revive your special spark.

1. Take Back Your Excitement
Remember your first day of school, the day you opened your practice, or the start of your most recent vacation – what were you most excited about? What are you lacking today? Are you missing the challenge of doing something new? Is there less opportunity, less growth? Manifest that feeling you’re lacking, and focus on that excitement.

2. Learn, Learn, and Learn Some More
The brain thrives on education, knowledge and learning. By constantly learning and challenging yourself (and your team) you are able to exercise your brain, practice critical thinking, deploy your leadership skills, and constantly improve yourself both personally and professionally. It doesn’t have to be something overly complicated; learn how to utilize shortcuts on your computer, take a new way to work, or practice long division with your children. Watch excitement return to your life by continually learning.

3. Use Your Practice to Live Out Your Ideal Lifestyle
If you really want to make a difference in your practice, consider attending the Get Off The Treadmill Summit, featuring Chuck Blakeman and Craig Spodak, DMD, in Dallas March 31 and April 1.

This event will help you and your team make more money in less time, smile more often, and get your brains back. Having your own practice doesn’t need to consume your life. This unique learning experience will revolutionize everything you know about success as a practice owner. In this two-day seminar, you will learn how to:
– Evolve your already thriving practice into a time and money producer
– Reignite your passion for dentistry
– Increase revenue, reduce expenses, and attract the best talent
– Build an environment where everyone is held accountable and is working toward unified goals
– Develop and evolve your network and community within the dental industry

Register Here!