How to Produce Healthy Marketing Returns

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Marketing is like investing in the stock market. Here’s what you can learn from excellent stock market investing that will help produce healthy returns in marketing, too.

  • Do your research first. You wouldn’t invest tens of thousands of dollars each year in stocks that you picked out of a hat. You would take the time to research the performance trends of several different investment opportunities. You would only invest your hard-earned money in those areas that had hard data showing high potential returns. With marketing, research on the front end goes a long way to producing healthy returns for the long-term.
  • Know your risk tolerance. Some people are perfectly comfortable making high-risk investments. Others are much more conservative. On a scale of 1-4, how comfortable are you with risk? Your answer to this question will help you determine how to invest your marketing dollars. If you are a 1, you might want to hire an expert to develop an initial, conservative marketing plan that you can deploy on your own. If you are a 4, consider investing a high dollar amount to achieve your goals more quickly, and outsourcing the entire marketing strategy to one firm that can take care of everything for you.
    • 1 – Very risk averse
    • 2 – Risk averse
    • 3 – Risk tolerant
    • 4 – Very risk tolerant
  • Look long. You would never invest your money in a mutual fund for just a month or two, expecting to make your money back right away. You would make a long-term growth strategy. In marketing, it’s important to run the same tactics for 6 to 12 months to earn returns, see trends and continue to strengthen the plan.
  • Keep emotions in check. The stock market is like a boy climbing a flight of stairs with a yoyo in his hand. The yoyo will go up and down, but the boy is always climbing higher. Rather than checking your investment portfolio daily out of fear and anxiety, you study monthly statements to understand trends and growth. In the same vein, marketing should be examined on a monthly basis to prevent getting lost in the minutia – or in negative emotions.
  • Diversify. Rarely do you see an investor put all of the money on one stock and produce a good return. Similarly, with marketing, investing in several different tactics at once drives a higher and quicker return. Consider that you want a good mix of awareness, internal, online and traditional marketing tactics. You also want to be sure to include several direct marketing tactics like Google AdWords and direct mail, which get those patients looking for a dentist now right into your door today.
  • Listen to the experts. Very few investors are successful completely on their own. It’s always best to get an initial investment plan from a qualified financial advisor, preferably one that acts as a fiduciary, or truly has your best interest in mind. With marketing, be sure to invest in a strategic marketing plan that is developed by an experienced dental marketing firm. If you don’t have the time or the talent on your team to execute the marketing plan (and be honest here!) then it’s wise to leave the deployment to the experts, too.
  • Stay the course. Even when the market is down, it’s sometimes best to stay invested. You might sell a few shares of an underperforming stock and buy a few more of a higher performing one. Same goes for marketing. Never, ever, ever stop marketing.

The Courage to Market Your Practice

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Most dental practices deploy shoot-from-the-hip marketing plans. They try a little of this, a little of that. They change gears when they feel like the marketing isn’t working. They cobble together several different programs or vendors and hope that the collective effort works.

But you are not them.

You have the courage to run your practice like the CEO of a corporation.

You have the courage to work with your team and your patients to understand exactly what keeps them loyal to the practice. Based upon that knowledge, you have the courage to make a bold promise to your potential patients, a promise that you know your team delivers with every patient interaction.

You have the courage to document in writing a long-term marketing plan, complete with specific tactics, the person in charge of each tactic, the budget allotted, expected return on investment and actual return on investment. More than that, you have the courage to train your team on your marketing plan, to delegate most of the work and to hold them accountable for producing results. Your team earns their keep.

You have the courage to outsource the marketing tactics that are best left to the experts. You know that do-it-yourself marketing is for the birds. You hire people who are smarter than you to execute everything aside from the dentistry. You 100% trust the agency or vendor that handles your marketing, because you did a great job vetting them and building the working relationship with them.

You have the courage to let go of the details and look at the big picture. Your team and your vendors report to you all marketing results once monthly so that you can study trends, not get caught in the minutia.

You have the courage to ride the wave when patient numbers are down and marketing results aren’t as expected. You have the audacity to have hard conversations with your team and your vendors. You are gutsy enough to let direct marketing patient numbers dwindle in order to inspire the team to buff up on asking for referrals. You are resolute, staying the course with your marketing firm; at the same time, you are open to the possibilities of evolving the marketing plan when trends show that it’s warranted.

You have the courage to regularly invest in marketing. You see it as the oxygen to the practice, a have-to-have not a want-to-have. You budget for it just like you budget for payroll, equipment, supplies, and lab fees.

You have the courage to invest more in the tactics that prove most fruitful for the practice. If you can invest a dollar and make two, you are more than willing to do so.

You are a courageous dentist, and we love what you’re doing to make your world and the world at large a better place. Thanks for being you!

5 Ways to Successfully Market Your Upcoming Event

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The start of summer means warmer weather and a noticeable surge in social gatherings and events. If your practice is hosting an upcoming event, here are five ways to generate interest and attract visitors.

  1. Create a Facebook Event. Many of your patients are likely on Facebook and use the site as a pseudo social calendar. By creating a Facebook Event, all details can be easily documented, promoted and referenced by patients. Be sure to include the basic details, specifically when and where the event will take place. Additional information about the event, such as if there will be food/drinks, if it’s family-friendly, etc., is always appreciated. Be sure that once you create the Facebook Event you post it to your practice Facebook page, and even your personal page, to gain exposure among your Facebook following.
  2. Utilize Email. Email your patient database to invite them to the event about six weeks prior to the date. Then, one and two weeks prior to the event, send out reminder emails. Email is one of the easiest and cheapest forms of communication and will allow you to easily get the word out about your event.
  3. Promote The Event In Your Office. Display signs or posters throughout your office with details about the event. Have your front office staff promote the event daily to patients as they check out. Provide a small postcard as a takeaway for patients so that they have dates and details handy.
  4. Post the Event To Your Website. Promote your event on your website so that patients (and potential patients who have yet to meet you) see that your practice is active in the community, stays on top of your online presence, appreciates patients, and is a group of personable, friendly people.
  5. Spread The Word. Have your staff invite their friends and family to further spread the word about your practice. Have your current patients invite their friends or family who are not necessarily established patients. Even if they are already patients, this allows your practice to stay top of mind and lays a solid foundation for referral opportunities.

Holding social gatherings and events is an effective way to keep your practice top-of-mind and grow your patient base. It allows your practice to establish relationships throughout your community, which can in-turn attract new patients and increase referrals.

Building and Managing Your Online Reputation

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Your practice has an online reputation that is constantly evolving and growing. Your online presence matters, so it’s vital that you take your online reputation into your own hands. Oftentimes, your current and future patients are turning to the Internet to find their healthcare providers. By monitoring and managing your online reputation, you are able to cultivate it as you see fit and ensure that potential new patients see an accurate picture of your practice.

By following these four easy steps, you can successfully build and manage your online reputation:

  1. Website: The Internet has changed the healthcare industry immensely, and mobile devices continue to do so. “Nearly 60% of Americans own smartphones today, and they are using them to look for healthcare services.”* Make sure your practice has a user-friendly website that is mobile-responsive and has lots of opportunities for patients to take action, whether that means liking your practice Facebook page, finding your office location, or scheduling an appointment. Find a website developer that focuses solely on healthcare websites to ensure a positive user experience and the appropriate amount of content.
  2. Social Media: Social media is no longer just a trend. Potential and current patients will turn to social media to share their stories, reviews, and opinions, and it is important and necessary for you to engage with them. HIPAA and other compliance issues should not prevent you from engaging with your online audience, just be aware of what you are posting. Do not share any personal patient information, and remain as neutral as possible. Post informative and engaging content regularly, as well as photos and practice updates, events, etc. Find a balance between being professional and social.
  3. Online Listings: Find every online listing that mentions your practice and make sure the information listed is accurate and up-to-date. Link or add your social media profile pages to the listings, if possible. Provider-to-provider networking is imperative to managing your online reputation, as it maximizes awareness of and accessibility to your practice.
  4. Review Websites: By responding to reviews and engaging in conversations about your practice online, you are automatically illustrating that you care about the patient experience and are looking for ways to improve. Regardless of whether the reviews or comments are positive or negative, they warrant a response. For positive reviews, a simply “Thank you” is sufficient. For negative reviews, respond quickly, acknowledge the patient’s frustration, and let them know you are working to fix this problem. You may also offer a chance to make it right. Research shows that negative reviews actually aren’t completely negative. If a doctor has a few negative reviews, and they respond to them online, it shows that the doctor cares about pleasing patients and is willing to acknowledge downfalls, while working to improve. Actively encourage your patients to post reviews to build a sense of trustworthiness and legitimacy for your practice.

Staying competitive and top-of-mind doesn’t have to be a chore. Simply be online, listen to what the public is saying, and engage in the conversation when necessary. Be prepared for hills and valleys, and as long as you are actively managing your online presence, you are setting yourself up for success.


Social Media Marketing: What Are The Risks?

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Social media is an ever-growing, popular mode of marketing in today’s digital world. With such an influx and overload of information, it is important and necessary to leverage yourself and your practice against the competition, while appearing relatable and professional, and communicating effectively.

Social media usage is one of the most prominent awareness and nurture tactics in marketing. When done properly, it can be immensely effective and rewarding. Before you start your own social media campaign for your practice, there are a few things to consider, including:

  1. Transparency: Every single word, image, or piece of information that is posted on a social media platform is going to be judged by the public. Social media posts can go viral within a matter of minutes, so it is imperative to post original, honest, and thorough information.
  2. Security: With this new wave of technology and the Internet, comes an increased risk of a security breach. Hackers are ever-present and also becoming more and more adept at breaking into personal accounts. If you are mindful of our online security, active on your social media accounts and use strong passwords, hackers and spammers can be more easily avoided.
  3. Emotion: Today’s online audience is hypersensitive and seems to be chomping at the bit for any piece of information to disagree with or voice their opinion about. It is impossible to please everyone, so keep posts as unbiased and neutral as possible, and never mention a specific person or group of people directly.
  4. Competition: Competition exists in every industry, especially in dentistry. Every tactic that you deploy has the potential of being mimicked, particularly if that tactic is working. Social media is no different, so just be aware of competitors and make sure everything you post is marked with your name or practice name.
  5. Legality: Everything that is posted to the Internet is permanent and can be tracked back to the source. This is something to be aware of with every public display or post, to help ensure neutrality, honesty, and originality, and to avoid any legal ramifications down the road.
  6. HIPAA: It is vital that your social media posts be HIPAA compliant. When discussing a certain type of treatment or case, avoid using any details that could identify the patient involved. That includes names, descriptions of the person, and location information. Speak in generalities. Posting photos of patients to your pages is okay, as long as you receive written consent from the patient or their guardian.

Social media remains one of the most effective, cost-efficient, and successful marketing tactics available to your practice. By being cognizant of these risks, you are minimizing problems or obstacles that may prevent your social media campaign from reaching it’s full potential, and are one step closer to maximizing it’s impact.


8 Essential Questions to Ask Once You’ve Contacted A Dental Marketing Agency

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The following are questions to ask once you’ve contacted a marketing agency:

  1. Do you specialize in dental marketing, and how many dental practices do you have as clients? A good marketing agency for your dental practice has a full understanding of the inner workings of your business, and has a strong track record for driving results with similar practices. Steer clear of general marketing agencies that may not understand the nuances of internal marketing to current patients and marketing for higher treatment acceptance rates. The best marketing agencies have consulted hundreds of practices yet provide custom strategies for each.
  1. How will you determine what marketing tactics are best for my dental practice? Every agency completes some level of market research to determine which tactics will work best for your particular practice. The best dental marketing agencies offer an integrated approach, or several marketing tactics working together at once, to reach the practice’s goals.
  1. How are marketing goals measured? Expect for any agency to report results to the practice in writing on a monthly basis, at least. Some agencies will even provide a real-time dashboard that you can access anytime to gauge progress.
  1. How long will it take to see results? Any marketing firm can get your ads placed on Google today. The best will get you new patients in just the first few weeks of engagement. 
  1. How long will it take to reach my goals? In a recent meeting among the top five dental marketers in the nation, it was agreed that it takes three months of steady, strategic marketing to consistently reach new patient and production goals. 
  1. How much does it cost? A better way to ask this is, “How much should I invest in marketing to reach my goals and realize a healthy return?” Every marketing firm can provide a written description of deliverables and associated fees.
  1. Can you provide references? It would be good to see samples of work they have done for other practices. It would be even better if they let you call a client or two for a reference.
  1. If I’m not satisfied with the results, what are my options? Not all agencies offer a cancelation policy. Get clear about how to get out of the contract before signing. At the same time, don’t put your focus on “what if it doesn’t work?” Marketing is a bit like magic; it works best when you believe.

The 3 Best Questions to Ask Before Hiring A Dental Marketing Agency

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Here are three questions to ask yourself before you contact a marketing agency:

  1. What is my specific, quantifiable marketing goal? Any reputable marketing agency will ask you up front what you want to achieve with your marketing. You might share with them that you are seeing 10 new patients per month now, and you want to be seeing 25. This helps them gauge what level of marketing is right for your dental practice. The best marketing agencies will offer a complimentary initial marketing plan to help you realize those goals sooner than later, regardless of whether you hire them.
  1. What is my practice doing now for marketing, what’s working, and what’s not working? A good marketing agency can build upon your marketing foundation. The very best agencies will advise you on what to trim from the existing plan and what to add to maximize efficiencies and effectiveness, and accelerate the time to goal realization.
  1. Who on my dental team will help spearhead this effort? Every marketing agency will tell you that it’s impossible to outsource marketing completely. They will need timely project feedback from you, approvals to ensure that expectations are aligned, logistical details like website and social media logins, etc. The top dental marketing agencies will provide you with tools and team trainings to make it easy for your marketing to run smoothly with very little effort on your part. In any case, it’s best to appoint an administrative person in the practice to tend to the details while you focus on dentistry. Be cautious not to relinquish 100% control internally, either, though. The very best agencies will update you on high-level progress and results at least once monthly.

Next week: The best questions to ask the agency once you contact them.

Do The Photos on Your Website Matter?

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Many of our clients ask, “Does it matter if I use real photos of my patients and my practice, or will generic stock photography work for my website?”

Your website is a billboard in the middle of the ocean, and it needs specific strategies and support to get noticed. Internet users are constantly becoming smarter and faster at assessing websites, and in-turn, are using your website as one of their deciding factors when deciding on a dentist. Your website often serves as your first impression to a potential patient, so it is an investment worth making.

Studies show that the photography you use does matter, and that there are huge benefits to using professionally shot photos of your actual patients, your team and your office. These authentic photos allow the visitor to connect to you, your team, your current patients, your website and the services that you offer. The photography on your website is intended to make the visitor relate to your site, and generic stock photos of smiling models (which are often sold online to multiple users or sometimes available for free) can come across as too perfect or overly staged, which is not relatable.

Visual Website Optimizer’s recent article states that professionally shot photos of your actual patients, your team and your office can improve website conversions and that generic stock photos are generally ignored. Photos are essential to your practice brand and the message that you want the public to absorb. These photos should be used to your advantage and be effective at attracting high-quality patients.

Another reason to avoid using stock photos is the potential of your competitors using the same, or similar, images. Despite the size of the stock photo pool, if a competitor is using the same or similar images, your potential patient could be confused and feel a lack of originality. If stock photos are the only viable option for your website, there are sources available where you can determine who else is using that photo.

It is important to view photography as an investment, one that can be used for years to come. Your original photos can also be used in subsequent marketing materials, such as direct mail, print advertisements, flyers, newsletters, referral postcards, welcome packets, and more.

Hire a professional photographer and allow your original photographs to tell the story of your practice and build strong relationships with potential and current patients from the start.



Why Isn’t My Marketing Working to Get Me More Implant Cases?

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Standard dental practice marketing, such as online advertising and direct mail, are ideal for attracting general dentistry patients who are actively seeking a dentist. Those patients who are considering implants are facing a life-changing event and a big investment. These patients need far more education before they will be ready to commit. In fact, they need a lot of education before they will even be ready to contact the practice for a conversation or initial consultation about implants.

Here is where content marketing comes in:

Content marketing is the distribution of insightful, educational articles or blog posts that are meant to nurture potential patients into the practice. Great content does the following:

  • Helps people overcome any fears, challenges and obstacles they may have before they part ways with their money or make that big appointment.
  • Positions the practice as the area expert on dental implants.
  • Helps answer all of the “burning questions” that keep the patient awake at night.
  • Includes all relevant search keywords in a natural, easy-to-read way.
  • Takes a stand. Offers a big “aha moment” or invites the reader to agree or disagree.
  • Is not about the practice. Rarely if ever contains the practice name. May include a byline, such as, “By John Smith DDS.”
  • Never contains an offer, discount or call to action. May include an invitation to submit questions at the end. See chart below for example.

Each piece of content is typically 300-1,000 words in length.

How is content marketing shared, and with whom?

Content may be delivered:

  • Via email to the entire business/practice database once weekly or twice monthly
  • Via the website blog, which is updated as soon as a new piece of content is finished
  • Via social media like Facebook or LinkedIn, onto which a link to the content may be posted

Content marketing is shared with current patients rather than potential patients. Current patients are far more likely to know and trust the dentist enough to complete a big implant case with the practice.

What’s the difference between content and marketing copy?

Content is insightful, educational, and never promotional like marketing copy is.

Here are a few examples of the difference:



“Clicking, popping and headaches are not normal. While it becomes the norm for those suffering from TMD, there are plenty of ways to be restored to health and freedom once more. TMD stands for temporomandibular disorder. You may have also heard the acronym TMJ, which stands for the temporomandibular joint. This joint acts as a hinge, connecting your jaw to your skull. Clicking, popping, pain and lockjaw may be caused by problems with the muscles around the TMJ or problems inside the joint itself.”

“There are no credentials right now for implantology. While there are board certified periodontists (who specialize in the health of your gums), board certified endodontists (who specialize in root canals), and board certified oral surgeons, there is no such thing as a board certified implantologist. Implant dentistry is not a specialty, and that’s a problem. Be leery of any dentist who tells you they are an implant specialist, since there is no such thing. Ask about these areas of their background.”

“The implant itself is not an actual replacement for the tooth. It is an artificial tooth root that is placed into your jaw to secure the new tooth. The American Academy of Periodontology explains it like this: “A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Dental implants may be an option for people who have lost a tooth or teeth due to periodontal disease, an injury, or some other reason.” (Source)

We welcome your questions. Please reach us at 000-000-0000 or”

“As a trusted dentist, Dr. Jones is proud to offer dentistry for your whole family. Always striving to offer our patients the most comprehensive care possible, we focus not just on teeth, but on your health as a whole – keeping you healthy and creating a smile that lasts a lifetime. Experience, education and a passion for dentistry are just a few of the reasons Dr. Jones patients call him the best dentist in the area.”

“We are a dental practice devoted to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of your smile using conservative, state-of-the-art procedures that will result in beautiful, long lasting smiles! A standard of excellence in personalized dental care enables us to provide the quality dental services our patients deserve. We provide comprehensive treatment planning and use restorative and cosmetic dentistry to achieve your optimal dental health. Should a dental emergency occur, we make every effort to see and care for you as soon as possible.”

“The beauty of a spectacular smile reaches far beyond your exterior image. When you smile confidently, you literally become happier inside. Dr. Smith offers everything from whitening to veneers to reconstructions to make your life happier inside and out. The practice also offers general, functional and cosmetic dentistry, plus orthodontics to any patient who wants to invest in life-long oral health and true happiness.”

“Explore what’s possible for your smile! Book your a complimentary initial consultation today and get a $500 credit on your bill.”

There is certainly a time and place for marketing copy. Namely, it belongs on the practice website and direct marketing materials.

Content marketing, on the other hand, is reserved exclusively to send to your patient database and share with your current patients. Over time, content marketing can add up to more implant cases – and higher quality implant patients. It often yields patients who require very little convincing to accept treatment.

6 Burning Marketing Questions about Dental Benefits Answered

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1. What’s the best way to handle “price shopper” calls?

Every practice gets these: the patient who is scrolling down the online listings for dentists in their area and calling one by one to get the best price. To handle these requests, repurpose the conversation. When the caller asks, “How much is it?” your front office might say, “I’m curious to explore the question behind your question. Tell me a little bit about what’s going on, and let’s see how we can help.” The key is to build the relationship right out of the gate. Your staff might even say, “We want to get to know you more than we want your money. How about we get you scheduled for an initial consultation to see if we’re a good match?”

2. If my practice wants to attract more PPO/fee-for-service patients, what’s the best marketing approach?

Create a profile of your ideal patient. They pay on time, accept treatment, show up on time, and carry a certain benefit plan (or no benefit plan). Now, identify in your practice 10 patients who fit that profile. Survey them and ask what marketing gets their attention: Google AdWords? Yelp ads? Direct mail? What else? Ask how they found your practice. Ask what tools they use to find their other healthcare practitioners. Replicate what resonated with them, and you will attract more of the same type of patient.

3. How do we say on our website that we accept only fee-for-service or certain PPOs – without scaring off potential patients?

Your website and marketing materials should act as sieves, straining out the patients you don’t want and leading to your door the ones that you do want. In the practice marketing materials, be inviting yet informative about your dental benefits policies. Give away enough information to weed out anyone who does not fit your ideal patient profile, but not so much detail that you fail to invite into the practice those who do match the profile. Be promotional, not educational – the time to educate the patient is after they come into the practice and are face-to-face with you. Do be certain to address dental benefits on your website. Saying nothing at all would be leaving a big question unanswered, which may cause the potential patient to never even contact you.

4. How do I extend an enticing offer to attract new patients when I already take a hit on my profits by accepting insurance and can’t afford to discount my fees?

First, consider this: existing patients are your number one asset, not new patients. Consider making the offer to them instead, or as well. Second, rarely discount your fees. It diminishes your credibility and value. Instead, offer something of added value: a $25 gift card to a local retailer, a Sonicare toothbrush, or free whitening trays, for example. When practices offer something like this to current patients in exchange for a referral, the practice attracts more people who fit the ideal patient profile and, perhaps most importantly, solidifies patient loyalty.

5. Can I still rely on dental benefits directories for a steady stream of new patients?

Would you hire a marketing agency that takes a percentage of your fee for each patient that they lead to the practice? Absolutely not. Round out your marketing strategy with tactics that attract implant patients, crown and bridge patients, fee-for-service patients, and those who fit your ideal patient profile. A good mix of patients will serve the practice well for years to come.

Want to attract more patients that fit your ideal patient profile? Schedule a complimentary consultation.