Identifying your Competitive Advantage

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How does my dental practice stack up to the competition?

What’s the competition doing that I’m not?

How can I be sure to stand out from other dental practices?

These are just a few questions that we are regularly asked by the dentists we serve. The key to identifying your competitive advantage is research. Here are 4 exercises you can do now to be sure your practice stands out and stacks up:

 

Exercise Time Needed Instructions Desired Outcome
1. Complete competitor research 2 hours First, make a list of all dental practices in the area that your patients may have considered before coming to you. Next, visit each of their websites and answer these questions: 1) What is the #1 value they claim to provide? 2) Is that similar or different than what your practice claims as its #1 value? You will have a definitive list of attributes for which your competitors are currently best known (or think they are best known). You will have clarity on whether your practice is truly different than others in its value proposition.
2. Ask the people 3 hours Start by emailing 25 of your ideal patients a one-question survey: “What do we do best as a dental practice?” Then read all the responses in one sitting and look for a common theme. Finally, ask yourself whether the #1 attribute your best patients remember about you, as shown in the survey responses, is clear across your website and marketing materials. You will validate and likely strengthen your practice’s value proposition and differentiators.
3. Understand the market 1 hour Call any reputable dental marketing firm and request a demographic report. Several agencies provide this as a complimentary service. In reviewing the provided data, you will be able to see from where in your community patients may come, from where your competitors are drawing patients and what new opportunities there are to reach beyond a 5-mile radius of the practice to attract new patients. From this, you can make hard and fast decisions about how to improve your competitive edge.
4. Understand your practice 1 hour Pull practice reporting to understand from which marketing sources most patients are coming, who the loyal referrers are and how the front office is tracking these metrics. Where needed, work with a consultant to add internal systems and structures for better tracking in the future. Based upon this data, refine marketing spend to only those tactics producing healthy returns and ramp up referral strategies for even more of a competitive advantage.

Dentistry is a highly collaborative industry. At the same time, with more dental students entering the market and more corporate dental practices opening than ever before, it’s a critical time to identify and claim your competitive advantage.

What is a Mood Board and Why is it Important to Your Brand?

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Building a brand doesn’t happen overnight. Target market research, data analysis, internal interviews, and much more go into the brand creation process. Beyond the hard facts and figures, though, is another brand-building tool: the mood board. A mood board is a collection of designs, images, shapes, symbols and colors that represent your brand. A mood board will typically stem from brand messaging or a unique value proposition, and from there, it will likely evolve into a style guide, giving the brand a foundation go off of when creating new marketing materials, products and more. Having a mood board for your practice ensures all marketing and promotional materials are consistent and portray the same message.

Here are four more reasons to invest in a brand mood board:

  1. Collaboration becomes easier.
    A mood board clearly shows a practice’s design principles, making it easy for anyone on the team to build materials consistent with the overall brand.
  1. Time is saved.
    A mood board helps to build a library of approved images, patterns and fonts, saving time on managing opinions and approvals down the line. Instead of spending time deliberating over the type of look of a certain Facebook ad should have, the mood board helps guide the process, getting your message to market faster.
  1. A strong visual framework is built.
    When your brand’s look and feel is clearly communicated across your team, it makes any decision that affects your brand’s image a no-brainer.  You can rely on the mood board for inspiration and guidance.
  1. Your patients and staff members are represented
    When you build your mood board based on the practice’s brand messaging or unique value proposition (which is gathered via survey data), you are building something that represents the thoughts, opinions and values of your patients and staff members. For example, one of our clients ordered a large-scale print of one of the images featured in their mood board and hung it in the office’s reception area. It so perfectly reflected what the practice was all about and resonated deeply with the target audience.

The development of a mood board is an integral part of the brand-building process. Do the work upfront and save time, money and frustration on future marketing projects.

Struggling with your mood board design? Contact Big Buzz at 720-350-4484. We have designed mood boards for hundreds of practices to help them establish a design foundation.

A Guide to Marketing Your Practice

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As the owner of a dental practice, you may be involved with all facets of the business: staffing, scheduling, bookkeeping, accounting, IT support, and so much more. With all that on your plate, marketing may not be a top priority. In order to attract new patients and keep the schedule full, though, marketing is vital. If you are just starting to market your practice, here is a three-step guide on how to do just that.

Step 1: The first step in marketing your practice is to conduct a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis identifies the following for your practice:

  1. Strengths – Look at what makes your practice unique. What do you offer that your competitors don’t? List out everything your practice does better than the rest.
  2. Weaknesses – When identifying your practice’s weaknesses, be honest with yourself. What could you be doing better? What’s hindering your success? Think about it from a patient’s perspective (wait times, ease of scheduling, hours, etc.).
  3. Opportunities – Look at the areas where your practice could grow and expand. Perhaps you’re now in a position to hire an associate or expand into a second location. Think of how these areas can help your practice grow.
  4. Threats – When you look at threats, what can you anticipate or prepare for that may impact your practice? Is there a new practice opening next door? Is construction happening, making your office difficult to locate? Are you experiencing heavy turnover? Be sure to look at both internal and external threats.

From this analysis, you will be able to determine where to focus in order to yield the most success long term. You can look at what you’re already doing well in terms of attracting new patients and keep doing that, and you can also look for areas of development to see where you might need to invest more to grow.

Step 2: Once you have finished the SWOT analysis, you will want to build out an ideal patient profile. Having an ideal patient profile will help you identify the types of patients you want to replicate and uncover how they found you, where they look for healthcare resources, what would inspire them to make a referral, etc. Survey this list of ideal patients in your current practice to pinpoint the kinds of marketing they pay attention to so you can invest your marketing dollars there.

Step 3: After you have gone through the SWOT analysis and have created an ideal patient profile, now it’s time to construct your marketing plan. Based on the research conducted in steps one and two, your marketing plan should unveil itself – you’ve answered the questions such as “What’s worked well in the past?” and “How are patients currently finding you?” Identify the handful of tactics with which to proceed and then measure results for three to six months to properly assess if your plan has worked. Do the heavy lifting upfront and you’ll see your efforts pay off!

Still having a tough time building your marketing plan? Contact Big Buzz at 720-350-4484. We have built hundreds of marketing plans for practices nationwide and would love to help ignite your practice’s marketing and fill your appointment list!

Google Announces Latest Core Algorithm Update

By | SEO

Google announced last week on Wednesday, August 1st, that it had begun to launch its latest broad search algorithm update. The news was released via Twitter after the general search community noticed abnormal shifts in rankings and traffic data. According to a recent article by Search Engine Land, the update is still in progress. Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan said, “Say by middle of next week, should be fully rolled out.”

Google releases several core algorithm updates a year, some of which they confirm and some of which they don’t. One of the most recent tweets stated:

The March update and the April update were also “broad core algorithm updates.” With the ongoing rollout Google has stated:

 

So what does this mean?

According to Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land, “This algorithm update seems to be a more significant update, based on many of the metrics we are tracking. Google’s aim with these updates is to improve the overall quality of the search results provided to searchers.” However, Google has stated that webmasters do not need to make any technical changes in compensation for the rollout stating that “no fix” is required.  The core update is simply designed to promote websites that were once unvalued.

 

What should you do if you are seeing rankings and traffic changes?

The best thing to do for the time being is to be patient until the core release is complete and then re-analyze your website metrics. Google recommends that you continue to make changes to further improve the user experience and add even better quality content to your website. If by next week you continue to see drops in regards to your keyword rankings and traffic we suggest reaching out to an SEO expert who can run an audit to identify areas that may be putting your website at risk.

Give Patients What They Want Then What They Need

By | Uncategorized

At the core of every successful (or unsuccessful) relationship is emotion, as it is human nature to make decisions based on one’s “gut feeling.” While not a novel concept, this idea is worth bringing to light, especially when discussing the patient-doctor relationship.

Your patients are human and the decisions they make for themselves and their families impact real people. In their journey to find a dentist or accept treatment, they may often may go with the solution that “feels right.” Aligning their needs, wants, desires and interests with your specific service, in a way that resonates with them, is how a successful relationship is formed.

This is very clearly outlined when looking at how a product becomes successful. Take, for example, children’s vitamins. A child may need to take vitamins daily to boost their immune system and keep them healthy; however what they want is a treat that is sugary and sweet. From this concept, the thousands of variations of children’s vitamins were born.

By focusing on and truly understanding why your prospective patients tick, your practice will be able to cater to exactly what they want. Once in the door, your practice can then deliver exactly what they need. Many times, the patient doesn’t know what they need or understand the condition of their oral health. As they continue to interact with your practice and see how you have helped them to overcome their obstacles, barriers or challenges, there will be no question as to whether or not they stay loyal, accept treatment and refer others.

Getting them in the door requires giving them what they want. Keeping them satisfied requires giving them what they need.

More than a Feeling: How to Know Your Marketing is Working

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Depending on the type of marketing your practice is doing, results can often be a mix between subjective and objective. Open houses and brochures lend themselves to greater brand awareness, which can be hard to measure, whereas tactics like online advertising and SEO are highly data-driven. Regardless of the types of marketing you are implementing, it’s important to examine the data to ensure it is working, rather than just relying on a gut feeling. Here are three ways to do just that:

  1. Make sure your marketing agency provides monthly reporting. This can come in the form of a PDF or an online digital dashboard, and it’s important that metrics such as calls to your practice, forms submitted through your website and conversions from your online advertising campaigns are included. This data will allow you to see month-over-month how your results are progressing. When mixed with office data, such as how many new patients were seen or monthly production figures, your marketing team can see how the tactics impacted the practice and refine the strategy as needed.
  2. Stay in communication. Communication is key in understanding what’s working and what’s not. “Setting and forgetting” is not a strategy often recommended. It’s important to share information with your marketing team about what’s happening in the practice so that they can move with agility to refine the plan as needed. For example, if the marketing team is seeing dozens of calls to the practice, yet not many new patients have been scheduled, perhaps those calls occurred when the office was closed. In that case, you may want to turn your ads off during that time frame or look into an online scheduling too.
  3. Review long-term results. Some marketing tactics can take longer to produce results than others. While direct mail or online advertising can generate new patients almost immediately, something like social media can progress more slowly. When results occur at a slower rate, it can feel as though something’s not working. However, when you look at more long-term data, you may be able to see a better picture of the results. Social media may not feel like it’s making a difference day-to-day, yet over the span of six months, it can contribute greatly to an increase in website traffic. Give most tactics at least six months before changing gears.

If you are struggling to measure results, contact Big Buzz. We can get you set up with a custom dashboard immediately and identify what’s working and what’s not within your current marketing strategy.

Manifest More of What You Want: How to Create Your Ideal Patient Profile

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When we begin working with a new client, clarifying their goals is priority number one. We want to be sure that everyone on our team, and theirs, is clear as to the direction we’re headed. In doing that, we sometimes hear goals about reducing cancellations, eliminating no-shows or avoiding certain insurances.

As the old adage goes, what you focus on grows.

This is the point where we as your marketing team help you to shift gears. We ask questions like, “What kinds of patients do you want more of?” “Who are your best patients?” “What kinds of procedures do you want to do more often?” When we focus here, the story shifts from worrying about cancellations to envisioning your ideal work day. Imagine how much better life will be when you’re spending time with patients you love performing work about which you’re passionate. That’s the goal, right?

One way to manifest more of what you want is to create your ideal patient profile.

To start, gather information about your current patient base, such as age, gender, zip code. Who makes up your current pool of patients?

Next, think more about those patients. What is their average income? Do they work in similar industries? Are they married or single? This will help to get a feel for who they are beyond the basic facts and figures.

Now, out of all your patients, who are those that you’d want to replicate over and over again? It would be hard to do off demographic data alone, so consider factors such as lifestyle, hobbies, health interests, etc. If you’re an avid outdoorsman who values staying healthy in all areas of life, you likely incorporate that philosophy into your treatment and want to attract patients who also value their overall health. If you are a mom with three children and see the impact early preventive care can have on kids’ oral health, you may be looking to attract more young families, so you can make a greater difference in your community.

Once you’re clear on who your ideal patient is, you can begin to craft your marketing in a way that draws in those types of people. For the health-focused folks, this may mean advertising in local gyms or launching an online remarketing campaign to appear on health-centered websites. For moms, this may mean a Facebook advertising campaign with images of young happy patients, your kid-friendly reception area or fun flavored tooth paste.

Storytelling has emerged as a huge trend in marketing, as people want “the feels” as much as they want the deals.  In order to do this effectively so that you are manifesting more of what you want, document your ideal patient profile and work with your marketing team to implement strategies for attracting more of those types of patients to your practice.

How IT is Different from Marketing

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IT or Information technology is defined as, “the technology of the production, storage, and communication of information using computers and microelectronics”. Marketing on the other hand is defined as, “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”. Both are critical parts of business, but they are two very different and separate services.

An IT department focuses on the technological structure of your practice. Its job is to oversee the management of information systems, such as phones, emails, Internet connections and more. The top priorities for an IT manager are data integrity, security, infrastructure management and stability.

On the other hand, marketing focuses on building brand awareness, differentiating the practice in the marketplace and attracting new patients. Marketing may take the form of website development, online advertising and email marketing, and while marketing may utilize information technology, it simply isn’t IT.

When issues arise with your phones or emails, or if your website’s hosting or domain lapse in renewal, these are often IT issues and should be handled swiftly by your IT manager. IT specialists are often engineers with the knack for problem solving these complex technical issues.

On the other hand, when patient numbers need a boost, you need support with social media posts or you acquire a second practice that needs a new website, that’s when you should call your marketing partner. Marketers will put their creativity and expertise to use to get you the results you seek.

Successful practices have both a strong IT team as well as a strong marketing team, as both will lean on one another to ensure your practice is working as efficiently as possible.

Already have an IT department but need help with your marketing strategy? Let Big Buzz do the dirty work for you. We have been serving dental practices across the country for 10 years and have over 50 different marketing tactics designed to bring in new patients today! Contact us today for a free consultation.

How To Set Up and Use Nextdoor To Reach Local Customers

By | Local Marketing

What is Nextdoor?

Nextdoor is a private social networking program specifically designed to leverage the wealth of knowledge that exists in a local community to improve the lives of neighbors.

Some of the reasons local neighborhoods and communities use the Nextdoor app is to:

  • Quickly inform others of a safety concern or break in
  • Organize groups and activities within the local community
  • Find a family dentist that other neighbors trust
  • Find out who the best handyman in town is
  • Ask for help keeping an eye out for a lost dog
  • Selling your old lawn mower
  • Finally call that nice man down the street with the community garden by his first name

The Nextdoor app offers a wide range of benefits for you, your neighbors and your community and it’s completely free to use.

Here are some 2018 statistics for Nextdoor:

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2018 Nextdoor Statistics

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How Can I Use Nextdoor For My Business?

On Nextdoor, local neighbors can post suggestions or recommendations to a message board in their community and get feedback from other individuals in their local area.  A business account on Nextdoor turns previous or current happy customers into trusted referrers for your business.

How Do I Set Up A Business Account on Nextdoor?

Step 1: Create your account

Setting up a business listing on Nextdoor is easy.  Simply navigate to the business page setup and select the business option seen below.

From there, search for your business listing by entering the name of your business and the city, state or zip code. If you see your business listing appear, claim it by clicking on the claim button. If you do not see your business, you can set up a new listing from scratch at the bottom of the results page; again, very simple to do.

 

 

Whether you have a business listing or not, you will still have to either log into your personal Nextdoor account or fill out the name, email address and password to create a new Nextdoor account. If you use your personal account you can switch between business and personal accounts via the picture in the top right area of the screen.

Step 2: Confirm Your Listing

Once you confirm your listing, you will be prompted with a confirmation number. Nextdoor will send an automated call to the business phone number.  Simply enter in the confirmation number to verify the account and continue on to setting up your business profile.

Step 3: Add Your Business Information

Similar to a business page on Facebook or Twitter, you will only have to enter your information once and requires just a few items about your business.  The first item is your business logo. A 512 x 512 square fits perfectly. The next area is your message. It is important for those visiting your page that you avoid using sales language. Just be warm, honest and welcoming.

Be sure to enter in all the information requested so that potential customers can reach out to you via their preferred method of contact. You can see in the picture below the information requested when creating your Nextdoor business listing. All of this information will be viewable to a potential customer or existing customer for the purpose of recommendations and/or contact information.

 

Congratulations! You are all set with your Nextdoor local business account. Next, we’ll discuss how to manage your Nextdoor business account to boost local awareness.

How Do I Manage My Business Account on Nextdoor?

Getting Started With Recommendations

Your business dashboard will provide you with a few insights on how to effectively manage your business listing. The first option is your reputation. This is an overview of all recommendations tagged associated with your company page. This includes total recommendations, neighborhood reach, and individuals reached within those neighborhoods. The reputation page also provides you with a few links to push awareness outside of Nextdoor. Since you will most likely be starting with little or no recommendations, you will need to put in a little work at the start to get the ball rolling.

To start, reach out to previous happy customers or existing customers to see if they would mind taking a few moments to recommend you on Nextdoor.  YOU CAN USE OUR FREE EMAIL TEMPLATE FOR GETTING MORE RECOMMENDATIONS.

Use the buttons listed under “To be seen in neighborhoods, share your page to get recommendations” section under your recommendations information.

Once your business profile is complete, post from your individual accounts to your local communities informing them that your business is open and that you want to post information that only benefits the local community. YOU CAN USE OUR FREE INITIAL POST TEMPLATE FOR GETTING MORE RECOMMENDATIONS.

Respond to Comments and Direct Messages

Nextdoor provides an easy place to monitor comments and respond to those who recommend your business. Simply go to the Neighborhood comments section in your dashboard to view a list of all the individuals who have made a recommendation for your business. The comments will have information about the user who recommended you including the location, their first and last name and their message. You will see something similar to the comment listed here.

 


 

Take this opportunity to respond with a kind message thanking the individual for recommending your business. Individuals will sometimes send direct messages that will appear in your inbox. Again, be sure to respond in a kind and timely manner.

That’s it! You’re all set with your local business listing on Nextdoor. For additional information, Nextdoor provides a help page including graphics, walk-throughs and tips on how to increase your exposure on Nextdoor.

Conclusion

Nextdoor is a great place to get recommendations for your local business. The more you get the word out about your business, the more referrals you will get. To ensure that you are maximizing your online exposure, take advantage of our FREE ASSESSMENT AND REPORT.

 

 

 

 

Why You Should Streamline Vendors

By | Uncategorized

Owning and operating your own business is becoming increasingly challenging. In small businesses such as dental practices, each employee must wear multiple hats. They must be dynamic, flexible and determined. Too, they must manage their time wisely. One of the greatest obstacles testing each of those traits can be managing multiple vendors.

In a small business, time is your most valuable weapon. If your time, as the doctor, treatment coordinator, front office manager, or anywhere in between, is spent connecting with, juggling, managing and communicating with multiple vendors, you are indirectly hindering the growth and success of the practice.

Chances are, as you’ve grown your practice, you’ve engaged with multiple vendors along the way. Perhaps you have an SEO agency, a direct mail house, an ad in the local newspaper, etc. Consolidating your vendors can have an invaluable impact on your business in three main ways:

Clear Billing and Reduced Costs

When dealing with a single vendor, billing is clear, easy to manage and can be tracked each month. Paying one vendor requires less time from yourself and your staff, freeing time (which is money!) to focus on other aspects of the business.

Cohesive Strategy

If you are working with multiple vendors, there are likely mixed strategies being implemented and mixed messages being deployed. Marketing is most effective when it is congruent and cohesive, so utilizing one team of experts to deploy the comprehensive marketing strategy will create infinitely better results.

Improved Customer Service

By working with one vendor, you will likely have one point person. This will allow you get to know one another, learn how you work best together, and set a solid foundation for the most fruitful and successful business partnership. Not to mention, you will always have someone you actually know to call or email, rather than struggling to find a customer service number or remember the name of your current rep. By working with a single point-person or vendor, the service and relationship will thrive.

Finding the right marketing vendor for your practice is no small feat. There are hundreds of dental marketing agencies that can offer a wide array of services, but only a select few that are full-service and can take all of your marketing needs in house.

Consider what it may look like to consolidate your vendors. If you would like support or guidance about what and how to ask, reach out to a Big Buzz expert today!