7 Quick Steps to a Marketing Makeover

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Have new patient numbers plateaued? Not sure what to do?

Consider these 7 quick fixes to spruce up your marketing and increase practice production:

  1. Start Facebook Ads. This is a great way to immediately boost awareness of the practice and gain traction with your ideal patients. Go to Facebook, click “create ad” and choose “send people to your website”. Next, narrow down your audience by entering your practice location and choosing a radius within which your patients typically live. Narrow even further by selecting the age, income and other demographic data that is relevant to your ideal patient. Finally, add an image to your ad and develop text that encourages users to check out your practice. For example, promote “Free Smile Consultations”.
  2. Ramp Up Referrals. Incent the team today to ask for referrals every day. The trick is to observe when patients express gratitude, then deliver a one-liner such as, “We love patients like you. Feel free to send your friends and family our way.” This makes it more of a conversation than a hard ask, which is more comfortable for most dental staff members. Set a goal, such as 30 new patients from referrals each month, and share it with the team. When the whole team makes the goal together, give each member a thank you gift. It can be something as small as a $5 gift card for coffee, or a $50 gift certificate of their choice from the vendors provided by your corporate credit card point system. When we incent the staff to act, they truly take action.
  3. Spruce Up the Practice’s Web Presence. Many online marketing providers offer a complimentary online marketing assessment, wherein they offer free advice on how you can improve your website and increase traffic to it. Get one now – just fill out this quick form.
  4. Train the Team. There are plenty of marketing efforts that the dental team can spearhead for the practice, with the right training. Type “DIY Marketing” into your search engine, and you will find that several reputable dental marketing providers offer inexpensive training for your staff. They can learn everything from basic website design to search engine optimization strategies to social media solutions and more. Maximize the work that your front office contributes to the practice by making them marketing mavens. Explore options for getting your team trained – visit this web page.
  5. Ask for Online Reviews. Patients are shopping for their healthcare like they shop for shoes: they want to know what their peers think before making the purchase. At checkout, be sure that every satisfied patient is asked to write a Google and Yelp review. Consider posting instructions on the front desk to make it even easier for them. (Email us, and we will send instructions to you at no cost.)
  6. Invest A Dollar to Make Two. When it comes to investing in marketing, it’s better to start small than not at all. The best place to start is typically with a custom Google AdWords campaign for your practice. While this is not a do-it-yourself effort and is best left to the experts, the price tag is not high when you consider the return. With a monthly investment starting as low as $950, the average practice may see 5 new patients per month on a fairly regular basis from Google AdWords. If the average value of a new patient is $750, you have more than doubled your money with a return of $2,800. This single, small investment can gross the practice more than $33,000 in revenue annually! For a complimentary estimate for Google AdWords for your practice, simply send this message.
  7. Go for the Gold. Truly bold practices know that regular investment in expert dental marketing solutions pays off – big time. Forge a strong relationship with a dental marketing provider, regularly invest 5-7% of production into marketing, and you will have more likelihood than ever before of regularly reaching your new patient and production goals. Learn more here.

How to Market Your Startup Practice

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Articulate your vision. First things first – you have to get clear on what you want before you can go about attracting it. Articulation of your vision is the first step in bringing it to reality. Answer these questions in writing and share them with a mentor, consultant or marketer:

  • When you are ready to transition away from your practice, years or decades from now, what will your practice look like?
  • How will you have changed the world?
  • How will you have been different than your competitors?
  • What will you have enjoyed the most?
  • What will you have been great at?
  • What is important to you in your personal life that you will have wanted your practice to reflect?

Research competitors. Make a list of all the practices that your potential patients might consider alongside yours. Visit their websites. Compare their messages with what you articulated in your vision. Do you truly stand out from them? What needs to be enhanced or removed to give you an even greater edge over the competition?

Set a goal. Write down and share your goal for new patients. A short-term goal of how many patients you wish to see in the first year, and a long-term goal of how many patients you will be seeing once you reach capacity. This will act as your benchmark for success as you build your marketing plan.

Conduct assessments. Have a marketing agency conduct an online marketing assessment and a direct mail assessment. Although there are over 25 different marketing tactics that you could deploy to reach your goal, you likely need to start with online advertising and direct mail. These two tactics are typically best for startup practices that need to capture the attention of patients looking for a dental provider now. Yet, they can be big investments. Most reputable marketing agencies will provide an analysis of common search terms and number of viable households in your area, which will give you a clearer idea of what results you can expect before you invest.

Create a referral strategy. The minute that the first patient walks in your door, you have an opportunity to get more patients from referral. Train your team to recognize when the patient compliments the practice, then to immediately respond with an invitation to refer more patients into the practice. Consider using care to share cards to propel the referral conversation. Be sure to reward teammates for attracting referrals, and to thank individual patients for sending them. A simple gift card or thank-you note will do.

Put your best foot forward. Invest the time and money to have the practice logo and website professionally designed. A stellar brand attracts stellar patients.

Wait on the open house. Have your first practice open house 6 to 12 months after you open rather than right away. That way you will have built a community of patients who know and love you, and who will feel happy to bring a friend (potential patient!) to your event.

Set realistic expectations. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Aim to achieve your short-term goal in your first year. From there, evolve your marketing with your practice.

Snapchat for Dentists: Your Newest Marketing Opportunity

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Many dentists will see this title and immediately think, “Snapchat isn’t for me.” Or they may ask, “What is Snapchat anyway?” If you are in this category you should ask yourself this question: “Have I ever wasted money by sponsoring an event in return for some signage that provided very little return on investment?” Sponsored signage, billboards, and commercials are a dying medium because they don’t add value to an event’s, person’s or patient’s experience. In fact, they can even disrupt the experience because they attract consumers’ attention with messaging that isn’t targeted and delivered at the wrong time. On top of that, your signage is being served surrounded by other ads and sponsored announcements.You may also want to ask yourself: “Are there other ways to increase referrals beyond word-of-mouth?” If you are idly waiting for referrals to come in without actually doing anything, you’ll likely end up disappointed. Gaining more referrals doesn’t have to mean more work for you or your team, though. Enter, Snapchat.


How Can Your Practice Use Snapchat? 

To Enhance an Event:

In the past, orthodontists may have preferred to sponsor a team or host a pricey event to engage with teens in need of braces. With Snapchat, orthodontists can now engage with potential patients as well as enhance the event experience with a relevant sponsored Snapchat filter. Patients can take a picture using the Snapchat app and slide their finger across the screen to add a custom filter that may include your practice’s logo or a special message. GeoFilters allow you to target schools nearby during certain hours or during sporting events or concerts, and the costs can be under $20. It’s not just for kids; if you are looking to build awareness with an older demographic, you can target different businesses and corporations, too.

To Increase Referrals:

Another way to use Snapchat is to create a branded GeoFilter that patients can use in your office (think dental chair selfies). You can do this by limiting filter access to those specifically in your office, and it costs only about $5 an hour. This tactic takes referral marketing to an entirely new level by advertising your practice to your patients’ entire Snapchat network, as opposed to just one or two friends via word-of-mouth.

Why is Snapchat the Biggest Opportunity at the Moment? Isn’t it just for Millennials?

All future patients, not just millennials, demand authenticity in advertising, and Snapchat provides exactly that by allowing businesses to enhance a user’s social experience. But are Snapchat users really a good target market? Currently, over 20% of Snapchat users are over the age of 40. Traditional marketers will continue to say, “That’s only for millennials,” and it’s time to put a stop to this archaic proclamation.

Guess what? Millennials are turning 36, they love to spend their money, and their purchase power is growing at an exponential rate. According to Forbes, millennials are also trendsetters and they highly influence baby boomers. We can use mistakes used throughout Facebook’s history as an example. A few years ago, businesses with older customers avoided Facebook and were left in the dust as the fastest growing demographic for the platform quickly became 40+ year olds. Businesses were rewarded for being first-movers in Facebook because they were able to dominate the advertising environment with little competition. You can bet on Snapchat following in Facebook’s footsteps and redoing their pricing model once more businesses get involved.

Snapchat is on the verge of being the next big thing for marketing and it can open a window into a whole new way of targeting your ideal patients.

Create an Internal Marketing Strategy that Sticks

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More often than not, the majority of a practice’s patients come from referrals. Patients that are referred to a practice are typically of higher quality and tend to return to the practice for routine checkups and treatment. Because of this, the importance of internal marketing is ever growing in dental practices. Internal marketing utilizes the practice’s most critical assets – you, your team and your brand – to increase new patient traffic. This may come in the form of regularly posting actual patient photos to social media, holding referral contests among your team, raffling off a prize to patients who refer, and much more.

Creating and implementing an internal marketing strategy involves deciding what you want to do, making sure that the plan is maintained and getting every employee to pull their weight to make the plan happen. The entire process can be broken down into 6 main steps:

  1. Determine the goal. It’s nearly impossible to get people to implement something new into their daily routine if they are not aware of what they are working towards. Perhaps the goal is to have every employee ask for three referrals each day, or to collectively ask for 15 referrals by the end of the month.
  2. Devise a plan. The next step is to figure out how you and your team will reach this goal. Make every employee aware of the goal and work together to determine how you will achieve it. Perhaps you have signs in the break-room that say “Have you asked for a referral today?” Another idea is have each employee use a log to record their “asks” on a daily basis. The plan itself will vary based upon your practice culture, number of employees, but it is important to create a plan and stick to it.
  3. Create a positive response. Explain to your team why this internal marketing strategy directly impacts them, and therefore matters to each person individually. Offer incentives that will be given when certain milestones are met: gift cards, iPads, or paid vacation time. Collectively decide upon these to ensure each employee is equally invested in the cause.
  4. Share the finalized plan. Share and discuss the finalized internal marketing plan with everyone in the practice. Keep the discussion open; allow for questions and for the strategy to be evolved as needed.
  5. Track your progress. Determine how each employee will be held accountable and how this will be recorded. Track each employee’s efforts on a white board in the office break-room or create a “brag box” for employees to anonymously drop in each other’s names when they hear another employee ask for a referral.
  6. Keep it top-of-mind. Post the plan somewhere visible in the office or readdress it at morning huddles. Review it often and alter it as needed to keep everyone on track and to maintain the execution of the strategy.

Internal marketing is a process that will constantly evolve and grow as your practice does. Find a system that works for your practice culture and sparks a fire in each employee to fully optimize their internal marketing potential.

Source: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/create-internal-marketing-strategy-12541.html




Why Choose You?

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Patients today have more choices than ever before when it comes to their dental care: whether to visit a corporate dental practice, an independent group practice, that solo dentist right down the road from you, or your practice.

This is where brand matters most. Brand is the compass that your patients use to find you to then become loyal to you.

Marketing guru Seth Godin writes, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

The common misperception is that brand is created by the practice in the form of logo, signage, name or trademarked designs. This idea has practices creating marketing materials that they think will attract and retain patients. This approach is a phenomenal waste of time and resources.

The reality is that your patients create the brand. Forbes says, “Put simply, your ‘brand’ is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name.”

The most successful dental practices define their unique brand before creating any branded materials like logo, signage, name and marketing materials. They take the time to survey patients and truly understand what they think of the practice. What they love most about the dentists. What they believe works well. What they wish the practice would improve.

This survey process extracts the essence of the memories, stories and relationships that patients have about and with the practice. It allows the practice to download exactly what the patients think. More than that, it shows the practice what to replicate and what to change in order to delight patients, attract more of the same caliber patients, and keep patients coming back for treatment year after year.

Most dental practices don’t give brand the necessary time and energy. The result is shoot-from-the-hip marketing. The dentist likes green, so the website is green. The office manager is impressed with the practice’s state-of-the-art technology, so he touts that in the direct mailer. The dentist’s spouse doesn’t like the word “unique,” so it’s never used in marketing text.

Not one of these things matters in the patient’s mind. The patient is buying a relationship, not dental work.

What is it about your relationship with your patients that keeps them choosing you rather than your competitor for their next checkup? Why should they choose you? Have you asked them lately?

Define: Brand
What is a Brand, Anyway?

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.

*Source: https://resources.kareo.com/documents/4_Steps_Social_Media_Guide.pdf

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.

Source: http://blog.tailwindapp.com/risks-of-social-media-marketing/