Why Tracking Your Marketing Matters

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Marketing should be considered an investment, not an expense. To be sure your marketing is effective and providing a healthy return on investment, it is necessary to accurately and diligently track your marketing efforts.

By tracking your marketing results from the start, you will be able to establish baseline performance numbers and then work to improve upon them to reach your goals.

Two things are imperative to accurately and adequately track your marketing:

  1. Determine the average lifetime value of a patient. How much will the average person spend over the course of being a patient?
  2. Calculate how many new patients you need so that marketing more than pays for itself. Ideally, each new patient should bring enough revenue into your practice to cause a return on investment for your marketing tactics.

By establishing these baseline numbers, it becomes extremely evident how critical each new patient lead is, and how important it is to minimize the gap between new patient leads and actual new patients.

Marketing is an evolutionary process that requires recalibration as your practice shifts and grows and as your goals increase. Tracking your marketing efforts allows you to have a full picture into what’s working and what needs improvement, at any point in time. By constantly and thoroughly tracking your marketing efforts, you will always have full awareness and insight into your marketing.

How to Inspire Patients to Love Your Practice

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Patients are not buying a healthy smile from you. They are buying a relationship with you. Your energy level in each patient interaction is precisely what will propel the marketing and the practice.

The introduction to the classic psychology book How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie says, “There is no such thing as a neutral exchange. [With every interaction], you leave someone either a little better or a little worse.”

Here are 5 steps to ensure that every patient interaction leaves them a little better:

  1. Start with number one. Everyone in the practice, both patients and team members alike, match your energy every day. Are you bringing positivity to every interaction? Or do you often get mired in the challenges involved in owning a dental practice, and let it show? Are you a natural at winning friends, or are you more of an introvert? Do being hopeful and compassionate come naturally to you, or do you have to put effort into it? If you answered yes to the former parts of each question, you’re in great shape to move forward with the steps. If you are leaning more toward the latter parts, it may be good to invest in some leadership growth. In addition to Carnegie’s book, mentioned above, here are a couple of other good resources:
  2. Practice with the team. Connect with each member of the team every day, in meaningful ways. One easy way to do this is to affirm their contributions to the practice.  Carnegie writes, “We are all united by one single desire: to be valued by another.” This is not to say that your employees deserve praise 100% of the time. And sure, it’s appropriate to provide constructive feedback every now and again. But overall, assuming you have hired well, your team is working hard. Acknowledge the little things and give unexpected accolades. Here are just a few that I overheard in a dental practice recently:
    • “I want you to know that I notice that you arrive every morning a half hour before everyone else, and that I appreciate it and the team does, too.”
    • “You are always smiling. Do you know what a positive impact that has on our patients? I’m so grateful for you.”
    • “You handled that just the way I would have. Keep up the great work.”
  1. Ask “why” rather than “what.” In making small talk, we often ask, “What do you do for a living?” Or we otherwise ask about people’s work. Instead, ask patients why they do what they do. You will notice that they will soften and open up, talking about dreams, desire and even destiny. They may even share with you dashed goals, which is a great opportunity to empathize and connect.
  2. Explore what’s behind the statement. Human beings don’t like to be vulnerable. We mask our emotions from others in all kinds of clever ways. Listen closely to the inflections and words that a patient uses. There may be more behind what they are saying. For example:
    • Uh-huh… It’s… comfortable,” said in a small voice may mean, “I’m hurting, but I’m nervous to say so.”
    • “I didn’t think it would be that expensive!” may simply mean, “I’d like payment options to make me feel more comfortable.”
    • “I have to think about it,” may mean, “I have questions and concerns that I’m uncomfortable voicing.”

One of my favorite responses in these situations is simply a curious, “Tell me more.” This allows you time to intuitively process what they are saying and it gives them the opportunity to open up and tell the truth about how they are feeling.

  1. Take interest in other’s interests. Carnegie offers a few questions to start:
  • Where did you grow up?
  • What high school did you go to?
  • What are your kids’ names?

He urges readers to commit to asking thoughtful questions of every person they encounter. Instead of spending the day in thought about dentistry and how best to run the business side of the practice, connect with those who mean the most to the practice’s success: the team and the patients. “Interact with them,” Carnegie writes, “and discover what problems you might help solve or what pursuits you might help promote.”

When you leave each patient a little better, they become brand ambassadors for the practice, singing your praises across town with very little effort or prompting from you. This translates not only into more production dollars in the form of new patients, but also a more loyal team and a more fulfilling career.

What’s Leadership Got to Do with It?

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What does leadership have to do with marketing?

Everything.

Consider these two scenarios:

Practice A

Invests $40,000 per year in external marketing efforts. Dentist can be described as “low energy.” Is not very interested in the team, and has not provided training for asking for referrals, phone skills, patient relationship building, etc. Occasionally delegates, but could do so more often. Seeing 5-10 new patient inquiries per month, converting less than half of those into actual patients. Having trouble growing the cosmetic side of the practice.

Practice B

Invests $20,000 per year in external marketing efforts. The dentist is committed to actively improving him or herself and the team, has high energy; people want to do their work best around this person. Has inspired the team to provide excellent patient care and service and regularly ask for referrals. Seeing 5-10 new patient inquiries per month from external marketing, which is translating to about 8 actual new patients per month. In addition, is seeing 10 new patients per month from the team’s commitment to asking for referrals. Total new patients per month: 18. Easily converts general dentistry patients into cosmetic patients thanks to the trust and loyalty that patients feel to the practice and the dentist.

Which leadership attributes that dentists possess give way to overall practice success?

Here are the top 16 leadership attributes for dentists[1]:

  1. Action Oriented – Actively working, full of energy when it comes to challenges, seizes opportunities.[2]
  2. Caring About Direct Reports – Interested in people who they work with, asks about plans, problems and desires, knows about personal concerns of others, monitors work load and acknowledges extra effort.
  3. Confronting Direct Reports – Deals quickly with issues in the practice in a timely manner, holds regular discussions about growth and performance, deals effectively with low performers or troublemakers.
  4. Patient Focus – Dedication to meeting patients’ needs, acts with patients in mind, establishes rapport and relationships quickly, will put off tasks to exceed patient expectations.
  5. Directing Others – Good at setting clear direction and objectives, excellent planner, manages workload of self and others, is well planned, people want to do their best around this person.
  6. Integrity and Trust – Widely trusted by others, is direct and truthful, keeps confidences, admits mistakes, doesn’t misrepresent for personal or professional gain.
  7. Managerial Courage – Says what needs to be said, provides current, direct and respectful feedback, lets people know where they stand, is not afraid to take unpopular action when needed.
  8. Motivating Others – Able to articulate vision clearly and consistently, empowers others to step up, understand individual motivations, makes people feel as if their work is important and appreciated.
  9. Patience – Tolerant with people and process, sensitive to due process.
  10. Perseverance – Seldom gives up in the face of resistance.
  11. Perspective – Can see the big picture, and can articulate strategy and vision.
  12. Drive for Results – Very bottom line oriented, steadfastly pushes self and others.
  13. Development – Committed to actively improving self and team, a natural and curious learner, works to deploy strengths, works on compensating for weakness, enjoys receiving feedback.
  14. Managing Through Systems – Ability to design practices, processes and systems that work for others, comfortable letting others manage themselves.
  15. Building Effective Teams – Creates strong morale, fosters open dialogue, has team meetings, lets others be responsible, creates a feeling of belonging on the team.
  16. Manages Vision and Purpose – Communicates in a compelling fashion, is optimistic, speaks in terms of possibilities, can inspire and motivate the dental team.

How to hone these skills? Here’s a good start:

When the dentist hones strong leadership skills, the team does, too. When the entire team is inspired by the dentist’s vision, they are more apt to be ambassadors for the practice: helping with marketing efforts, singing the practice’s praises across town, and attracting high-quality patients by regularly asking for referrals.

Now, that’s marketing in motion!

[1] Source for leadership attributes: A Guide for Development and Coaching, by Michael M. Lombardo
[2] Source for attribute definitions: FYI Lominger Competncies, by People Biz, Inc.

When to Go to Plan B

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When Marketing Plan A doesn’t work for your practice, that doesn’t mean marketing does not work. It simply means that the marketing strategy you selected is not working for your practice right now.

When that happens, it’s critical to move to Plan B. I see too many practices neglect marketing altogether after one or more different “failed” approaches.

First, know that there’s no such thing as “failure” in marketing. Even if the strategy you chose didn’t translate into the exact number of new patients you needed, it likely gained you added exposure and increased the practice’s brand equity. Further, every “mistake” in business is a learning opportunity. At least now you know what doesn’t work for your practice.

Next, consider your options for Plan B:

Option 1. Do-It-Yourself. If you want more control, and prefer that your team create the marketing, this is the right option for you.

This is not to say that you, the dentist, should do your own marketing. In fact, that is highly discouraged. Hire an office manager or front office team member who has interest in marketing, and get that person trained on how to execute marketing for the practice.

Here are just a few marketing efforts that can very easily be handled by your team, with the right training:

  • Basic website development
  • Inspiring the team to regularly ask for referrals
  • Improving phone skills
  • Social media strategies
  • Search engine optimization
  • Internal marketing strategies

Seek out an expert that can provide step-by-step instructions and one-on-one sessions to you get the right tools and education to be successful.

Option 2. A la Carte. Perhaps you’ve been burned in the past, cash flow is not as strong as you would like or you’re wary to invest a great deal of money in a new plan. Or maybe you would like to take baby steps with a new provider to formulating the right marketing mix for your practice. If this sounds like you, then a la a carte is the best option.

These marketing efforts can be usually deployed individually to work incrementally toward your goals:

  • Custom website development
  • Online advertising (Google AdWords, Yelp Advertising, Facebook Advertising, etc.)
  • Direct mail
  • TV/Radio advertising

Look for a provider that offers market research and a marketing plan so that you are investing only in those tactics that are right for your practice, not wasting more money on trial-and-error marketing. Any reputable firm will start with research and report to you where your marketing dollars are best invested in order to reach your goals. Keep in mind that a la carte marketing results are typically not as strong as with integrated marketing. Which brings us to the third option…

Option 3. Integrated Marketing. Maybe, after your not-so-good experience, you are ready to nail marketing once and for all. Perhaps you prefer to outsource the marketing to an agency and focus the team exclusively on patient care. If either of these is the case, integrated marketing is the right choice.

Integrated marketing encompasses all that you need for marketing, and is highly strategic. An integrated dental marketing agency will complete market research (surveying patients, differentiation from competitors, etc.), develop a strategic marketing plan based upon their findings and deploy that marketing plan.

There are essentially 35 different marketing tactics that a dental practice could deploy, yet only a handful of those are right for the practice at any given time. A reputable integrated marketing agency will detail for you exactly how to determine and document which dental marketing tactics are right for you right now, as shown by the market research. Investing in integrated marketing means you will get the biggest bang out of every single marketing buck.

No matter what happens, never stop marketing. Marketing is the oxygen to your practice. With it, you keep a steady flow of new and happy patients loyal to your practice.

 

Why Your Website Should Be Responsive

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We have entered a mobile age, where more than half of local searches are performed on a mobile device, and 25% of American Internet users access the Internet via a mobile device only. [1] Because of this, it is absolutely imperative that your practice’s website be responsive.

When a website is responsive, it is coded to adapt to whatever screen size on which it is being viewed. That means that you only need to have one website for all devices, but it needs to have been recently developed in order to have that responsive feature and meet mobile-friendly standards.

The overall user experience of your mobile website is critical. If the user arrives to your mobile website and does not instantly see what they are looking for, or feels frustrated with the website as a whole, there is a 61% chance they will leave and likely visit your competitor’s website. On the other hand, if they arrive to your mobile website and have an instantaneously positive experience, there is a 67% chance they will use your services and/or schedule an appointment. [2]

If you engage with your target audience through a social media platform, then you must have a responsive website, as 55% of social media usage and consumption happens via a mobile device. [3]

Finally, by having a responsive website, it will automatically adapt to any and all future devices. Responsive design is based on screen size, not the device itself, so as new devices are created and used for web browsing, your website will resize itself accordingly and always be visually appealing and functional.

To test your website’s responsiveness, simply drag the browser’s corner inward, to make a smaller, narrower window. If the webpage images, text and contents all resize accordingly, it is responsive. If, when the window size decreases, some of the text or images disappear, the site is not responsive.

If you are concerned about your website’s mobile responsiveness, we are here to help. Click here to get a free website assessment and redevelopment estimate.

[1] http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/responsive-design-list
[2] https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/topics/create-better-mobile-user-experience.html
[3] http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Presentations-and-Whitepapers/2013/2013-Mobile-Future-in-Focus?cs_edgescape_cc=US

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?

Sources:
Define: Brand
What is a Brand, Anyway?