Connecting the Dots between Social Media and Social Networking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track Your Results in Real Time

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We often hear from dentists and teams that they have a hard time seeing where their marketing dollars are going, and if their marketing efforts are providing a return. Dentists don’t have clarity on the new patient inquiries coming into the practice, and dental teams don’t see how they are progressing towards annual production goals.

A personal online dashboard can help with all of that. Personal marketing dashboards accurately track results and allow all key players to see exactly how their marketing tactics are performing and where they are in terms of meeting the goal. This allows both your dental team and your marketing team to use actual data to make sound decisions about when to refine your marketing program, where to invest marketing dollars and how to get the very best results. Plus, your personal marketing dashboard updates in real time, meaning you can check the status of your marketing success 24/7, 365.

What should your team be measuring to make sure they’re on the right track with marketing?

  • Revenue and production goals
  • New patients per month
  • Online advertising results
  • Online forms submitted
  • Website visits
  • Top keywords
  • Calls from direct mail
  • Social media statistics

Utilizing a custom dashboard to see how your marketing efforts impact your new patient numbers and move you towards your production goals can make or break your marketing plan’s success. Interested in learning more?

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How to Impact Your Team and the Dental Industry

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You are more than just a dentist. Your thoughts, your work, and your insights have ripple effects on your team, your community, and the dental industry on the whole. Here are five ways to positively impact everyone in your sphere of influence.

  1. Hire the best of the best. The very best dental team members attract and retain your patients, and thereby bring in more production to the practice. Beyond that, they are great to work with, which means you are more fulfilled. And when you have the production and fulfillment that you want, you are more able to have a positive impact on the world around you.
  2. Implement a rewards and incentives program. Even the very best employees get sidelined without clarity, direction, and incentive. Articulate your vision for the practice in writing and share it with the team. Help them develop individual action plans for helping the practice reach its goals. Work with each of them to develop clear benchmarks for success. (They will be different for each role.) Finally, show them what they will get when they reach and exceed those benchmarks. The rewards could be bonuses, gift cards, time off, etc. Once the action is tied to an outcome that directly impacts them, watch production and engagement soar!
  3. Learn and teach leadership. Read texts such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Think and Grow Rich and The Power of Positive Thinking. Immerse yourself in podcasts and videos to learn leadership skills such as proactivity, openness, willingness, big-picture thinking and inspiring others. Get into coaching with one of the masters at Fortune Management. (We don’t get anything for recommending them; we just love them.) When you truly learn leadership skills, you can then teach them to the dental team. A whole practice full of leaders is a high-impact practice!
  4. Become known for one thing. Maybe you want to be the implant dentist in your market. Or the go-to cosmetic dentist. Or the sleep apnea expert. Fine-tune your marketing strategy to attract just the right patient to your practice. Take it a step further by developing podcasts, videos, and lectures on your area of expertise.
  5. Back a cause. One dentist that we know started a dental clinic in Africa. Another sits on the board of Kids in Need of Dentistry. Another rehabilitates the mouths of recovering methamphetamine addicts. Find the one corner of the world that you wish was better and explore how you can get involved to inspire change.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

 

 

 

Win The Battle For New Patients

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Here’s a dirty little secret about dentists… the majority of them figure that if they just throw enough dollars at what’s hot in marketing, they will get ahead of the competition in the battle for new patients.

They are dead wrong.

The name of the marketing game is not to attract new patients. The goal is to attract your ideal new patients: those who pay on time, accept treatment, welcome your dental benefits policies and refer family and friends.

The right marketing solution is not that shiny new approach that the last sales rep called to promote. It’s a strategic marketing plan: the exact mix of everything possible in marketing expertly whittled down to precisely what is right for your practice right now.

And that strategic marketing plan is not an expense. It is an investment: it works on the practice’s behalf to more than pay for itself.

It’s a plan that cuts off “price shopper” patients at the pass before they waste your time and resources.

It’s a plan that honors potential patients and makes clear to them that they will feel right at home at your practice – even before they cross the threshold.

It’s a plan that attracts patients from miles away who are willing to pay fee-for-service and who respect you as the expert that you are.

It’s a plan that has the right patients flocking in the door on a regular basis.

It’s a plan that will make the competition obsolete.

More than all of that, it’s a plan that makes your practice more prominent and more profitable than ever before.

Your peers may not know that there are 50 possible marketing tactics that practices use to attract patients. They may be narrowly focused on only a few that they are trying on a darts-in-the-dark basis.

Many don’t know that there is a simple and quick way to strategically define which of the 50 possible marketing tactics will make their practices soar.

But dentists nationwide are making use of just such a strategy.

Want one?

Yes! I want a complimentary initial marketing strategy!

Keep Patients from Leaking Out the Back Door

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The name of the game for a successful dental practice is to attract and keep your ideal patients. Patients leaking out the back door can be just as detrimental, if not more, than not driving enough new patient traffic to the practice.

Keeping your ideal patients is all about building relationships, staying top-of-mind, and making it as easy as possible for them to schedule and show up for their next appointment.

Build Relationships

From the moment an established patient walks into the practice, they should feel welcomed and remembered. Even the tiniest gesture can make a world of difference. A simple, “How was your vacation?” or “How is your daughter doing?” allows the patient to feel special, valued, and at ease.

Additionally, the importance and value of the patient’s treatment should be communicated every step of the way. If they are clear on their treatment plan and the necessary steps to achieve and maintain optimum oral health, and all of their concerns have been addressed, returning for their follow-up appointments will be a no-brainer.

Stay Top-of-Mind

Keep patients engaged and reminded of your practice in between their appointments. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as posting practice updates and photos on social media or sending educational emails each month.

Engaging with your practice’s community via social media is extremely cost-effective and easy to manage. Share practice updates, celebrations, patient milestones (with the patient’s consent), updated hours, etc., so that the practice is always top-of-mind for patients.

Educational email campaigns are also a great way to keep in touch with patients. Producing insightful (not promotional) content will position you as the expert and keep you front-and-center for patients as their go-to dental resource. A simple once monthly email with valuable, relevant content (easing financial concerns around implants, the difference between crowns and bridges, which type of tooth whitening will work best, etc.) will allow you to educate your patients and stay in touch with them in a meaningful way.

Make Appointment Scheduling Easy and Effortless

Each time a patient visits your office, schedule their six-month follow-up appointment, right then and there. Very rarely does anyone know what they are doing six months from now, and sifting through one’s calendar can be a hassle. Schedule the appointment six months out, at the same time of day as the appointment they just had, and let them know that if they need to reschedule they can always do so at a date closer to the appointment.

Send email and text reminders and call to confirm the appointment as the date approaches. If they specify a preferred method of communication, stick to that. Follow up one month, one week, and one day before to confirm the appointment. That way, the pressure is off the patient, essentially creating a “How can I not show up for this appointment?” situation.

Attracting and keeping your ideal patients doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Develop meaningful relationships with your patients, establish rapport, and make coming to the dentist as easy, welcoming and comforting as possible. Do so and your practice will continue to thrive.

Year End 2017 Starts Now

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You have a big production goal for 2017, and getting to that goal starts today.

 Your competitors are still in a holiday-induced fog. They might start thinking about their goals when the taxman comes knocking in April.

Not you.

You have decided to hit and exceed your goal this year, and you are ready to take any and all action to get there. That single decision means more patients, faster than ever before!

To help kick things off, get your free social media team training kit and initial marketing plan from the dental marketing experts at Big Buzz. Simply click the button below, fill out the short form and we will get in touch by phone to jumpstart your brand new year with you.

Yes! Get my Marketing Materials!

7 Tips to Carry You Through 2017 Worry Free

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Production concerns keeping you up at night?

Every practice owner has been there: awake at 2 a.m. with the cold sweats, sure that the practice’s production is so far down the tubes that personal bankruptcy is imminent. Here are seven tips to reframe and right the situation to ensure a productive and profitable 2017:

1. Take stock. F.E.A.R. stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. The mind can play real tricks when it comes to finances. Print four financial reports for the ultimate clarity: profit and loss (accrual basis), balance sheet, accounts receivable and accounts payable. The profit and loss (accrual basis) will show you any upcoming cases, or income, that will soon be in the bank. The balance sheet will show what you have in the bank and what you owe, which will allow you to calculate what remaining assets and/or credit may exist to float you through a rough patch. The accounts receivable will detail any past-due collections. Call those patients now and get a credit card over the phone. The accounts payable will show any bills that you owe. Call those vendors now and arrange for longer terms. All four of these reports together paint a picture of exactly where you are now. Armed with this information, you have the opportunity to pivot.

2. Think big. If the reports confirm your concerns, the next step, contrary to what your mind will tell you, is to think big. What is your dream production goal? Document it and decide to achieve it. In 1937, Napoleon Hill wrote “Think and Grow Rich” and he reminds readers that wanting is not enough. Now is the time to decide to achieve your dream goal and to eliminate all other possibilities. This single step is critical in getting back on track – and soaring upward from there. The only way the team, your vendors and you can improve this situation is for you to firmly decide exactly where you are going next.

3. Scale back… strategically. The key word here is strategicallyand I might add temporarily. The knee-jerk reaction is to cut costs, at all costs. Don’t cut anything that is making you money, such as the team, employee pay, employee benefits or the marketing budget. All of those are investments, and they keep the practice running and production dollars arriving every day. Instead, renegotiate payment terms with suppliers, labs, and other vendors. Call your marketer, share the facts and your goal and ask them to provide a new marketing strategy to get you there.

4. Rally the troops. In wartime, generals have pep talks with the soldiers before asking them to fight harder. It’s one of the toughest things to do as a leader: maintain a strong exterior when you feel depleted on the inside. Don’t go it alone. Huddle with your marketers to develop communications to share with the team about the state of the practice and your goals, and learn ways to inspire the team to take action. Set benchmarks toward completion of the goal, assign tasks to individual team members and make it clear how they will be rewarded when they reach the goal. Your positive approach will be the clincher.

5. Refinance. If you have existing practice debt, contact a lender that specializes in dental practice finance. Wells Fargo and MedTrust Capital are two of our favorites for their creativity and true understanding of small businesses. Explore with the lender of your choice options for refinancing. Savings of 2% on a $100,000 loan adds up to $2,000, and right now, every penny counts.

6. Reduce your lease payment. Work with a reputable dental realty company like Carr Healthcare Realty to negotiate a better lease rate. A simple meeting with your landlord and the right broker can yield hundreds or even thousands in savings. By doing this, one dentist saved $15 per square-foot in a 3,000-square-foot practice. That’s over $3,700 per month!

7. Surround yourself with success. Stop listening to the naysayers. If you have a Nervous Nellie on the dental team, invite that person to seek fulfilling employment elsewhere. If you have a Debbie Downer in your family, kindly ask them to keep their negative thoughts to themselves. Seek out peers, mentors, consultants and/or business coaches who will believe in you, lift you up and even help you get to your goal. You know what they say about birds of a feather. Flock with the sort that flies high!

Put your production worries behind you once and for all. Get a complimentary marketing plan that will ensure long-term success.

 

Tips for Starting Your 2017 Marketing Off Right

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I’m sure you’re ready for 2017 to be your practice’s best year yet. 2016 is ending on a high note, and you want to end 2017 even higher. The best way to ensure you’re starting 2017 on the right foot is to set the stage for January 1st, setting a solid foundation for all of your 2017 goals to become reality.

Design your budget with realistic, yet successful goals in mind. Review your 2016 as specifically as possible, ensuring that there are enough resources to accomplish your goals. Consider for your staff, equipment, rent, travel expenses, etc. Big dreams = big budget.

Think back about your ideal patient. Is the ideal patient profile you once envisioned still your ideal patient? Throughout 2016, who made the highest-quality patient? What type of patient will help you reach your 2017 goals? Get as granular as you can: demographic, gender, age, insurance coverage, etc. Evolve your mindset (and your dental team’s) around attracting as many of these ideal patients as possible in 2017.

What makes you and your practice different? Why do those ideal patients return to your practice? Why do they refer to your practice? Make sure that you and your team are clear on what makes you different from (and better than) your competitors, and how you can continue to effectively portray that to those prospective patients. What makes you different is why they will love you.

Review and update your 2017 marketing strategy. Are all of your marketing materials – from signage, to phone greetings, to waiting room décor, to digital marketing, to brochures and beyond – designed and catered to attracting your ideal patient? Every single aspect of your practice can (and should) be used as an effective marketing tool to attract your ideal patient to your door, have them return, and encourage them to refer to you.

To ensure success and growth, it is imperative to track your progress and evolve your strategy accordingly. Hold your team accountable, schedule regular meetings to track progress, and inspire everyone to work toward the same end goal.

Let Big Buzz support you in kicking off your 2017 marketing! Call 720-350-4484 today for more information.

Google’s New Review Feature: How Does It Impact Dentists?

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A recent Google update directly impacts dentists and their practices. Google now incorporates “Reviews from the web” in their knowledge panel for businesses, including dental practices.

The knowledge panel is a box of information that appears on the right-hand side of Google search results. It contains information relevant to your business and services that is pulled from your Google My Business account and other third party sources.

Previously, only Google reviews appeared in the knowledge panel. With this update, Google will be filtering reviews from a variety of websites, such as Facebook, Healthgrades, PracticeMojo, and others.

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This update directly impacts dentists, as smaller and more niche review sites will gain more visibility across Google. This opens a great opportunity for dentists to further refine, manage and evolve their online reputations. It is possible that there are online profiles for your practice that you are entirely unaware of.

Stay on top of your online reputation and online reviews by searching for your practice on Google, to first see if it has started pulling third party reviews for your practice. Go through the search results for your online profiles and websites that may already house reviews for your practice. If you want to take your online review management to the next level, there are several reputation management systems available that will automatically pull and filter your online reviews.

Now is the time to promote collecting as many positive reviews as possible on each of the platforms that come up for your practice, as opposed to just Google or Yelp. Each positive review will help to dilute any negative reviews and build your overall positive reputation.