Identify and Engage with Your Ideal Patients

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As a dentist, you see a variety of patients come through your doors. Some are price-shoppers, some don’t return for treatment, and some are what you would call, your ideal patient; they keep their appointments, they refer others to the practice, they pay on time, and you have great rapport with them. An ideal patient looks different for each practice. For example, some practices may desire more implant patients while others are looking for more families and general dentistry patients. Whatever your perfect patient may look like, it is essential to the growth of your practice to first identify this patient, and then determine how to market to them based upon their behaviors and preferences.

The first step is to identify. When you think of your favorite patients, what do they all have in common? Where do they live, work, and play? What do they do in their free time? Do they have a family? Are they dog-lovers? What kinds of cars do they drive? Do they need cosmetic work? Are they older, perhaps in need of implants or dentures? What kind of insurance do they have? Get as granular as you possibly can. Write it down. Create your practice’s wish list.

The next step is to identify real life patients that fit your criteria. Who do you get excited about when you see them on the schedule? Which patients are loyal, responsive, and pleasant to be around? If you are looking to book more high-ticket procedures, look to the recent high-ticket treatment plans you’ve completed. Generate a list of those ideal patients.

Help Me Find More of My Ideal Patients

Always keep your list top of mind. Nurture your list and nurture the patients on the list. Make sure your staff is aware of the definition of your ideal patient and treats them like gold. Reserve early morning or lunch appointments for them or send them a thank you card after they make a referral. Oftentimes, we find that referrals from ideal patients will generate more patients of that nature.

Don’t forget to ask them questions. It’s okay to be candid with your patients. Ask them, what brought you to the practice? What keeps you coming back? What is the best way for you to schedule appointments? Do you pay attention to any promotional materials? Jot down their answers and use these as low hanging fruits for how to target more patients similar to them. For example, if your excellent chair-side manner stands out as a top reason why patients love your practice, take note of that and make sure every single patient you see experiences it.

Lastly, keep them engaged. Make sure that you are keeping your practice top-of-mind for your ideal patients (both current and potential) through media they prefer most. For example, if your ideal patients came to you through your Facebook page, then keep posting on Facebook, engage with as many users as possible, and continue to grow your following. Really try to hone in on what your ideal patients find relevant.

You don’t have to do this alone. If you’re swamped with running a dental practice and caring for your patients, don’t panic. Big Buzz has worked with hundreds of practices and has surveyed thousands of their ideal patients. If you need assistance identifying ideal patients, asking them those top questions, and implementing a strategy based on real research, contact us today. We can help your unique practice to grow your perfect patient base. Get your free call now.

The Importance of Tracking New Patients to See ROI

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The most effective and consistent way to grow your practice is to track where your new patients are coming from. The facts that lead to trends are imperative to record, so that your practice’s production, revenue, and profitability are clear and in your control.

The key to effective marketing is two-fold: consistency and accurate tracking. Once you have determined what types of marketing resonates with your target audience and what channels they pay attention to, keep going. Radio commercials aren’t successful after airing for just one 30-second spot. Take your practice’s unique brand messaging and continually put it out to market, over and over again.

Once the marketing is deployed, it is imperative to tediously and religiously track where every single new patient is coming from. Implement systems and structures within your practice to ensure every single team member is on board, knows what questions to ask, and knows how the information is going to be documented. One simple way to document new patient sources is to do so when the patient schedules their appointment and to note it in their file. Additionally, keeping a running document of different patient sources will help you and your team to see trends as they grow and evolve over time.

If after one month, you see that the majority of your new patients are coming from referrals, it may be worth your time to boost and optimize your team’s internal referral strategy, as to capitalize on this already viable new patient source.

If after six months, you see that not a single new patient has come from the TV commercial you are running, it may be worth your while to reallocate that budget elsewhere, to a marketing tactic that is driving new patient traffic.

Watch these trends closely month over month. Soon, the question of what marketing tactics you should be running will become obsolete. Eventually, as tracking becomes second nature to your team, you will have much more time to sit back, relax, and watch your practice thrive, knowing you are investing in the tactics that really move the meter.

Big Buzz offers clients their own custom online marketing dashboard so they can clearly see marketing results, new patient numbers, production potential and ROI.

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Marketing is an Asset to the Practice

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The question of marketing valuation often surfaces when the dentist is ready to transition. However, it can be a worthwhile exercise to measure the marketing efforts as an asset to the practice, even when an acquisition or merger is not on the table.

Here is a sample valuation letter to illustrate this point:

December 2, 2016

To whom it may concern:

[Practice Name] has been working with Big Buzz to strategically market the practice in order to consistently attract 50-70 new patients per month to the practice. In order to reach and sustain that goal, we have been running an online advertising campaign. The following is an overview of that service, as well as total valuation:

Overview: Online Marketing Services: Google AdWords
Big Buzz has been delivering online marketing services in the form of Google AdWords, designed to attract the ideal target patient and convert them to quality and lasting patients. In 2016, the practice website saw an average of 441 sessions per month, and 78% of website traffic was from new visitors.

Valuation: Monies invested in online marketing with Big Buzz over the past 12 months total $16,500. The campaign is designed to attract 50-70 new patients to the practice each month. The practice has seen an average of 93 new patients per month over the past 12 months. The average value of a patient is $2,000 per year. Therefore, net of marketing is valuated at $2,215,500, or $2,232,000 in returns less the $16,500 investment.

Articulating a valuation like this one is a great way to objectively measure marketing. Any marketing efforts that are expenses are simply not working. Successful marketing efforts always produce a healthy return on investment.

Are your efforts producing healthy returns?

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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?

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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.

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