Far too many dental practices tackle marketing without first putting a plan or foundation in place. Online marketing solutions like Google AdWords and Facebook ads are available at one’s fingertips, making it tempting to wing it. “Get your ad on Google today,” the search giant encourages advertisers.
If only marketing were that simple.
The fact is that marketing is the resonant voice of the practice. That said, it’s unwise to go to market with an ill-researched, untested message and method.
Here are the top 10 mistakes to avoid:
- Experimenting without a hypothesis. Start by setting a goal. Expect well-executed marketing to produce measurable results such as an uptick in patients seen per month or in annual production. A quantifiable goal serves as a benchmark for clearly defining success.
- Doing what’s popular. Rather than throwing money at online marketing because it’s trendy, invest only in the marketing tactics that make most sense for the practice. This may mean investing in brand/awareness marketing, traditional marketing (print, television, radio, etc.) and/or internal/referral marketing. Survey loyal patients to uncover the media that attracted them, then focus on those tactics.
- Too many scientists in the lab. Stick to two to three key decision-makers who will be with you throughout the marketing process. Avoid crowdsourcing, which is gathering opinions from the masses, as this is more harmful than helpful in a strategic environment. Share marketing designs only after you have finalized them with the core team, but not while they are still under development.
- Going it alone. By contrast, a lack of collaboration can be equally detrimental. Let language from positive reviews and survey data from the happiest patients tell the practice story rather than trying to write it in a vacuum. This process will prevent you from getting too clinical in marketing communications.
- Lack of documentation. The foundation will erode – and fast – unless it’s articulated in writing. To start, write down the goal and budget. Once you identify the marketing tactics on which to concentrate, add those to the list. Document the names and contact information of all parties involved in the marketing, internal and external. Documentation will ensure focus.
- Re-experimenting too soon. Once you discover the marketing mix that seems best for the practice, test those tactics for a good six months before changing or adding tactics. It takes that long to tell if the experiment is working. Patience, patience, patience.
- Letting your own opinion rule. What patients think about the practice trumps what you think. Rely on their input to objectively build the look and feel of the marketing. As you proceed through the design and development of marketing tactics, suspend the urge to design with your favorites. Instead, use colors and images that resonate with favorite patients.
- Feature focusing. Turn your attention to benefits. Highlight what patients love most about you, not only technology or clinical expertise. In design and development, avoid using obvious objects like teeth and dental instruments. Experiment instead with objects that every person can relate to, your patients most importantly.
- Spending not investing. Be careful not to spend too much on marketing. If, after six months, any tactic is not producing a return on investment, nix it. Returns are not always in the form of dollars. Added exposure and awareness in front of the people who matter most can be a very healthy investment.
- Overthinking things. Now that you have a science behind marketing, there may be the tendency to overthink things. Set deadlines. Consider the idea that 90% done is done. Have a team member keep you accountable for finishing projects within a certain timeframe. And have fun!