In science, evolution refers to what happens when organisms change over time as a result of alterations in genetic traits. As organisms’ surroundings change, so do their physical and behavioral attributes, so as to adapt.
In dentistry, the dentist must also change and adapt to the market.
Marketing is an evolutionary process.
Over the last nine years, I have consulted with hundreds of dental practices. One comes to mind as a highly evolved dental practice.
I first met Dr. Jim Kearney in 2011 after I lectured in front of his study club. He knew he had to better market his practice, Austin Bluffs Dental, but he was feeling disenchanted with the marketing providers he had worked with in the past. He had shelled out thousands of marketing dollars and realized very little return on investment, which eventually caused him to scale back his marketing efforts in hopes of protecting himself. Instead, as a result, his patient numbers slowed to a trickle.
This is customary in the natural wild. The hunter is hunted, and retracts for survival. Yet he must return to hunting in order to survive. He must change and adapt.
Kearney did just that, restarting smaller than before. He set aside a few hundred dollars each month to invest into inexpensive direct marketing tactics such as online marketing.
Over a few months, his patient numbers began a slow, steady rise. It would be a rise that he would sustain for years to come.
Once Kearney attracted enough patient traffic to bank a modest surplus in production, he made another calculated move by investing more into marketing. Namely, he had his five-year-old website redesigned and added a referral marketing strategy to the mix. In adding these marketing efforts to his foundation of search engine optimization and online advertising, he saw his patient numbers and production rise even further.
Most recently, Kearney has added direct mail and Facebook advertising to his marketing strategy. He is now meeting his new patient and production goals, all because he continued to grow and adapt.
The entire process was a five-year evolution. Some practices prefer to make a similar evolution in a much shorter timeframe: even three months, six months, or one year. As long as the practice evolves with the marketplace, the end goal will be achieved.
The moral of the story is that you don’t have to go after the elephant right out of the gate. Start your marketing hunt small, and build as you go. But start!
Wendy O’Donovan Phillips is president of Big Buzz, the only full-service dental marketing firm in the nation. Her book, KABOOM!: The Method Used By Top Dentists for Explosive Marketing Results helps dentists build thriving practices with marketing backed by strategy. The American Marketing Association has awarded her for excellence in her industry, and she is currently acting as an expert marketing consultant to the American Dental Association. She lectures in front of dental associations, societies and study clubs nationwide.