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marketing on a budget

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Even the smallest business can start a marketing campaign.  Just start with the low and no-cost techniques like these:

10 Low Cost Techniques

Categories: Marketing Strategy

Is your patient marketing to you from the chair?

November 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Can you motivate a dentist with compliments?  This interesting theory is offered by author, Tyler Cowen, in his book, Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist.

The following is an excerpt from:  Economics for Humans: Tyler Cowen on Using Incentives for a Better Life; Published: December 06, 2007 in Knowledge@Wharton:

Knowlege@Wharton: In your book, you write that you try to motivate your dentist by complimenting her. Is a good rule of thumb, then, that when you want performance from people, whether they are your employees or your children or your boss, you should start out by praising them?

Cowen: It is a good rule of thumb. But in terms of dentists, the most important point is just to realize that you have to motivate them. They don’t treat all their patients the same way. They’re not always inspired. They’re not always equally careful to minimize pain. As patients or consumers of care, we tend to shy away from that thought, because we feel if we admit it to ourselves, we’ll get very nervous. But just by thinking about it at all, you’ll probably get better treatment.

Knowlege@Wharton: So you need to make yourself special to your dentist.

Cowen: Whatever you do, whether it’s chatting about a mutual hobby, bringing a Christmas gift or writing a thank-you card, you need to make yourself stand out in their emotional lives.

Categories: Marketing Strategy

Getting Started with Dental Marketing – Make a Plan

July 20, 2010 Leave a comment

A dental practice is, essentially,  a small business.  Each small business is different. The products and the services may be similar to those of the competition down the street, but each business owner has a different style and personality,  and their own unique goals.  Many will define their general goal as “success”, but everyone has their own personal definition of  “success”, so each business owner will have their own specific plan to achieve it.

Since every dental practice is at least a little different, no two will market themselves exactly the same.  That being said, there is no reason to completely “reinvent the wheel”.  Instead, it is best to use the successes of others to give yourself a head start.  Think of the marketing campaigns of the dental world as a supermarket of ideas.  Take the ones that fit, and put them in your cart.  Leave the ones that don’t work for you on the shelf. 

Start by defining your goals, and then design a plan to get there.  One thing most marketing campaign will have in common is the general goal of increasing revenue.  (Every rule has it’s exception, and sometimes a dentist will be satisfied with revenue, but would like to work less hours to make the same money.)  Revenue can be increased by using internal marketing to earn more from our existing patient base, and by employing external marketing to attract new patients.  Every mature practice should be doing both.

Readers Digest puts dramatic spin on yet another dentist article

April 19, 2010 1 comment

Why do Readers Digest articles about dentists always have to sound like they are exposing these big hidden secrets?  See:  http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/50-secrets-from-real-dentists-1281272/

Despite the dramatic headline, there’s not much to see here beyond brush and floss every day!

Categories: Marketing Strategy

What advertisers should know about the FTC guidelines on endorsements and testimonials –

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

In October of 2009, the Federal Trade Commission issued some new guidelines about Endorsements and Testimonials.  These FTC guidelines are sometimes misunderstood by radio stations and groups, leading them to unnecessarily add wordy and counterproductive disclaimers to the endorsements and testimonials of their on-air personalities.

Blanket application of disclaimers to all endorsements and testimonials is an overreaction to the guidelines.  If a material connection exists between an advertiser and an endorser, there is an obligation to disclose that material connection only where the audience would not reasonably expect that connection to exist.   You may be able to convince your station to change their policy by concentrating on the actual language of the FTC text.

If the endorsement is given in a context where the listener would reasonably expect the endorser to be compensated, the guidelines don’t rquire you to disclose because consumers can reasonably be expected to have taken that fact into consideration when deciding how much weight or credibility to give to the endorsement.  In short, you don’t have to tell them what they already know.

The text of the FTC press release announcing the guidelines is here:  http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm.

 The text of the actual FTC Guidelines is here:  http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf

Dental Websites – What You Need

February 3, 2010 5 comments

At the turn of the century, it was mostly the early-adopter dentists that were creating websites for their practices.  In 2010, most dentists have at least a token presence on the web, and some contemporary practice websites are extremely sophisticated, with elaborate strategies for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Most dentists are somewhere in the middle.  They have a website, but they rarely look at their site and don’t think much about it.  They do, however, have this vague notion in the back of their minds, this nagging feeling that they should be paying more attention to their internet presence.  They know that their website could be better; they’ve heard that others are generating a considerable amount of new patients from the web; they have some sense that people are using search engines to find dental services – they just aren’t sure what to do about it.

Dental practices need a website that does two things.  First, it must look decent and offer good information.  Second, it must also attract new patients.  If your website only does the former, and not the latter, then the other dentists in the community are probably eating your lunch.

Here’s what to do:  First, take a good look at your website to see if it an attractive and useful source of information.  If not, you will either need overhaul it or hire someone to build a new one.  For a nice-looking semi-customizable website, you should expect to pay about $2000-$3000 upfront to a company who has experience with dental practice sites.

Once you have a nice-looking site, with good information, you need to research how many patients you are currently generating from the web.  If you use call tracking numbers (which are cheap and simple to use – get them now!), look at how many calls are coming through your website phone line.  Your team should already be asking people  how they heard about the office.  Do people frequently mention the website?

If your web host provides you with analytics, look at the data, and pay special attention to  how people are finding you.  Are you getting much business through search engines?  Perform searches of your own, as if you were a prospective patient.  Google “(my town)dentist”, and see how close to the top your listing is.  Google a couple of other terms that are important to you, along with your location.  Try cosmetic dentist or implant dentist.   Are you in the top five?  Are you on the front page?  Are you even a blip on the radar screen?

If you don’t seem to be generating much business from the web, you should be a bit concerned.  Contact your web host/provider to see what you are supposed to be getting in terms of SEO.  Make sure you are getting what you pay for, and also ask them what supplemental SEO services they offer.

In very general terms, SEO is either paid or organic.  There are many positioning techniques for generating a high organic listing, using keywords, relevant activity, and inbound links, just to name a few.  Any website company worth its salt should at least be doing the basics.  For an additional monthly fee, many web companies will actively work on your SEO through a variety of techniques.  If your provider is unable or unwilling to offer much in this area, there are third party companies who will optimize your site even if they haven’t designed it and don’t host it.  Their techniques, prices and effectiveness widely vary.

SEO can also be directly bought through sponsored links and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.  You can do this directly through the search engines, like Google and Yahoo, or you can hire a third-party company to manage a sponsored link and/or PPC campaign for you.

A large segment of our population is increasingly relying on search engines to find the products and the services they need.   Make sure that you’re one of  the options they see when they are looking, and give them what they want once they get to your site.

Remember that marketing success is all about efficiency, and internet marketing is about as efficient as it gets.

Building a web site – what not to do

January 15, 2010 2 comments

This is a funny commentary on micro-managing projects we’ve assigned to others, in this case web site development.  We’ve all been this annoying client at one time or another.  The moral is – hire experts you trust, and let them do the job.

 http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell

Categories: Marketing Strategy