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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.

What every practice needs in a web site

March 4, 2008 Leave a comment

Two types of people visit web sites.  Good web site design and support is necessary to generate return on investment (ROI) from both types. Shoppers use search engines, like Google, MSN and Yahoo to find providers for the goods and services they need.  A shopper goes to Google.com, and enters the words, “sedation dentist, Akron”.  The web sites that show up prominently on the results page have the best chance to be seen by that shopper.  Search Engine Optimization positions your site to be noticed, and drives shoppers to your site instead of your competitor’s.  

Investigators already know your web address, and have entered it manually to view your site and find out more about you.  They learned the address through your internal or external marketing.  Whether it was on your business card, stationary, yellow pages ad, billboard, or TV commercial, the investigator remembered it and typed it into the web browser to gather more information.  An attractive, informative, and user-friendly web site turns investigators into customers. 

Since web sites are marketing devices, you must approach their design and execution from the patient’s point of view, not your own.  This is the first lesson in marketing – concentrate on benefits instead of features.  Why spend your time and energy, and the prospective patient’s limited attention span, on announcing your new CEREC brand CAD/CAM technology, when all the patient wants to know is that he can get his work done in fewer appointments?  He really couldn’t care less what your machine is called.  Concentrate on the things that matter to him, not things you think are important.  

Use the features/benefits analysis to help you decide what your web site should look like and what content it needs.  Try to picture who will be looking at your web site, and design the site to transition these people, whether they initially started as investigators or shoppers, into patients.  

A good web site therefore, needs to do two things:  it must generate shopper traffic, and it also must educate investigators with an attractive, user-friendly design that gives them the information they are looking for.  Web site providers that execute both of these tasks at an efficient price offer some of the best ROI available.        

You need a logo – but it doesn’t have to be fancy

March 4, 2008 Leave a comment

Your practice does need a logo, but it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.  It can be as simple as a consistent way of printing your practice name.  But you should seriously consider hiring a professional to create a logo for you since it can be a relatively inexpensive investment.  Many graphic artists will produce an original logo for $500 or less.  (See some we’ve created here.)  That’s a small price to pay to get the look you want.  Whether you keep it basic or not, the key is consistency.  Use the same exact look every time.  Put your logo on your business card, stationary, web site, yellow pages ad, office sign and e-mail signature.

Where to start – identify your brand

February 27, 2008 Leave a comment

Begin by taking some inventory.  Ask the most basic questions.  Who are you?  What do you stand for?  What makes your practice different from the rest? When someone hears your name or drives past your office and sees your sign, what comes to their mind?  The answers to these questions are the basic elements of your brand. 

Some think that branding is only for national and international companies, like Starbucks or Google, and not for a quintessential small business like a dental practice.  Those people misunderstand what a brand really is.  Your brand is what people think of you.  So like it or not, you have a brand.  You may not like your brand, and it may not be a strong brand, but it’s still yours.  

Think about the brands that you know.  What images and feelings and expectations are evoked when you see certain logos or hear familiar names?  Here’s some strong brands:  Honda, Apple, Harley Davidson, McDonalds, Oprah.  They’re strong because they evoke a positive image in their target market.  Whether or not you like and buy what they are selling, you know what they stand for.  

Maybe you are “the sedation dentist” or “the nice dentist” or “the dentist with the cool office”.  Then again, maybe you were shooting for “the best dentist in town” but are really perceived as “the expensive dentist”.  In that case, your brand needs some work.  If your brand is not what you want it to be, there is hope.  To some extent, you are who you say you are.  If you reinforce your message again and again it will begin to sink in.  But you need to deliver on your promises.  If you want the community to buy into your brand, you have to have some steak to go with the sizzle.