How to "no" your way to dental marketing success

October 8, 2015
Naomi Cooper
Naomi Cooper

Naomi Cooper is President of Minoa Marketing and CEO and co-founder of Doctor Distillery. Naomi is a respected dental marketing executive, strategist, consultant, author, speaker and industry opinion leader. With over 16 years in the dental industry, she has helped leading companies across the dental industry consistently create tangible results for their marketing efforts aimed at the dental professional. Naomi also blogs regularly at www.minoamarketing.com. For more information about Doctor Distillery, email naomi@doctordistillery.com or visit www.doctordistillery.com.

Remember the Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man? In it, Carrey’s character is challenged to say “yes” to everything that he’s presented with. Of course, embellishments abound, craziness ensues and he ultimately realizes the value of the word “no.” While this may just be the plot of a fictional Hollywood movie, there’s a lesson here for dentists: Don’t say yes to every opportunity, especially when it comes to dental marketing.

Remember the Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man? In it, Carrey’s character is challenged to say “yes” to everything that he’s presented with. Of course, embellishments abound, craziness ensues and he ultimately realizes the value of the word “no.” While this may just be the plot of a fictional Hollywood movie, there’s a lesson here for dentists: Don’t say yes to every opportunity, especially when it comes to dental marketing.

In my lecturing and consulting, I find that it’s not uncommon for a dental office’s front desk staff to field 20-30 calls per week from a variety of salespeople promising to push a flood of new patients through the practice’s front door. The problem is that marketing doesn’t often produce instantaneous results, causing frustration on the part of the dentist – and the front desk – when yet another new marketing activity is quickly deemed a failure.

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This is an all-too-common scenario when there’s no marketing plan in place; without a strategy, every marketing decision is made in a vacuum of time and information – and is much more likely to sound like a good idea in the moment than when it’s analyzed under the microscope of an annual budgeting process.

The reality is that marketing must be customized to the practice’s needs, and that even the most successful tactics overall won’t work for every dental practice every time. So before spending any more of your hard-earned marketing dollars, embrace the power of NO and commit to not signing any new contracts until an annual marketing budget and plan are set.  And as another year winds down, now is the perfect time to develop a dental marketing plan for 2016.

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Continue to the next page to see the five steps to help any dentist begin crafting their customized strategy.

 

 

Identify goals

It’s hard to devise a strategy without a clear vision of what the end result is supposed to be. What is the ideal outcome of the marketing activities? If the goal is to increase new patient flow, then an external marketing plan will be the focus. If increased treatment acceptance is the goal, then an internal marketing strategy will be more appropriate. Identifying the main objective from the very beginning will help get the plan off to a most productive start.

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Involve the team

When asked if they have a marketing team at their office, most dentists will answer no. What they’re failing to realize is that their entire team is the marketing department! Every staff person who interacts with patients is a representative of the dental office and has an impact on the patient experience. When implementing a new marketing plan, it is critical to keep the office team in the loop. Share your new patient and revenue goals as well as the details of the marketing tactics you’ve selected to support those goals. Then explain how each team member will be expected to individually contribute to the overall success.

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Set a budget

Setting an annual marketing budget isn’t always an easy task but it’s an absolutely necessary step when building a strategy. There’s a finite amount of money available to devote to generating an awareness campaign. While a salesperson may make it sound like their offering (which is naturally available at a special price this week only) will exponentially increase awareness for a dentist’s office, it’s not likely that this is true each time you hear that same pitch. This is when having a pre-determined budget will really help a dentist prioritize which initiatives are most worthy of those dollars. . When creating the budget, remember that best practices indicate spending three to five percent of gross annual production in a typical year and six to eight percent every third or fourth year, when marketing infrastructure (branding, website, etc.) likely needs a major upgrade.

 

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Choose tactics wisely

It’s important to implement marketing tactics that fit within the budget. Just because it’s something you could do doesn’t mean that it’s something you should do! Focus on tactics that enable you to reach your target patient profile. For instance, according to the Christian Science Monitor, 90 percent of moms with children under 18 are online in 2015. This means that a dental office looking to reach soccer moms should likely focus more of their marketing efforts online rather than on traditional offline tactics.

Also, it’s important to consider the seasonality of marketing campaigns. Picking activities that reach patients during the times of year when they are most likely to seek dental care (beginning of the year, back to school time) might yield a higher response than times when dental care is less of a focus, such as around the hectic holiday season.

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Track results

A well-designed marketing plan should be fluid and able to accommodate changes when needed. But it’s hard to determine which marketing campaigns are working if no one is tracking the response and reviewing the return on investment, or ROI. When developing a marketing plan, set aside time going forward to review the progress of the individual activities with your vendors and to ensure that there is a method in place to measure the ROI in order to determine which are worthy of devoting more time and money to, and which should be jettisoned.

The beauty of the modern marketing world is that it is highly trackable and always on. There is no longer a need to sign a contract and hope for the best. Measurements of success, such as website traffic or cost per click, are immediately available, allowing dental teams to track their ROI and make decisions in real time. Remember that choosing to say NO to new promotional efforts until you have set realistic goals, assessed budgetary feasibility and created a customized marketing plan will ensure that you have a better grip on your marketing expenditures and results.  This in turn will give you the freedom to say YES to new opportunities for future practice success.