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dental practice growth

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Branding Strategies for Dentists: Why It’s More Than Just Advertising

by Naomi Cooper April 16, 2013

Branding Strategies for Dentists: Why It’s More Than Just AdvertisingAs marketing guru John Jantsch says, branding is the art of being knowable, likeable and trustable. To be knowable, a dental practice has to be both visible and noteworthy; people have to know the practice exists, and as if that weren’t enough of a challenge, they also have to remember the practice’s name in their hour of need.

A dental practice’s brand is conveyed not only through traditional marketing tactics, but also by incidental and sometimes even accidental means; the way financial concerns are addressed over the phone, the tone in the receptionist’s voice when she greets a new patient, the way the doctor compliments the assistant, and even the first impression new patients have when they walk through the front door. Clinical skills, customer service, the carpet in the reception area, the greeting patients hear over the phone—each of these are part of the patient experience, and thus, the practice’s brand.

A practice’s brand communicates the distinctive combination of skills, personality, values and expertise that influence the way dentists practice—and how the community views them. Every practice is different, and every dentist has something exceptional to offer. Branding establishes a practice’s unique identity, ensures patient loyalty, and most importantly, has the potential to keep dentists in the driver’s seat when it comes to their reputations. Branding is about communicating a message—and dentists who employ a branding strategy will ensure their patients get the message loud and clear.

What is a brand? And why should dentists employ a branding strategy? Click here to read my recent article on the topic published in Dental Products Report.

Does your dental practice have a brand identity? How do you think potential patients, and your community, view your practice?

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Dental Practice Websites: Leveraging the Power of Mobile

by Naomi Cooper April 9, 2013

Dental Practice Websites: Leveraging the Power of MobilePicture this scenario – a new patient is on their way to your practice for their first appointment and needs the address. She uses her smartphone to pull up your practice website to find the info she is looking for. Question – will she be able to access your website from her phone?

With the wide appeal of smartphones, it is increasingly important for dentists’ websites to be optimized for use on smartphones and tablet devices. In fact, in 2012, Pew Internet research found that 31% of Americans used their cell phones to look for health and medical information online.

What makes a website mobile-friendly?

  • The mobile user is looking for specific information, and wants to find it quickly.
  • Existing patients might use their smartphone to find their dentist’s phone number to schedule a visit, or they might be looking for a way to request an appointment online.
  • On the other hand, a new patient may be looking for driving directions to the office.
  • A mobile website needs to be a streamlined version of the full-version website. The practice phone number, online appointing features, driving directions and patient testimonials all need to be part of the mobile website, making the information easy to find for the mobile user.

With the wide appeal of smartphones among dental patients—and prospective patients— it is increasingly important for dentists’ websites to be configured for use on smartphones. Your website should work as another marketing tool to drive patients to your practice.

Try viewing your practice website from a smartphone or tablet device – what comes up? As a patient, would you be satisfied?

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Cultivating Relationships: 6 Networking Tips for Dentists

by Naomi Cooper March 27, 2013

Cultivating Relationships: 6 Networking Tips for DentistsHere on the blog I often speak to the importance for dentists to engage in social media and online marketing. New modern tactics like these are essential for dentists to keep their marketing fresh and relevant. With that being said, a solid marketing plan includes a mix of new and old methods. And nothing can replace the value of professional networking.

Many dentists shy away from networking. Their reasons (ahem, excuses) range from not wanting to be too “sales-y” to simply not understanding the importance of networking.

No amount of advertising can replace face-to-face communication. Fostering relationships with fellow dentists, specialists, other healthcare providers and even other business owners is a way to market your practice and stay in touch with the local community.

Networking does not have to be cheesy or phony. Instead, approach networking as an opportunity to meet other business professionals with the same goal in mind – to grow their business.

Here are few ways for dentists to jumpstart their professional network:

  1. Start with the familiar. Be sure to be an active member of your college and dental school alumni associations. Re-establish relationships with your dental school mates. Even if they are not nearby, you never know where a referral may come from.
  2. Join, or re-engage, with professional associations. On the national level, check out the ADA website for any upcoming seminars or events. Be sure to look closer to home at state or local components.
  3. If there are not any local opportunities, create one of your own and bring together other like-minded healthcare professionals. Host a study club or a cross-specialty workshop for patients with other doctors, for instance a dermatologist or pediatrician.
  4. Include website addresses of your contacts within your practice website. Create a reciprocal page, “Our Medical Community”, with links to other websites of your contacts.
  5. Join your local Chamber of Commerce.
  6. Professional networking is now online. LinkedIn is the most popular site for professionals looking to increase their network. Facebook and Twitter are obviously ideal for engaging with patients, but to connect with other professionals Linkedin is your best bet.

In the end, if you are not talking about your practice, who will be? Operating a successful dental practice is not just about quality patient care. Meeting people and establishing professional relationships must be an element of your dental marketing plan.

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Sales: Overcome Your Fears and Grow Your Practice

by Naomi Cooper January 16, 2013

Sales: Overcome Your Fears and Grow Your PracticeSales. Does this word intimidate you? Dentists seem to have a love/hate relationship with the word and everything that goes along with it. On the one hand, sales are necessary in order to increase practice revenue, case acceptance and tighten recall, which are all positive characteristics of a successful dental practice. On the other hand, I’ve heard many of my clients say they feel that sales, or “selling”, is just for large corporations. Some dentists feel they shouldn’t have to engage in sales – that patients should come to them naturally.

Unfortunately, any aversion to the sales process is something that all dental practice owners must overcome. Sales doesn’t only have to do with getting new patients in the door. Good treatment planning, case acceptance and front desk verbal skills — and quality customer service — are key components of the sales process. Improving your communication techniques not only will help you sound like a more confident practitioner, but will also increase new patient flow and production in your practice.

One more thought. As a dentist, you are not looking to sell your patients some cheesy product that they will use once and throw away. You are informing the community that you are a skilled oral healthcare provider. When your patients are in your chair, you assist them in making better oral healthcare choices for themselves and their families. Approach the sales process as a conversation between you and your patients, and any intimidation or negative feelings should dissipate.

Here’s a great article from Joy Gendusa, Founder and CEO of PostcardMania, on how she views the skill of selling as an important life skill, not just a business skill.

How do you value sales in your dental practice? How did you overcome your fears of selling, and what effects did it have in your dental practice? Please share your opinions and experiences below.