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dental practice marketing

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What Dentists Must Know Before Spending Another Marketing Dollar

by Naomi Cooper June 9, 2014

What Dentists Must Know Before Spending Another Marketing DollarSome dentists think of marketing as though it is a magical faucet. They believe they should be able to implement a new tactic, snap their fingers and get magically get 100 new patients through the front door. The truth is that marketing is a real faucet, and the laws of physics apply in that you have to exert a force upon the faucet to start the flow. Three forces in particular will turn on the new patient flow, and they are three of your most valuable and limited resources: time, money & energy.

Before spending your precious time, money and energy on generating new patient flow through new external marketing campaigns, take a look at your existing new patient flow. What happens to  the prospective new patients who are already coming out of the proverbial marketing faucet by contacting the office by phone or email? Do you have a nice solid bucket under that faucet catching every drop? Or does it look more like a sieve, resulting in missed opportunities to capture new patients?

If there are missed opportunities, then you have what I like to call holes in the bucket. These are issues such as:

  • Scheduling issues, such as new patients not typically scheduled within 1-3 business days
  • Not knowing how many prospective new patient callers you already get each month

 
  • Front desk turning away new patients because of insurance or cost concerns







  • A lack of comprehensive treatment planning and case presentation skills





 
  • The hygienist not co-diagnosing







  • The patient coordinator failing to schedule recommended treatment
  • Lack of existing patient follow-up for both recall and reactivation

Maybe you are already getting enough new patient calls, but you have challenges that are preventing you from turning your new patients into patients of record. If any of the above is the case, you may not need to spend as much time, money and energy on external marketing as you think – rather, work on correcting these outstanding issues and get solid internal processes in place so that when you are ready to turn on the new patient flow faucet, you’ll be ready to catch every last drop.

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Dental Marketing: The All-Important First Phone Call

by Naomi Cooper May 21, 2014

Dental Marketing: The All-Important First Phone CallOften when consulting with my dentist clients, the focus is on attracting new patients, which of course is an important part of dental practice growth. But I caution my clients before they ever spend any money on external marketing efforts, they need to be absolutely sure they and their staff already have solid internal processes in place.

Simply put, the dollars spent to attract new patients through external marketing efforts can end up going to waste if effective marketing processes and strong verbal communication skills are not in place. After all, why go to all the trouble and expense to make the phone ring if the person answering the phone doesn’t have the ability to turn a caller into a patient?

Often a new patient’s first contact with the dentist and the practice is during the initial phone call to find out about the practice, and possibly to make an appointment. The front desk team needs to be able to effectively communicate with new patients and address all questions and concerns, as well as schedule appointments in a timely manner.

The first phone call is a critical time: the prospective patient is sizing the practice up, and this interaction needs to be handled delicately. So what can the front desk team do during the call to ensure success?

Find out in my most recent article published in Inside Dentistry: Growing the Dental Practice Through Patient Communication.

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Dental Practice Marketing: Managing Your Online Reputation

by Naomi Cooper April 23, 2014

Dental Practice Marketing: Managing Your Online ReputationThese days, patients are going online to conduct research when looking for a new dentist. According to a 2013 study by 1800dentist.com, 70% of respondents said that online dentist reviews are just as important as a dentist’s professional credentials.

Word of mouth marketing has been revolutionized. While it used to be a one-to-one communication model, online patient review sites have transformed word of mouth to a one-to-many model. Clearly, some of the most powerful tools a dentist can have are positive online reviews from existing patients. Sites such as Yelp, Google+ Local and Healthgrades are all popular with consumers looking to get a glimpse of the dentist before ever stepping foot through the practice’s front door.

Online patient reviews can be a double-edge sword, because with the good can also come the bad. Getting a negative review can be a scary prospect. And leaving your online reputation in the hands of a third party website can be difficult, as reported in a recent LA Times article. Stories like this, while not entirely common, are a real issue when it comes to online marketing and patient reviews. The business owner in the LA Times story is a jeweler, so it goes to show that it’s not only dentists having issues with their online reputation – it affects small business owners across all industries.

So what’s a dentist to do? Stay vigilant. Aim to collect 1-2 positive reviews per month for one year. In addition to being a reasonable goal for the dental team, it also has the benefit of being credible to patients researching you online. And while it is important to generate positive reviews online, it absolutely must be done in an authentic manner. Absolutely never hire any outside vendor to create fake testimonials. Patient reviews need to be just that – reviews from patients! The patient needs to post the testimonials themselves. You should not create a profile and post it for them, even if they have given you the most glowing recommendation.

When handled correctly and in a genuine manner, positive patient testimonials can go a long way in establishing a dentist’s online reputation.

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5 Steps to a Modern Dental Marketing Plan

by Naomi Cooper April 16, 2014

5 Steps to a Modern Dental Marketing PlanRecent data suggests that Americans are becoming increasingly reliant on the Internet when making purchasing decisions, and that includes finding a dentist.

There are countless ways of updating your dental marketing plan with modern tactics, and it can understandably be overwhelming when trying to figure out where to start. Don’t worry – you don’t have to do everything all at once. Incremental steps can make it easier to implement while keeping your budget in check.

Here are 5 ways to an increasingly modern dental marketing plan:

  1. Updating your practice website – Your website = the foundation of your online strategy.
  2. Playing the SEO gameIncrease your online visibility by making sure your website appears at or near the top of search engine results.
  3. Building social media profiles – Connect with your patients online by engaging on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and/or YouTube.
  4. Gathering patient testimonials – Ensure that potential patients get a positive first impression when they are researching your practice online.
  5. Blogging – Share the latest practice news and address frequently asked questions in order to stay in touch with patients year-round.

Taking the initiative now to update your marketing will keep you ahead of your competition as well as saving you from playing catch up later on.

Don’t forget – you don’t have to do this all on your own. Dental industry experts like Sesame Communcations and My Social Practice can help guide you in the right direction. And especially when it comes to website design and SEO, outsourcing is often your best bet. Updates to the search engine algorithms are frequent and can be confusing. Leave it to the professionals and get back to focusing on your main responsibility – your patients!

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Dental Practice Branding: 4 Steps to a Winning Online Strategy

by Naomi Cooper April 3, 2014

Dental Practice Branding: 4 Steps to a Winning Online StrategyIt is estimated that the average person sees 3,000 advertisements every day! Your patients need to be able to recognize your dental practice brand. If you’re not iconic, then all of the time, money and effort that went into the message is completely wasted. So, how do you make the most of your dental practice branding strategy? Keep it consistent, and this has never been more important than it is in today’s digital age.

It’s a good idea to take periodic inventory of your online marketing to make sure everything is up to date. In particular, these 4 digital components should work together to form a cohesive brand:

1) Practice Name: This one may sound obvious but it is not uncommon for me to find that a practice’s business cards read “Joe B. Smith, DMD” while its website uses the moniker “Smith Family Dentistry”. One name should be used across all marketing platforms, including your website and online profiles, in addition to your printed materials.

2) Social Media Profiles: It is ideal to set up your dental practice social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) profiles under the same name as the practice. It may seem more natural to set the profiles in the name of an individual dentist, but again, I recommend keeping everything consistent and using the practice name across all properties so that patients can find and connect with the practice as easily as possible.

3) Patient Review Sites: Word of mouth has shifted to the online atmosphere via sites such as Yelp!, Healthgrades.com and Google+ Local. What I find when consulting with my dentist clients is they do not always realize is that these sites often automatically create a profile for your business. It is up to you to log on and claim your practice’s profile on each of these sites, making sure your business name is correct and contact information is current. After you claim your profiles, encourage patients to share their positive experiences so that when prospective patients are doing their online research, they can get a complete picture of what your practice has to offer.

4) Practice Website: Along with having the same name across all online platforms, it is smart to link your online profiles to your website. The homepage of your practice website should include links to your social media profiles and your blog. Likewise, your profiles on social media and patient review sites should also link to your practice website.

Patients are online now more than ever. It’s up to you to make sure they can find you, and that when they do that you’ve made a good first impression. Remember, make it as simple as possible for patients to recognize your practice by name by keeping your branding consistent – online and offline!

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Social Media Marketing: Why the 80/20 Rule is Your Key to Success

by Naomi Cooper March 26, 2014

Social Media Marketing: Why the 80/20 Rule is Your Key to SuccessSocial media has taken the dental marketing industry by storm. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ give dentists countless opportunities to stay connected with patients like never before.

Check out these stats:

  • 72% of online adults were using social networking sites
  • 8 in 10 social media users in the US would rather connect with companies via social media than via corporate websites

Engagement is the name of the game when it comes to social media marketing for dentists and in order to build your followers and keep them connected long-term, a good rule of thumb is to abide by the 80/20 rule.

What is the 80/20 rule? 80% of the content you share should be of interest and value to your audience; 20% of your content can be about your practice.

Think of it in terms of a face-to-face conversation. Ever been in a conversation where the other person only talks about themselves the entire time? It’s annoying. It’s rude. And it’s extremely off-putting. I bet you couldn’t get out of the conversation fast enough.

The same idea can be applied to social media engagement. Think about your audience, and what interests them, and tailor your social media posts accordingly. Your patients will be much more likely to engage with you when you share content they find appealing, and you’ll be on your way to building a powerful social media presence.