Internal Marketing


Personalizing Your E-Communication Strategies

by Naomi Cooper June 23, 2014

Personalizing Your E-Communication StrategiesI often hear from my dentist clients that they worry that they are losing “the personal touch” when automating their patient communication with e-communication tools like email and text message appointment reminders. Good customer service certainly requires personalization, but the reality is that technology can actually improve your patient communication.

Patient reminder systems like Sesame 24-7, DemandForce and Patient Activator save the practice time and energy by syncing with practice management software to automatically confirm appointments via email and text messaging. Many services can also help with other internal marketing tasks such as sending birthday cards, creating newsletters, promoting special offers, reaching out to dormant patients, or soliciting feedback and reviews. Using services like this can help reduce no-shows, shorten average recall times, build patient loyalty and even help boost case acceptance – and production.

Successful e-communication comes down to implementation. Maintain a personal touch by calling patients the first time you send the email appointment reminder to confirm they received the email and even offer to walk them through the confirmation process if needed. They’ll appreciate the convenience of email communication & the personal phone call shows you care enough to help them walk through the new process.

Also, be sure to give patients the ability to opt out of electronic communication. Some patients will never grow out of wanting a postcard reminder, but don’t assume that someone’s age necessarily determines their technology-savvy. The fastest growing group of Internet users today are 55 and older!

If you are still worried about losing that personal connection with patients, consider the time and expense involved every time you make ten appointment confirmation calls, mail out a batch of recall cards or create a newsletter. Using technology to automate these processes frees up the front desk to take part in truly personal communications like sending handwritten thank you notes to patients who refer, interacting with patients on social media and spending more time with patients and prospective patients both on the phone and face to face.

Patients not only want their dentist to be a “good dentist,” but also to be someone who truly cares. Utilizing e-communication tools makes consistent patient communication – with a personal touch – easier than ever before.


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.


Adopting the Marketing Mindset at Your Dental Practice

by Naomi Cooper February 18, 2014

Adopting the Marketing Mindset at Your Dental PracticeThe term “Marketing” is often associated with external advertising, or activities aimed at attracting new patients to the practice, and while this is certainly an important part of the marketing process, it doesn’t paint the entire picture. In fact, to start growing your practice, you may not have to look any further than your current patient base. When working with my clients, there’s a common piece of advice I always give: Don’t forget about internal marketing!

Internal marketing is the art of establishing relationships with current patients so that they decide to become ambassadors for your practice, referring friends and family to you. Internal marketing drives word of mouth and while it doesn’t cost a lot of money, it can pay off big time in the form of short-term practice viability and long-term sustainability.

I sometimes hear from my clients that asking their patients for referrals (or online reviews) can be intimidating or even uncomfortable. But when you have the right mindset – what I call the “Marketing Mindset” – asking for referrals and reviews becomes an easy and natural part of the day. And remember – while internal marketing isn’t difficult, it does require training on the parts of the doctors and staff. We all have to remember that verbal skills like asking patients for referrals do not necessarily come naturally, but need to be taught – and that just as with clinical skills, practice makes perfect!

With some practice, asking for referrals will no longer feel awkward or “sales-y”, but instead will become a habit…and a good habit, at that.


3 Strategies for Generating Online Patient Reviews for Your Dental Practice

by Naomi Cooper January 29, 2014

3 Strategies for Generating Online Patient Reviews for Your Dental PracticeIn today’s digital world, word of mouth has grown from a purely one-to-one communication to a one-to-many model by the increasing popularity of online patient review sites, where any of your patients can become a virtual billboard for your practice by writing a glowing review online. So remember, when a patient gives positive feedback verbally, it is the perfect opportunity to engage them and ask for an online review!

Encourage patients to post a positive review on your practice’s profile on sites such as Yelp, Google+ Local and Healthgrades.com, so that when potential patients are researching your practice online, they will see the satisfied experiences of your current patients.

To make internal marketing most effective, here are 3 “Must-Do’s”:

* Everyone in the practice should ideally be asking for referrals and online reviews every day. The experts at Pride Institute offer terrific training on internal marketing verbal skills for the entire team.

* Have a staff meeting to launch the internal marketing initiative and get everyone on board and committed to the plan.

* Implement a system to acknowledge and reward patients who refer new patients. The Viva Referral System is one solution that automates the referral acknowledgement system, making the internal marketing process easier to track.

Perhaps the most important element of any internal marketing program is consistency. Committing to the growing the practice through word of mouth is the best way to build momentum for the practice and creating patient ambassadors will continue to drive new patients through the front door for years to come.


Online Patient Reviews: A Yelp Lawsuit and What it Means to Your Dental Practice

by Naomi Cooper December 10, 2013

Online Patient Reviews: A Yelp Lawsuit and What it Means to Your Dental PracticeAccording to a recent report, consumer review site Yelp has been named in a lawsuit for allegedly controlling reviews based on whether a business has paid for advertising. In the report, a southern California dentist says that he was only able to remove negative reviews posted about him when he paid Yelp for advertising. Once he decided to quit the advertising, the negative reviews reappeared. Read more of the story here.

If true, this is particularly troubling for all small business owners with profiles on Yelp. However, at this point, it is still a pending matter and seems to be the exception, not the norm.

What many of my clients do not realize is that Yelp creates profiles for all businesses, even if the business owner does not create it. It is up to the business to claim their profile, updating it with the correct contact information, business hours, photos and description, and to monitor and respond to reviews as necessary.

A Yelp profile should be just one component of your online marketing strategy. Google+ Local is another consumer review site for patients to post reviews, along with Healthgrades, ZocDoc, or Angie’s List.

Yelp can be a powerful tool for building a strong online presence for your dental practice, and I often recommend my clients encourage their patients to post positive feedback on the site. This latest report is a good reminder to vary your online strategy so that you are not dependent on any one single site, and potential patients will have an easier time finding your practice website.


The Insurance-Free Dental Practice

by Naomi Cooper September 19, 2012

The Insurance-Free Dental PracticeWhile consulting with dentists across the country, one obstacle to practice growth I hear consistently is how to overcome patients’ objections to treatment. Either the patient’s insurance doesn’t cover the procedure, or the patient doesn’t have insurance at all and doesn’t want to pay out of pocket…regardless of the patients’ reasons, it can be frustrating as a health care provider to not be able to administer the top-notch care you know would be in your patients’ best interests because of financial barriers.

My colleague Dr. Dan Marut, DMD encountered the same issues while operating his dental practice. He founded Quality Dental Plan to help fellow doctors overcome these financial obstacles in their own practices. Check out our article The Insurance Free Dental Practice: Is it Fantasy or Reality to learn more about Quality Dental Plan, and how it might help reduce the insurance and financial hassles of the practice, leaving you the freedom to focus on what you do best – providing quality care for your patients.

Have you heard of Quality Dental Plan? Do you believe an insurance-free dental practice would benefit you? Please share your comments below.