Marketing Thoughts for 2014
I want to take a quick, rapid-fire approach to some ideas about marketing. On October 18 and 19, I will be presenting a comprehensive overview of marketing that will insure an unlimited number of new patients for your practice. In preparing for the eight hours of presentation I was struck by a number of facts that should give you pause and, perhaps, just perhaps entice you to come and see and hear the secrets of a Super General Dental Practice when it comes to marketing.
Fifteen to twenty years ago, nearly 100% of most dental practices marketing budgets were for yellow pages ads only. Today we are seeing a lot of offices whose marketing budgets are practically 100% electronic media (website, Facebook, Twitter, SEO for Google and other search engines). Neither of these strategies are a good approach.
Many of the marketing companies are selling “branding” strategies that just don’t work, are too expensive, take too long, and stress procedures that most people near your offices don’t want or need. On the other hand “direct response marketing” can target demographic groups, services, and income groups by offering something that elicits a call. This call or direct response to your message is the link to an unlimited supply of new patients. Many offices back in the 90’s saw dramatic growth utilizing direct response marketing. With the advent of more and more people selling internet marketing, we have seen this area decreasing, not because it doesn’t work, but because they want to sell the next greatest thing to an unknowing audience: The Dentist.
We are seeing electronic messaging reaching a saturation point, with many posts, tweets, emails, and text messages going unopened and/or unread. Think about the TV commercials for banks where they brag that you will get a “real person on the other end of the line when you call”. There is change in the air. With far less standard mail arriving in most people’s mailboxes, we are seeing that well designed direct mail marketing will stand a better chance of being seen and read and acted upon.
We need to picture our marketing strategy as a multitude of small streams that flow into a river, and eventually form a much more powerful flow than any one of the smaller tributaries. We shouldn’t put all of our eggs in one basket. Instead of looking to one marketing vehicle to supply you with 30 additional new patients per month, look at 10 different marketing vehicles across a wider demographic to produce several patients from each source. One big difference between your practice website and direct mail is that someone must be actively considering a dental appointment to sit down in front of their computer, tablet, or smartphone and actively search for a dentist. With direct mail, TV, Radio, Billboards, etc., the prospective patient will see your message and be reminded that they have been meaning to make an appointment or that they should be seeing a dentist regularly.
You should be sure that your website URL is prominently displayed on any marketing that you employ because many people will go to your website to “check you out” AFTER seeing your offer via direct mail or other methods. Few patients will find you if you are not one of the top three dentists listed for your city if you don’t drive them toward a specific web site. It is still almost impossible to target specific demographic groups with just electronic media. On the other hand, defining exactly whom you want to send a direct mail item to is easier and more sophisticated than ever. Using direct mail postcards utilizing defined demographics and great offers allow you to hit a much larger number of households. One of the best places to start with direct mail is to go after “new movers” in your draw area. Hit them 3 times or more with a powerful offer and message while removing the barriers to consumerism and you have a can’t miss strategy for attracting as many patients as you want.
I want to make sure that each and every one of you has a front seat to our newest Marketing Seminar on October 18 and 19. We will cover every internal and external marketing trick that helped me build a 250 new patient a month practice. It will be the quintessential primer for creating the patient flow for a Super General Dental Practice. Go to www.GreatDentalMarketingSummit.com and register today. I look forward to speaking with you about your specific challenges in attracting the patients you need to take your practice to the next level.
Michael Abernathy, DDS