Marketing has gotten more difficult and less certain as consumers have reached a point of numbness. More and more marketing tends to dull our senses while at the same time making all marketed decisions seem less time sensitive. I want to take a moment and go over a tried and true strategy to insure a constant flow of new bodies into your practice. If you are keeping a file, make sure you consider this a monthly lifetime strategy that will evolve as far as content but stay the same as far as frequency. Consider this a “Marketing Drip” (repeated small marketing outflow that tends to quietly and consistently give our potential patients more and more reasons to call us) that provides your office with 10 or more new patients month in and month out. It would be the second strategy I would use behind effective signage for basic can’t miss marketing with a good ROI and a low cost start up. The neat thing about “dripping” on a person or family that just moved in is that they know nothing about you. If, in the past, you had some bad habits that have lowered your ability to attract patients, it is unknown to these folks. It’s like you get a do over. They don’t know you used to charge too much, tried to sell folks stuff that they didn’t want, always ran late, and hurt people. You get a fresh slate, so don’t mess this up. If you are not getting over 30 new patients a month, and even this number is too low, then you are actually doing so many things wrong that people are fleeing from your practice.
Before we start, I want you to do a little prep work. We need to gather some information prior to actually designing the marketing outreach for “new movers” who would be new potential clients moving into the areas we most often get patients from.
1. If you want to do this yourself, call KM Lists (800-635-5833). Ask for Pam Holden. This is a list broker who can sell you the names and addresses of families moving into your area.
2. If you want it done for you, call Travis Russell at ClinicFiller (888-703-9239).
3. You will need to give them a specific area to research. While all of us have patients that drive 30 minutes to see us, most of the normal patients come from a circle with a radius of 5 miles. Let’s assume we tell Pam or Travis that we need to know the new mover counts for the last 12 months in a circle about 5 miles radially from our office. You could use other distances, your zip code, or some other designation, but the five miles should do it. One thing to keep in mind is that this 5 mile circle may contain some real or imagined barriers that potential patients will not cross. There may be a highway or river where you are on the wrong side and you rarely have folks cross this line. Take this into consideration and help Pam or Travis understand where you want to survey. The more information the better the list. The second thing we need to do is provide a median household income to look at. I would recommend somewhere around $50,000 per household. If you live in an area where that is exorbitant or very low, then raise or lower it, but for the average office the $50K should work. They can help you with this. By the way, did I tell you that they do this (research) for free if you will just let them know that I sent you.
4. We will now have the average number of new move-ins per month. Now we can begin to figure out if we can afford this strategy. It should not eat up much of your budget but you need to consider how this works. Let me give you an example:
a. Assume there was an average of 100 new movers a month or 1200/year.
b. Assume that what you will send them will have a total cost of about a dollar. Therefore, if 100 people move that month, you will spend $100. So far, pretty simple. So if we started in July, we would be sending out people who moved in June (100 households), and we would send them some form of print, direct response marketing (DRM). DRM is just a form of marketing that creates a need, value, or urgency that results in them calling you.
c. Next month, August, we would have another 100 movers, so we would send each one of them the first piece of marketing and spend $100. The group from July will get a different second piece of marketing so we would spend a second $100, or a total of $200 for the second month.
d. The third month or in this case September would have another group in which we would send the first mailer and spend $100, the second mailer to the second group, and a third mailer to the first group for a total of $300. Hopefully you are following this because we need to come up with a budget to follow.
5. Budgeting the cost: Keep this in mind: While the average number of new movers in this example is 100, and we send to them three different mailers with offers, there will be months where there are more or less than the average. It makes sense that certain months, especially June-August, will have larger numbers than February. This is important in establishing a budget. In the example so far we would ultimately spend about $300/month once we pass the third month if we continue to do this each month, but there will be months that are far more expensive, so keep this in mind. So let’s look at this one more time. Let’s assume that the $100/month is beyond your budget (total marketing budget should be at least 3-5% of your collections, or if you are a start-up practice, I would count on about $2,000/month for the first six months) and you are wondering what to do. One of two things can be done: Move the distance (radius) from the office in closer so that there are fewer people to market to, or raise the median household income which would have the same result. Once your marketing starts to pay off, and your budget is higher, consider going back to the original suggestions as far as distance and income.
6. Assuming that you now have a budget and want to move forward, you will need to contract KM Lists and purchase the lists, monthly. They have a minimum charge per list and the list can only be used once, so take the time and figure out what your costs are before beginning. They will be happy to do this for you.
7. Secondly, you will need to have three pieces ready to go. For me, it was a newsletter, postcard, and letter, with a consistent marketing message but varied offers to create a service that they would be interested in calling about. If you decide on ClinicFiller (www.clinicfiller.com), just give Travis a call and he can take care of the design and even provide lists, mailing, and postage. A real turnkey system of mailers.
8. Lastly, make sure you have “intake readiness”. Marketing can only make the phone ring. If you don’t take their insurance, are not open consumer hours (Fridays, Saturdays, early and late), don’t like kids, and can’t get them in within 4-10 days (not working days, days) during peak demand times (7-9AM, 3-6PM, all day Friday, and Saturday from 8-2) you might as well spend your last dollar at Home Depot purchasing a nail gun and button up that front door because you are going down for the count.
The Super General Dental Practice is a place where we embrace change, understand consumerism, and remove the barriers to treatment. If you have not downloaded my newest book, please go the web site at www.supergeneralpractice.com and get your copy today. The second book will be ready by September and you do not want to be the last dentist on the block to embrace the strategy that will keep you growing to any practice size you want. Don’t wait, read the book today and start reaping the benefits of change.
Michael Abernathy, DDS