Prior to beginning any marketing outreach or campaign, we need to have four things chiseled in stone: The practice name, the logo, the domain name, and the practice strategy. Let’s take these in an outline form and begin to solidify the image we will project in any marketing campaign. Consistency is huge when it comes to imprinting our message on the consumers mind. Marketers even have a special term for this. It’s called “top of mind”. Your goal is to be so effective with these four things that when anyone in your community or neighborhood thinks “dentist”, they automatically think about your practice.
1. The Practice Name: So often the default choice will be the name of the doctor. Sounds logical, but please take a moment and reflect on just how short sighted this might be. If your name isn’t Abbott or Abernathy, you pay a huge price alphabetically by using a name like Zewinski. Bottom of the alphabet, last name in the phone book, last name in the insurance booklet, last name in the mind of the potential patient. Now I am not saying to never use your name, I only want you to consider if it is the best choice. What if, at some point, you decide to form a group practice with several doctors? In that case most of the junior doctors will not want to be remembered by just your name. What if your name is difficult to spell or pronounce? What if your name has a particular ethnic or racial bias in the minds of the public? Wouldn’t it be terrible if your name corresponded with the name of the latest greatest mass murderer? You get the idea. If it makes sense use it. Just make sure you have considered the alternatives.
2. The Logo: 89% of people are visual learners. A great logo may be the one thing that people remember about your marketing and practice signage. Later, they might remember your name. 92% of all dental appointments are made by females. That means your logo needs to be agreeable to the female eye. Also consider the “3 second rule”: You have about 3 seconds for a patient to see, read, recognize, and decide that they are interested in your marketing. This means that whether it is a billboard at seventy miles an hour, a postcard rapidly discarded as someone sorts their mail over a trash can, or your external sign hidden by an overgrowth of shrubs, you will have three seconds to stimulate a prospective patient into pausing long enough to read your message. The logo is huge, because it will adorn everything that you use in your practice: Prescription pads, signage, marketing, letter head, appointment cards, etc. Take enough time to design it, have numerous females vote on the design, keep it simple enough that it is recognizable as a dentist’s logo, and pick the colors and style that people will recognize and remember. There are literally thousands of companies that design these logos. One that we have used is called www.logoworks.com where for about $150 you can get them to design one for you.
3. Domain Name: It is doubtful that you are the one out of ten doctors who doesn’t have a web site and a subsequent domain name, but if you are, take the time to pick that name carefully. Natural marketing like convenience and location is awesome, but there is also some degree of that in picking the domain name. Shorter is much better than longer so that it is easier to remember and less likely to be misspelled (I always buy iterations of any domain I have so that if they did misspell it or get the two or three words in the domain name transposed, they would still get to my web site). Once again, it could be your name, but they may misspell it or be unable to remember it. You should take into account that most patients find your site by either a random search for a dentist in a particular area or town, or seek the exact site because a friend or marketing piece directed them there. If it is a random search, it would help you to have the name of the site and the name of the practice be similar and reflect that your are a dentist and you practice in a particular area. For me, it was www.mckinneydentist.com . You just need to take the time and make sure you consider all avenues in making that decision and that the name of the practice, the domain name, and logo all are tied seamlessly into everything you do.
4. Practice Strategy: Because what you sell will limit the number of clients you can attract, it would be judicious to remember that you can’t get better at giving patients what they don’t want. I got a call one day from a doctor who, through his own admission, felt like he was about to go bankrupt after only a year of practice. During the conversation I asked him where he practiced and then looked up the demographic information for that area. It was an area near Clearwater, Florida, but it wasn’t until we had been talking for 15 minutes that I found out he was a Pediatric Dental Specialist. When asked why he had chosen this area, he related that his “all-knowing” dental supplier thought it would be great due to the fact that there were no other Pedo practices in that area. After being sold millions of dollars of office design, supplies, equipment, and “invaluable” advice, he found himself barely able to pay his bills. I asked him if his dental supplier ever mentioned that there were no kids anywhere nearby and that it was the “blue hair” snow bird, retirement mecca for Florida and that he had the exact thing no one there needed: Dentistry for kids. Sometimes it’s not that black or white, but make sure your practice strategy matches your area demographics. If the average age is 31 then you would be just stupid to think that a cosmetic boutique implant sedation TMJ sleep apnea strategy would fly. Be smart and make sure that the practice name, logo, domain and practice strategy consistently complement one another.
Here is the big take-away: Make sure that you do not embark on this marketing campaign without re-looking at these four foundational points that form the legs to your marketing table. This will be the one thing that every consumer remembers, if it’s good, and forgets, if you fall short. It is hugely important and goes before anything else in marketing the Super General Dental Practice.
Michael Abernathy, DDS