If you have not read the posts the last two weeks, you will need to go back and review them. We are finishing up the dynamic between marketing, you (the doctor), and the company selling you that marketing service. This week we aim at the actual marketing company. They come in every color, size, and shape. They sell websites, campaigns, print material, design, and all sorts of the latest, never before seen magic patient attraction doohickeys. Before you even contact a marketing company, we need to be doing our part within the walls of our practices to be attractive to new clients.
First of all, we need to be marketable. You absolutely must have a unique selling position, more of what the consumer wants, and less of what they don’t want. Assuming that your side is covered, we need to find the latest greatest marketing guru to throw thousands of dollars at in the hope of turning on the new patient faucet. When we look at marketing experts and their companies you are going to find:
- Every one of them will tell you that their perspective, product, and service is exactly what you need. Reality: Maybe, but probably not.
- Almost each and every marketing company is great at closing the sale and getting you to buy their product or service. Reality: They are great at it.
- Few will take the time to delve into whether you are actually marketable. Reality: True in almost every case. Marketing companies cannot make your practice grow. They can only make the phone ring. They are interested in the sale, and giving you what they have to sell you regardless of whether you are ready.
- Most will tell you exactly what you want to hear: You have come to the right place and we have what you need. They are the solution to your problems. Reality: Every time
- Most have some level of expertise and have had some level of success. Reality: True
Like we said last week, the weak link and the cause for all of the calls I get from upset clients that want me to contact their marketing company and get their money back, is that there was no common ground of understanding as to what they were buying and what the marketing company was selling. The key to finding a great company is looking in the right place and using some kind of check list to determine their commitment and your goals so that you do not have buyer’s remorse. While they can only get potential clients to call, some are far better than others at doing just that.
- Never hire a marketing company out of desperation. Most offices spend money on external marketing when the real issue is an internal flaw. No marketing can fix an unmarketable office. The trouble is that marketing companies all know this and still take your money without taking the time to really understand the “why” behind your lack of new patients. The bottom line is that if you are not growing, you are not meeting the patient’s needs. Don’t even begin to market if you don’t have at least a 50% direct referral rate from existing, happy, satisfied patients that love you and your office.
- Nearly all marketing companies will want you to sign a long-term contract for their services. I personally do not like this trend, but I do understand the “why”. Marketing companies know that they will need at least 6 months to really impact your new patient bottom line. Most dentists expect results the first week or two. That means that most dentists who do not sign a long-term contract will drop the vendor before they have had a realistic, reasonable time to do their thing.
- I would be sure that knowing what takes place in number 1 and 2, that you take the time to read the contract, add benchmarks that quantitate results based on what the marketing company thinks they can do, and create a point of resolution so that if they do not perform, you can get out of the contract. If this is not possible, I would look elsewhere. Both parties need to have bacon in the fire. Yours is money, theirs is marketing with results. There should be some expectation on both parties as to what your investment should yield.
- I would not every hire a company that does not take the time to explain the demographics, likelihood of success, and train your office on how to turn that phone call into an appointment. Offices that need patients need that type of training and follow through. Marketing companies should have the depth of time and talent to help any client they attract.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. SEO, Google Click ads, Facebook, etc., are all just one side of a complex marketing offering. They are not enough. Determine a budget, and make sure that you spread your risk by being consistent, diversified, and continue to become a student of marketing yourself.
Take the time and click this link and get a copy of Marketing the Super General Dental Practice. This book intentionally leaves out all digital and internet marketing and is filled with thousands of innovative ways to market your practice. Just one of these strategies netted me over 250 new patients the first month. There is a chapter with over 300 marketing ideas that don’t cost a thing. I think you will find this book a great addition to your marketing war chest. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS