Marketing – what works and why

Nov. 25, 2013
Now, more than ever, people choose their dentists from marketing. I think dentists prefer referred patients since they come with a higher level of trust than marketing-generated patients.

By Michael Kesner, DDS

Now, more than ever, people choose their dentists from marketing. I think dentists prefer referred patients since they come with a higher level of trust than marketing-generated patients. But a marketing-generated new patient does refer his or her family and friends. This increases your number of referred patients.

To build a successful, multimillion-dollar dental practice, a dentist must have an effective marketing campaign. There are a couple of different types of marketing pieces that can be created for a practice that, in my experience, produce dramatically different results.

One is to create a slick, professional-looking marketing piece that has a picture of the dentist and office, dentist's name and degrees, the organizations the dentist is a member of, and a list of benefits that sets the practice apart.

This marketing piece is projecting to the potential new patient how wonderful the dentist and the office is. This is the main reason the patient should make an appointment. The dentist believes these benefits will compel people to choose his or her office as compared to the one across the street. The real question is: Does the reader of the marketing piece consider these to be benefits or something they just expect?

A good way to determine if a benefit is really just an expectation is that the benefits should not be able to be followed with the statement, "Well, I should hope so!"

For example: "Gentle dentistry" can be followed with the statement, "Well, I should hope so!" Some other examples include: "We care about you."... "Well, I should hope so!" "Doctor takes a lot of continuing education."... "Well, I should hope so!" "We have the latest technology.""Well, I should hope so!"

Here is another way to market that I find more effective.

First, we need to know what the main objective is for the marketing piece. For me, the purpose is to lower the risk for people to choose to call my office and make an appointment. The patient is taking a risk when he or she schedules an appointment because the patient may not like the dentist or the office.

If a dentist charges a full fee for an exam, consultation, and X-rays for a patient to come and find out what treatment is needed, then the patient is taking all of the risk. What if I lower their risk by lowering the fee for the patient to see if he or she likes the office or not? By reducing their risk, I also increase the response rate to my marketing.

When a dentist spends money on marketing, the dentist is not paying for new patients. The dentist is only paying to get the office phone to ring. Someone is not a new patient until he or she actually walks through the front door.

A person who calls a practice because of its marketing is often more difficult to schedule for an appointment than a referred patient. None of the caller's friends or family recommended the dentist, so the trust level is typically lower than a referred patient.

The front-desk staff must be well trained on how to convert this type of caller into a new patient. Front-desk staff needs to know how to inspire and invite the caller into the practice. A dentist will be wasting advertising dollars if the office staff is not trained on how to properly handle the phone call.

Improper phone techniques are costly because the dentist is not only losing what it costs to get the phone to ring, but the dentist has also lost the dentistry that would have been done if the patient had appointed. If a dentist does not know how the staff is answering the phone, then he or she does not know how many potential patients are being lost and how to fix the problem.

Recording inbound phone calls through a phone system or through an online provider is a great way to hear how the staff is handling new patient phone calls. The recording is also valuable feedback to help the staff person improve phone skills.

Marketing a practice the right way, in combination with good phone techniques, will increase a practice's revenue. It took me years to learn how to create an effective marketing campaign and to know how to convert phone calls into appointments. It is well worth the time, energy, and money to learn these skills and strategies to keep a steady influx of new patients.

Dr. Mike Kesner's practice ranks on the Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in America. He is author of the book "Multi-Million Dollar Dental Practice" and CEO of Quantum Leap Success in Dentistry. They teach more production, higher profits, and less stress. Contact him at [email protected].

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