Don’t Wait Until It Hurts

When starting a practice, it’s difficult to justify investing in marketing. If you market the practice before purchasing it, you may worry about the messaging fitting the patient base. If you wait to start your marketing until after you gain ownership, you risk running out of time to craft a marketing plan, budget and strategy.

The practices that are the most successful consider marketing early in the stages of practice ownership, even before the ink is dry. It could take time to research your market, position yourself with the most effective brand and craft a marketing plan. It also times time for certain strategies (such as SEO & social media marketing) to provide a positive ROI.

If I had one message to give to all aspiring practice owners, it’d be the same message many of you have for your patients…

Don’t wait until it hurts.

Don’t wait until your practice is exactly what you want it to be before you market it. Guide your practice by your marketing message. A well crafted brand will help you attract the right employees and patients and will accelerate your practice growth.

Please see the offer below if you’re looking for a starting point.

Dental Start Up Marketing

Are You Holding Your Google Ranking Back?

Dental Marketing Company

Marketing For DentistsSEO can be instrumental in attracting new patients to your practice. Naturally, you want your practice’s website to be ranked first when someone is searching for a dentist in your town or area.

There are several steps you can take to help your practice get there. This includes:

  1. Get Google Reviews
  2. Have ONE person manage your online presence, not several companies
  3. Add new content regularly by posting blogs
  4. Continually update your website to add on-site ranking factors
  5. Have a customized website created
  6. Obtain organic, high-quality back-links

You may be familiar with several of these tips. Have you ever considered what things you shouldn’t do when marketing your practice? You’ll want to avoid taking these missteps:

  1. For most practices, it does not pay to hire a local directory site to list you alongside other dentists in your town. When you do this, you are actually paying the directory service to outrank YOUR site. A more effective strategy is to improve your Google ranking and leap over these directory sites. Invest in your website, not someone else’s.
  2. Don’t get into the habit of regularly changing your keyword strategy, or having a long list of keywords. This dilutes the strength of your SEO campaign. There are situations where expanding your keyword reach is a smart decision to make, but this usually isn’t ideal when you are getting started.
  3. Never ignore bad reviews. Bad reviews are your enemy when trying to improve your ranking. We can help you. Ask us about our strategies for attaining 5-star reviews.

Talk to our team about strategies for improving your Google ranking. Don’t fall into these common traps. Instead, approach your SEO campaign with a new mindset with success as your goal. Our team has been utilizing SEO tactics since 2008. We’ve made a name for ourselves within the dental profession as a team that gets results. Our clients have achieved top ranking status even in highly competitive areas. Our solutions are tailored to your needs and available for a range of budgets. Contact us today to learn more.

OK Google, Siri, Cortana, Alexa – I’m Looking for a Dentist

Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing trend of location-based searches, with more than 80% occurring on mobile devices. Due to this, many of the keywords we recommend have been based on “near me” and town name searches that help our clients appear near the top of the listed results for potential patients in their primary area. However, as is so often the case, search patterns are changing. To ensure that our clients, and we, remain competitive, we need to consider the impact voice search will have on the future of online marketing.

Within the past year, over 60% of smartphone users report that they have begun to use voice search. The increased accuracy of modern voice recognition software has caused voice searches to evolve from a rare occurrence to billions of queries every week, and rising. Though currently only about 10% of all searches are voice-based, that number is expected to continue to increase rapidly.

Why does the search method matter? Keyword search results can vary wildly with even minor variations in word choice and word order. Voice search adds a layer of complexity into that mix. Put simply, voice searches primarily involve natural speech, not keywords. This makes voice searches tend to be longer and more detailed than typed queries. As an example, the searches “dentist near me” and “I’m looking for a dentist near me” yield very different results despite occurring in the same location and on the same device.

What’s the next step? Arrange a meeting with us to discuss your 2017 marketing strategy. Depending on your location and local competition, you may benefit from investing in additional SEO techniques designed to embrace new voice search trends. For more information or to schedule your consultation, contact our office.

The Problem in Starting With Why

WHY?

This has been a topic of many lectures, books and conversations in 2016. Simon Sinek’s book spread like wildfire in the dental industry. It’s difficult to admit this to some of my colleagues, but I didn’t love the book.

Now, before you judge me too quickly, hear me out please.

In my opinion, the premise of Start With Why encourages entrepreneurs to keep focused on their “Why” in order to be wildly successful.

Throughout the book, Sinek regularly mentions that he is not referring to branding. However, he is. He talks about the core of a product or service. He references Macintosh and how the “Why” is apparent to the employees of this company.

Sinek is a genius in my mind, not because any of his teachings are revolutionary, but because he rebranded branding! He simplified it, but left out VERY important elements in the process.

He took the topic of branding, which most people don’t fully grasp, and called it “Why”. He argues that everything should point back to your purpose. He argues that in everything you do, you should start with your “Why”.

Yes, the above is true, but it’s a half truth.

Now, this might sting a bit, but… it’s not about you. Simon played you by making you feel important and special. He’s so smart that he realized if he can promise you a simple way to success, that you’d eat it up. He was right and his message was wrong.

Truth: Success does not come by simply focusing on your purpose.

I disagree when he implies that the reason Macintosh has delivered such impressive results is because Apple employees buy in to the company’s mission or “why”. This simplified notion likely has Steve Jobs rolling in his grave. I promise you, the level of success achieved by Macintosh was because of the entirety, evolution and emotion of its brand.

Apple is successful because of powerful marketing strategy. Period. Apple does NOT sell computers and phone and tablets. Apple sells individuality and innovation. I’m typing this on my new MacBook Air, while sipping my Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha with 2 pumps, while my iPhone plays my Pandora mix.  I bought these  because of what they offer me. They fill my emotional needs. They make me feel important. They speed up my work flow. They offer me energy, individuality and contribute in some way to my self-esteem. I buy things for how they make me feel.

Your product, solution or service must serve a large enough need of others. You may have the strongest WHY in the world, but if you are the only person with that need or passion, it won’t matter. Have you ever had a friend approach you with a business idea that he or she was very excited about, but you thought was a terrible idea? You thought to yourself, “No one is going to need or buy that.” Effective marketing includes research which evaluates demands, trends, demographics. There’s so much more than your why.

You buy things that make up your IDENTITY. Whether you buy name brands or refuse, you are branding yourself with the things you buy and the people with which you do business.

I’ve spent my life obsessively studying branding, influence and marketing. Starting with why is a great concept because it’s simple. The more important lesson from the success of this book is to keep your marketing message simple and focused on one topic and it will become more memorable and thus more effective. Sinek knows that a complicated book with many facets wouldn’t break through clutter, just like complicated marketing messages don’t work.

I believe the book has opened up a discussion about marketing, but it oversimplifies success. It’s fluffy. It’s a false promise that you can be wildly successful, if you can get others to buy in to your why. The book itself proves my point. The book does not sell information. It sells something deeper. It sells a false promise that if you just focus on your why, you’ll be successful. I respectfully disagree.

Instead, start with you.

Yes, you have a great product, great service, a great team. You are in dentistry or consulting or coaching or accounting to help people. We should all be here to help people. Start with YOU. You is your customer. Instead of focusing on WHY, unveil the true needs of your customer. Provide a real solution to a real problem. Do it better or differently than you competition. Connect emotionally with your target market through effective marketing – like that thoughtfully produced by Macintosh. What is your customer’s why?

Perhaps Sinek is right. Perhaps you should start with why. I just plead that you don’t end there.

 

Great Dental Logos

Great dental logos are simple. Simplicity, like that seen in the iconic Nike swoosh, the famous Apple or the Golden Arches is intentional. The simpler the logo, the more memorable, the better.

Great dental logos use modern font. Sans serif fonts are trending currently and perceived as modern and chic. Cursive is no longer a part of our children’s public education. If considering a font for a modern dental brand, use scripted fonts sparingly.

Great dental logos are rarely red. Red is the color of caution. It psychologically warns your viewer to stay away. It’s also the color of blood. It’s very rare that I advise the color red as a main logo color. Also, do not use too many colors. No more than three colors should be utilized in a dental logo.

Avoid generic symbols that reinforce the subconscious message that all dentists are alike. Differentiate your brand with a unique but simple logo. Nike does not feature a gym shoe and Apple’s logo is not a computer- and for good reason.

Include the doctors’ names for recognition whenever possible but do not feel as if the business name is limited to the doctor’s name.

Building a brand goes far beyond designing a logo. Creating a powerful brand involves identifying a deeper meaning for your practice. Unveil what it is you are truly offering.

Remember, Apple is not selling technology. Apple sells individuality and creative freedom. Mercedes does not sell vehicles. Mercedes sells status. Nike does not sell apparel. Nike sells motivation.

You do not sell dentistry. You sell confidence. You sell a longer, healthier life. You sell so much more than what your community realizes. Create your branding (business name, tag line and logo) to enhance and shape your brand. Your logo is the initial impression, but you must build the meaning behind your brand with every future business decision you make. Let patients know you are modern, professional and gentle by choosing images and fonts and colors that psychologically represent you.

Simple is best.

Facebook: The Power of Engagement

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More than 1.7 billion people use Facebook each month. It has become a platform that serves a wide range of functions. Facebook users share slices of life, both good and bad, with friends, family members, and other connections. When your patients visit your office, it is highly probable that they will post about their experience on Facebook. Your practice probably has a Facebook page, as well. However, if you are not capitalizing on your Facebook presence, you are missing out on a wealth of opportunities.

Active and effective use of Facebook can help you:

  • market virally
  • attract new business
  • enhance patient loyalty
  • boost your brand
  • share helpful information
  • engage with community events
  • personalize your practice and team
  • announce special offers and activities

In addition to your practice page, take some time to view local community pages. Watch for opportunities to get involved in your community, as individuals or as a team. If you are hosting an event or special offer, send the details to the host of your community page. This can increase exposure for your practice and your event.

Consider adding a forum to your Facebook engagement. Set aside an hour or two each week to review some of the questions and discussions and to share your own thoughts and experiences. This can open your eyes to new ideas, keep you engaged with industry trends, and help promote you as an expert in your field.

Chances are, you could be getting more from your Facebook presence. Consider assigning a member of your team to share some thoughts each day or each week. Share ideas of your own. Respond to patient comments. Join a forum. Get engaged, and learn firsthand the power of Facebook.

Opportunity Called – Did You Answer?

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The first step to growing your practice is attracting new patients. Your website, social media, and marketing are all geared toward the idea of getting people to call your office. To help convert this interest into new patient appointments, you have probably spent time selecting and training the team members who answer the phones during office hours. But have you considered what happens when a prospective patient calls when the practice is closed?

If a person calls your office for information about a service or comparison shopping, they may decide to call back within your business hours. Chances are, they were not ready to schedule an appointment at the time of the call, so they may accept the delay and still call back. However, a new or current patient who is experiencing a dental emergency is far more likely to hang up and try calling another dentist who has someone answering the phones and ready to help.

Many dental practices do not have any coverage for phone calls outside their hours of operation or during lunch hour. Others have an impersonal answering machine advising callers of the practice hours and perhaps offering to record a message. This can be extremely frustrating for your patients, both current and prospective.

If your patient discovers on Friday afternoon or evening that they will need to reschedule an appointment set for Monday morning, chances are that message will not be heard until it is too late to move another patient into the opening. If your phones are being answered outside working hours, this can be addressed much more promptly, leading to better scheduling and happier patients.

You may be wondering how to arrange to have 24/7 phone coverage. There are a few options available, but one of the most economical and most personal for your practice is to train some of your team members to share the responsibility. No one has better knowledge of your practice, your patients, and your schedule than your own team. You will want to decide on the best way to compensate them for the added time, such as paying them a set amount per weekend or evening day or an amount per call answered. You’ll need to consult your legal advisor to be sure you are handling this properly.

Once this is determined, arrange a rotation for the team members who will participate. Your main phone line can be forwarded to a practice-owned mobile phone during off-hours, which can be held by the team member on call. Be sure that each person has your after-hours contact information in case of an emergency, especially when you are first launching this system.

After a few months, hold a meeting with all the involved team members to review the number of after-hours calls you receive, what times are most common, and how many are converted into new appointments for your practice. This can help you value the return on investment of this new plan of action and to determine whether your office benefits from full 24/7 coverage or if a more limited extension of hours is more cost-effective.

Evaluating Return on Investment

It’s important to have the ability to evaluate your return on investment.

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Automated call tracking phone numbers do not work. Often times patients can find your website from a mailer. Then call the number on the website. Perhaps they find you on Google, then visit your Facebook page before calling. Gone are the days when multiple phone numbers provide accurate data.

To value how your marketing is working, do the following:
1. Identify all of your referral sources. Enter them into your practice management software as referrals.

2. Train your team to ask every new patient how they heard of you EVEN BEFORE they schedule their first appointment. This allows you to track their ability to convert. It also can show failed appointment percentages. For instance, if you run a mailer and get 10 new patients scheduled from it but only 2 show, you may need to reevaluate the creative (design and written content)

3. Put a team member in charge of calculating your new patient reports. Break down each referral source by month and put the number of new patients from that source.

4. Last but not least, consider the investment amount. If you are investing $1500/month on internet marketing and seeing 15 new patients from it. You are spending about $100 per new patient. Compare this to your direct mail campaign, which may average $500 per new patient.

These numbers are crucial in determining where to place your marketing budget. As your marketing mix (strategies) grow, so will your ROI if you are doing things right.

Actual ROI is defined as: ROI is usually expressed as a percentage and is typically used for personal financial decisions, to compare a company’s profitability or to compare the efficiency of different investments. The return on investment formula is: ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100.

It is difficult to evaluate exact ROI, since patients spend money over many years. To calculate your exact ROI, you can average the value of a new patient. You can also take the extra step and evaluate how much production was created per referral source.

For instance: If those 15 new patients end up spending $22,500 in a 6 month or year period, you can do the simple math ($22,500 / $9,000) x 100 = 250% ROI.

In reality, our ROI is usually much better than this example. I prefer to evaluate the effectiveness of a campaign on the average cost to acquire a new patient. It’s simpler to digest and and makes the investment decision easy. If I am able to get your new patient acquisition cost below $100 and ideally even below $50 – I know you’ll have no qualms investing in our solutions and services.

Happy Holidays!

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The holidays are the perfect time to share your gratitude and warm wishes with the people who choose you as their dentist all year long. We can design your custom holiday card for only $250.

We understand how busy this season can be. That’s why we are offering convenient options to meet the needs of a busy dental practice! Please see our packages below:

  1. We will design and print your custom holiday cards and envelopes and ship them to your office.
    1. 1,000 cards/envelopes for $1,250
    2. 2,500 cards/envelopes for $2,000

     

  2. If you love the idea, but cannot spare the time, we will design, print, address, and mail your holiday cards. You supply the addresses, and we do the rest. [*Price does not include postage.]
    1. 1,000 cards/envelopes for $2,000*
    2. 2,500 cards/envelopes for $2,500*

To get started enhancing your brand and connecting with your patients through holiday cards, please contact our office.

Stop Living in the Past.

 

You may already know how first impressions work. Within seconds, the person you are meeting for the first time has already judged you subconsciously and made assumptions about your income level, personality, hobbies and more.

Before patients ever make their way through your front door, they’ve already judged your business. They’ve done this in seconds after finding your website online. Some of these judgements involve whether or not you are up to date in your methods and technology. These judgements are the basis of whether the visitor will call you or continue to search online for someone who makes a better first impression.

Most people don’t realize that the majority of people browsing the internet do not take the time to read your written content prior to making an initial judgement. Instead, they judge you instantly by the design of your website.

They will subconsciously assume your technology and methods are out of date if your website is out of date.

From 2014 to 2016, MUCH has changed in the world of website design. 

In 2014, modern designs included a 2 column, simplistic layout. Many sites featured stock photography and a page that was separate from its background. The sites were often mobile friendly, but not always responsive. Few sites included a major focus on online reviews or custom video content. Few featured real patient photos.

In 2016, we’re seeing a lot of movement and modular design. Most websites do not have a distinguished page, but instead have horizontal sections for scrolling. Minimalistic designs are growing in popularity, but often lack necessary information and ranking factors which help online visibility. Parallax scrolling effects are subtle yet very impressive and show a certain sophistication that the 2014 websites no longer possess. Online forms are now more likely pop-ups or very minimalistic. Large photos and maps are more popular than those restricted to boxes on the page. Menus are smaller and more condensed and now often “stick” to the top of the page, keeping contact information available at all times.

How often do I need to update my design?

If you have a very modern and technologically savvy dental practice, you will want your website updated every 2 years, depending on how much has changed in trends. We’ve seen spans of 2-3 years pass without major design trends hit the mainstream. Other years, like 2016, the websites developed in January are very different than those created in October- just because of rapidly evolving trends.

What’s involved in updating my website design?

We’ll implement a completely new layout for you, which utilizes the current trends. We’ll work with our developers to completely redevelop your website and coding, which is necessary when changing the layout and design of your website. We’ll test every page on every browser. We may recommend sending us updated team and patient photos to use in place of the stock photos used in the past.

You will have the opportunity to see and approve the new layout before it is developed and made live.

Here is a  sample:

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