How Did You Get into Dental Marketing?

grace-dental-marketerI’m asked this questions on a regular basis.  Recently a client asked me to provide him with my story. He wanted to know why and how I gained the experience necessary to grow his business. So, in my usual state of full disclosure, I gave him my story.  Today, I’ll share it with you.

The history of Identity Dental Marketing

In 2007, I graduated from Marquette University with honors and entered the “real world”. I had already completed multiple unpaid internships and applied to every advertising agency in Chicago and Milwaukee. With very little opportunity available (due to a panicked economy), no family connections and literally no place to live, I started providing freelance graphic design services to a local manufacturing company and took a full-time job downtown Chicago selling gym memberships. It was a far cry from my dream job as a copywriter for an ad agency, but these early experiences laid the foundation for my future entrepreneurial experiences.

Hands-on experience in a competitive sales environment proved crucial to my success at my next position as “marketing director” for a dental office with multiple doctors and locations. Beating out over 40 applicants for this position, I finally had found a position where I could be strategic and creative.
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Dental Dance Lessons $150

There’s an art to conversing with patients. A certain “back and forth” that allows you to lead the conversation while involving the patient. It’s similar to a formal dance. It’s important that your team be trained in this hypothetical dance.  It’s most important that front desk employees master the steps.  One flub by the front desk employee could mean that you’ll never even get to meet the patient on the other end of the line.

marketing steps
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Are QR Codes Right for Your Dental Marketing?

I recently spoke at a branch meeting for the Chicago Dental Society. It was a great experience. I have the mentality that there’s always room to improve and always something to learn.  I also believe that as a presenter, it’s best to involve the people as much as possible. One-way conversation gets stale in any situation. I guess I don’t see myself as a “lecturer” but more of a “facilitator” whenever there’s an opportunity to present to a small group.

During our discussion someone asked about QR codes. In case you’re wondering, QR codes look like this:

qrcode In discussing QR codes and their use (which I’ll explain more in my next post), we got to the point where I said, “this may be for you, it may not be for you”.  Dentists are used to speakers telling them just what to do and what not to do.  I think it really depends. It depends on the type of patients you are connecting with.  It depends on your level of comfort and understanding. It depends on if you’re even set up to effectively roll something like this out.  If you don’t even have a modern website, in most instances, it wouldn’t make sense to use a QR code.
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Put Your Oxygen Mask on First!

This morning, I had a quick discussion with a friend. I asked how his business was coming along.  He told me that it’s not profitable yet but growing.  He told me that his role in his non-profit is making it harder to have enough time to get his business off the ground.

I’ve been there.

A common challenge for many entrepreneurs is realizing the need to focus and put your MAIN business first, especially at the early stages.  I passed this advice to my friend and told him, “Put your oxygen mask on first.”

oxygen-maskBy this, I mean that you need to help yourself first and then you’ll be able to help even more people.  When you’re flying and you hear the instructions of the attendant or displayed on the TV screen, you’ll see that they always tell you to put your oxygen mask on before helping others.  Simply put, you can help more people by helping yourself first. It sounds selfish and you may think I’m crazy by writing this publicly. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, so I want to share it.
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Is Your Marketing is “Schizophrenic”?

Yesterday while speaking with a very experienced and knowledgeable consultant, she shared with me that one of her clients has what she called “schizophrenic marketing”.

As she progressed to tell me about her client, she mentioned that he was working with various marketing companies all with different visions.  He has 2 websites, neither of which are very good.  He has a variety of programs and advertising, but isn’t really sure which efforts are working and which are just a waste of money.


Now, I don’t think his marketing is suffering from delusions, but it’s definitely dysfunctional. It’s very important to know the value of each of your marketing efforts.  It’s extremely valuable to be able to center your marketing and have one company or person handle all of your efforts.
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What Kills Dental Team Morale?

Many dentists graduate dental school and go on to work as an associate for a few years before starting their own practice.  You often start out as a top dog and sometimes have a hard time relating to what life was like prior to being a business owner.  Unlike restaurant managers and business executives, most dentists never had to “work their way up”. This can make it very difficult for them to relate to their staff.


Instead of calling them your “staff”, make an oath to refer to them as your “team”.  Without them, you would have a very difficult time running everything.  A smooth running office start with respect from the dentist to the team.  It’s up to YOU to set the example of respectful behavior.  (Respect is NOT passive aggression.)
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Don’t Forget the Sour Cream!

We order from a local restaurant about once a week for lunch.  It’s really a great restaurant because they have super healthy and affordable options that don’t taste like cardboard.

We order lunch and often in an attempt to hit a minimum amount to qualify for delivery, we have to add extras like sour cream.  Unfortunately, they always forget to include it.  They’ve literally forgotten something every single time we’ve ordered from them.  I even made a note once in my order that said, “Please don’t forget the sour cream.”  You guessed it, no sour cream.

Today, I called and asked to speak to the manager.  He was unavailable.  I wanted to tell him kindly that their processes aren’t working.  I know, I sound like a horrible complainer, but as a business owner, I understand the importance of feedback. He wasn’t available and has yet to get back to me.  I guess my satisfaction doesn’t matter.  I think I’ll stop ordering from them.

As a dentist, you already know that it’s important to provide high-quality patient care.  You know it’s important to listen and implement processes, but do you ever make it easy for your patients to provide you with anonymous feedback? What if your hygienist has really bad breath?  What if your front desk person is hanging up on people?  What if you are overlooking something that is bothering your patients enough to drive them away?

Don’t be like our local restaurant.  If you forget the metaphorical sour cream, make it better. Give patients an opportunity to tell you what their experience has been like and most importantly,  FIX IT!

Call us for help implementing a patient feedback system. We can even create an anonymous feedback form on your website for only $50. Contact Identity Dental Marketing today.

– Grace Rizza

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3 Quick Dental Marketing Tips

1. Make sure your patients know what services you offer.

Many dentists skip the suggestion to develop a customized brochure for their office.  They think that the freebies sent in the mail provide enough information about their services.  Patients often see these brochures and still question their dentists ability to perform those services.  A branded brochure will be a great internal marketing strategy.  It can also be used when networking with local businesses.

2. Make it easy for your patients to discuss elective services.

Every so often, you should update your patients’ records.  Ask them to update their contact information and fill out what we call a “smile survey”.  You can also give this survey to new patients.  We can create a custom smile survey for you to find out what elective services your patients may have interest in now or in the future.  This is a great way to bring up that little gap in Mrs. Lightman’s smile because she had mentioned in her smile survey that it bothers her slightly.  It’s much better than assuming that she is unhappy with it and risking offending her by bringing it up on your own.  At the end of the year, you will see a difference in your bottom line and your patient satisfaction.

3. Follow-up Book

Keep a book/log where your front desk staff can track cancellations or patients who leave without booking their next appointment.  In the follow up book, allow a space for notes so that your staff can jot down reasons to call Mr. Brown. Call him back saying, “Hi, Mr. Brown.  It was nice seeing you last week. We do want to get you in the schedule for that filling before it gets worse.  We have an availability next week on Thursday at 10am. Will that work for you?” When the patient is appointed, simply cross off his or her name in the book.

Call us today for a 20% discount on a brochure or smile survey.

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“We Have Never Done any Marketing.”

Last week in Aruba at the ADCPA Continuing Education Getaway I gave a presentation about internet marketing.  I spoke about what the different options are and what you can expect from them. I warned attendees about scams and efforts that won’t produce a positive ROI. After the presentation, quite a few dentists wanted to speak more on the subject.

One very experienced and knowledgeable office manager named Sharon approached me and said, “We’ve never done any marketing and our practice does great, but now I’m considering it.”  My response, “You do marketing every day.” She looked a bit confused.

As we continued to discuss, she mentioned about 5 different marketing tasks that she does regularly.  Sharon meant that her practice has never done any advertising.  It’s important to realize that you don’t need advertising to grow a dental practice.  There are advertising methods that work, but marketing is so much BIGGER than advertising.

What is marketing then?
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