Month: March 2014

Countdown to Hinman 2014: Will We See You There?

Yes, I’m really this excited.

Jill and I are thrilled to attend the 102nd Annual Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting in Atlanta, GA next week. Although we’ve opted not to rent a booth this year, I’d like to personally extend an invitation to connect with us and schedule an appointment time. We can discuss the latest and greatest in social media, blogging, and digital marketing for your practice, and we’ll answer your questions about creating a strong online presence that strengthens your relationship with new and existing patients.

By the way, have you checked the Dental Junkie events calendar lately? We’ve added over 70 events from now through the end of 2014, with hundreds more soon to be posted. You’ll find dental conferences, annual sessions, expos, CE opportunities, and workshops from across the country—nay, the world!

It’s nearly impossible to say what I’m most excited about, but these are my top 10 courses and special events picks for the 2014 Hinman meeting:

No. 1: Speakers. So Many Speakers.

Previous years’ speakers have been nothing short of fascinating, and I’m sure the latest crop won’t disappoint. Dr. Anthony Cardoza will be on hand to discuss forensic dentistry, and I’ll be interested to hear from local practitioner Dr. Jimmy Eubank as he shares insights into restorative dentistry and occlusion. Dr. Mark Hyman always has interesting things to say about motivation and team building, and Dr. John Svirsky may very well blow your mind with his discussion of oral pathology. Dr. Svirsky rocks a bowtie like nobody’s business, and it’s obvious from his speaker photo that this is a man who gets very excited about oral pathology.

No. 2: Creating Vision and Value for Patients

In this post, I pointed out that one of our clients’ biggest challenges is marketing to cost-conscious patients at a time when many view preventive care as elective. Imtiaz Manji discusses the power of dentistry to effect positive changes in patients’ lives, both clinically and socially. Manji emphasizes the need to create a unique vision that encompasses their needs as patients, people, and consumers. Course Th303, 3/27/2014, 8am – 11am

No. 3: The Exhibit Hall

I could (and probably will) spend hours perusing the exhibits. The Exhibit Hall features charity events, food, charging stations, vendors, table clinics, and thousands of people who share your passion for all things dental. New this year is the “Dentists Only” session. On March 27, from 9am – 11am, attendance will be limited to dentists only. Plan ahead with the interactive 2014 Exhibit Hall map, which you’ll find here.

No. 4: Health and Wellness Track

Can’t decide on your courses? Opt for a track, which is something of an all-inclusive program comprised of several speakers and workshops. Altogether, you’ll hear from five speakers, each with an hour-long discussion of topics to include oral cancer, patient medication safety, longevity, cardiovascular disease, and the effects of lifestyle on chronic illnesses. Course Sa270, 3/29/2014, 8:30am – 3pm

No. 5: Networking Reception and Panel Discussion With Women Dentists

As a woman, mother, and business owner, I understand the importance of balancing family life and work. Panel members will discuss practice management, career advancement, and what it means to be a woman and a dentist. Course Sa411, 3/29/2014, 12pm – 1:30pm

No. 6: 21st Century Dentures: New Ideas, Techniques, and Technology

Baby Boomers are more knowledgeable about personal oral health than their predecessors, and they’ll no doubt seek out the best treatments and care. Dr. Joseph Massad shares his thoughts on improved impression techniques, occlusal schemes, and jaw relationship recording. Course Sa373, 3/29/2014, 1:30pm – 4:30pm

No. 7: The Fun Way to Proficiency With Digital Dental Photography

Who wouldn’t want the chance to become the Ansel Adams of intraoral photography? Dr. Mark Kleive leads a hands-on workshop for capturing images that improve communication between your team and your patients. Role-playing abounds. Course Sa164, 3/29/2014, 9:30am – 12:30pm

No. 8: Ask and Ye Shall Receive! The Art of Getting to “Yes”

In last week’s post, I touched on the benefits of internal marketing for case acceptance and patient referrals. In this course, Dr. Mark Hyman offers advice on selling services, building strong dental teams, and the critical nature of listening to your patients. Course Sa361, 3/29/2014, 9:30am – 12:30pm

No. 9: Back to the Eighties Auxiliary Reception

Arcade games, live music, a photo booth, and a costume contest? Do tell! Open to hygienists, office staff, lab techs, and assistants, the reception will be held at the Omni Hotel ballroom and features a buffet, dancing, and drawings. Complimentary beer and wine, as well as a cash bar. Bless them, they even offer free shuttle service to nearby hotels. Friday, 3/28/2014, 7pm – 11pm.

No. 10: Messages to Our Military

Not a purely dental affair, but an incredible gesture nonetheless. Stop by Booth #137 in the Exhibit Hall to send an appreciative postcard to American soldiers serving overseas. More than 2,500 attendees participated last year, and I know we can do even better in 2014.

About the author: Jill Nastasia, CEO and Director of Business Development at MDPM Consulting, lives, breathes, and dreams dentistry. From masterminding social media to forging brand identity, she is passionate about her clients’ dental practices and patient experience. She’s also passionate about Flock of Seagulls and has every intention of winning the 80s costume contest.

3 Thinking Points for the Small Business Start-Up

Important considerations for most start-up businesses fall into these categories: philosophical, physical, and practical. The “3 Ps,” if you will. Taking time to analyze each “P” during the panning phase, prior to launching a business, will result in increased confidence, sharper direction, and solid goals for the entrepreneur.

Many people experience a seductive excitement about starting a new business, assuming an existing business, or purchasing additional locations. However, not all would-be entrepreneurs see their dreams through to fruition. Why? Let’s look at dentists.

Dentists are professionals with doctorate degrees who have invested significant time and money into their education. They are smart as a whip and know dentistry inside and out. Unfortunately, like a great number of entrepreneurs across various industries, dentists don’t know business, and business is an essential element in entrepreneurial success. While the idea of starting, or expanding, a dental practice is exciting, taking time to create a comprehensive business plan, not just to submit for a loan or seed money, but to set a course and define a purpose, will eliminate many potential storms along your journey toward success.

In this article, we’ll touch on the philosophical, physical, and practical considerations for a start-up business. First, however, think about whether you have what it takes to find success as an entrepreneur.

Dreamers vs. Doers

Many would-be entrepreneurs become overwhelmed thinking about the philosophical, physical, and/or practical aspects of starting a business. As a result, they either skip important considerations, saving them for a later date that never comes; become lodged in the mire and never move forward; or they give up their dream of owning a business and go to work for someone else. Wise entrepreneurs think their ideas all the way through before they begin the adventure of starting a new business. Wise entrepreneurs conduct the research and gather the data they need for a complete business plan, then press onward to achieve their dreams based on the information they’ve assembled and goals they’ve defined. They cement the foundation of their future in facts and logic, then allow their dreams to grow on reliable footing. Read More

Marketing Your Dental Practice in a Recession

At least his teeth look great.

According to a recent poll, 70% of Americans believe the economy is still in a recession. Dental practices nationwide report decreases in production, most notably in the number of new patients. Clients come to us with concerns about losing patients to rival practices, but dentistry in a recession isn’t always about competition among dentists. As patients tighten their purse strings, you’re far more likely to find yourself competing against rent, groceries, and debt. The solution? Internal marketing.

What Is Internal Marketing?

Internal marketing capitalizes on two of your most valuable assets, your staff and your current patients. Its main objectives are:

  • Retain existing patients
  • Increase per-patient value
  • Generate referrals

Basically, it’s your dental practice’s calm in the storm, a marketing function that focuses on aspects over which you have a good degree of control. You can’t change the economy, you can’t change minimum wage, and you can’t give every patient a job. What you can give them is information, kindness, value, and dental health solutions.

A Satisfied Patient Is a Loyal Patient

On what factors do consumers base their buying decisions? If we’re talking about tangible goods, the answer is usually price. Dentistry, on the other hand, is a service. A practice that caters primarily to insured patients cannot effectively compete on the basis of price alone. All things being equal, a patient with dental coverage will pay the same copay at your practice that he will at the office up the street. It’s up to your team to create a patient experience that goes above and beyond the typical dental experience. Consider developing your practice’s personal signature, something your patients can look forward to. For example, we have a client who offers scented neck wraps, and another who eases patients’ anxiety with guided imagery and chairside meditation. There’s little margin for error here, which explains why so many practices are now investing in staff development and training. The economy will improve, and your patients will know exactly who to call when the time comes.

Convert More Patients With Stellar Case Presentations

When money is tight, patients reassess their ideas of what constitutes an elective procedure. For a financially secure patient, preventive and restorative dentistry are non-negotiable. Unfortunately, stability isn’t par for the course these days. Dentists are finding that many patients think of preventive as the new elective. In other words, if it isn’t causing excruciating pain, it’s elective. Practices nationwide report a larger number of fix-it and single-tooth treatments, many for patients who disappear forever after—no checkups, no professional cleanings. Nothing.

Money talks, but value explains. During your case presentation, a cash-strapped patient will focus primarily on the price tag. It’s up to you to present the value of the proposed solution in terms of their health. Touch on the basics of the procedure, but spend more time communicating the nature of the problem and the benefits of the treatment. Because money matters are now the crux of many patients’ healthcare spending decisions, your patient will be more protective of his finances. If a patient perceives that you are selling a solution for a problem that he doesn’t really have, you can be certain that he won’t return under more favorable economic conditions.

Leverage Existing Patients’ Connections With Referral Programs

Referral programs are a win-win solution. Your practice wins by gaining direct access to prospective patients, who receive the recommendation from someone they already know and trust. Patients win because they get an opportunity to enjoy “something for nothing,” so to speak. Making recommendations to friends takes five seconds on social media, and social media analytics make building awareness, monitoring success, and measuring engagement a no-brainer. However, referral programs are not an option in some states, which forbid remuneration for soliciting referrals. Check with Jill or myself before implementing a program.

Example 1: Each time a patient refers someone to the practice, both patients’ names are entered into a drawing for gift cards, an electric toothbrush, complimentary teeth whitening, etc.

Example 2: For every X number of new patients referred, the referring patient receives a reward or credit toward future dental work.

As always, you are welcome to contact either myself or Jill with questions about program design and social media.

New patients are hard to come by these days, but things are looking up. Internal marketing presents incredible opportunities to grow your practice at a time when most are desperately marketing to patients

About the Author: Jill Nastasia, CEO and Director of Business Development, is unsure of which type of recession is worse, economic or gingival. To learn more about our dental marketing solutions, contact Jill at 972-781-8861, or email her at