What Sets Your Dental Office Apart?

I have asked this question thousands of times through the years: What sets your dental practice apart from others? Funny thing is, most dentists (if not all) say that one-on-one attention and customer service make their dental practice better.

“Better” is a bad word when discussing dentists. I know that you have a respected peer relationship with other dentists in your area. However, you’re a dentist and I’m a dental marketing expert. One of us has to consider your peers competition. Let it be me.

My point is, the attention and service your team provide to patients may be head and shoulders above your competitors’, but: A) no one will know until they become your patient; B) so the only time it matters is in word-of-mouth or testimonial marketing; C) surely there is something else that truly sets you apart – something measurable or tangible. Find it. Show it off.

Ask yourself:

  • What training and certifications do you have that others may not?
  • What experience do you have (even life, not career, experiences) that others do not?
  • What training and experiences do your team members have that others may not?
  • What technology does your office offer that others may not?
  • Do you have before and after photos or videos for your marketing?
  • Are your labs extraordinary, or do you have an in-office lab?
  • What conveniences do you offer? (parking, online forms, payment plans, kids’ play area, etc.)
  • What comforts do you offer? (anesthesia, sedation, ergonomic chairs, sunglasses, iPods, neck pillows, paraffin hand treatment, etc.) Read More

Case Acceptance by Mayer Levitt of Jodena Consulting

Today’s guest blog is by dental consultant Dr. Mayer Levitt of Jodena Consulting. A former dentist himself, Mayer has helped tons of dental practices to achieve better profits, retention, and publicity since 1989. You can learn more ways to improve your practice by subscribing to Mayer’s blog.

Needless to say, it has been tough sledding for any business owner battling the effects of the “great recession”. But lately, everything I read is predicting a moderate rebound in the economy with job creation and less  unemployment. Up until now, people have been understandably cautious with their discretionary spending, so there is a lot of pent-up demand for nonessential services. Thus the environment for promoting comprehensive and cosmetic dentistry is probably the best that it has been in almost three years. How can you take advantage?

1. You need to promote “wants” based dentistry instead of “needs” based dentistry. Patients will pay out-of-pocket for what they want, yet will continue to depend on insurance to pay for what they need. Your mission is to get patients excited and emotional about what dentistry can do for them. Please take the time to schedule treatment consultations where you offer choices. Choices empower patients. Remember that people like to buy – but they don’t like to be sold. I am very excited about how dramatic case presentation can be by using an I-Pad.

2. You need to realize that your fees are not preventing people from accepting comprehensive dentistry but rather a lack of flexibility in payment options that you currently offer. If you can give someone a way to budget their payments for the dentistry, and they really want the dentistry, they will accept the treatment.  Re-examine how well your financial coordinator is presenting Care Credit or other outsourced arrangements. Scripting and verbal skills are so important. Outsourcing should be a first choice rather than a last resort. You can’t afford to be the bank. By outsourcing financial arrangements and offering extended payment plans, you give your patients the opportunity to pay for the dentistry on a monthly basis, yet you get paid right away. Read More

5 Social Networking Tasks Dentists Can Hire a Teenager to Do

In a Biznik article, Sue Cartwright, Social Media Marketing Expert, tells us: “With 78% of consumers trusting peer reviews when only 14% trust advertisements, it is essential to be involved in your online community, to build a good reputation and know what people are saying about you. To do this effectively you need to engage in conversations, monitor the outcomes, join the debate, help others and show customers you care as a means to building a loyal network.”

Having been in dental marketing for years, I know that most dentists don’t have the staff or time to invest in an all-out social media marketing campaign. I do think, however, there are a few things your front office person can do to get your office engaged on Facebook. You can even hire your teenage daughter to do these things. Seriously, $10 an hour, 5 hours a week – not much of an investment. The return will show up, most likely, in patients being more loyal to you, giving you free word-of-mouth referrals, and remembering to keep up with recall visits and follow up with treatment. Why? Because you’ll be engaged, showing that you care!

You’ll need a human page and a fan page to make this work. Here’s how to do it: Read More

Should Dentists Use Patient Testimonials in Marketing?

According to NeilsenWire, 90% of people trust their friends’ recommendations for services and products. A shocking 70% of Americans trust recommendations they find online from people they may not even know. There are plenty of places to find recommendations online: YouTube, Yelp!, Twitter, Facebook, Google Places, DemandForce… the list goes on and on. These patient opinions on the Internet are indexed by search engines so that anyone can find them – and there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Positive testimonials are great, and in fact, today more than ever, dentists across the nation use testimonials in marketing. But are they supposed to?

I was recently asked this question by a client, and he mentioned that he’d heard some chatter on the issue lately. When I first began copywriting for dentists, writing websites and blogs years ago, one of the most important topics I investigated was the ADA’s guidelines for dental advertising, marketing, and promotions. In my career, I’ve seen a handful of dentists receive a letter from their state dental board stating that particular language or references must be taken off the dental practice website within 10 days. Now, I’ve never seen a dentist actually have his license suspended for an infraction, but it could happen. If you don’t want to get a warning from your state dental board, there are a few things you need to do.

First of all, contact your state dental board or go online and find the bylaws that address marketing and promotions. Most states adhere to the ADA’s guidelines, but some have added stipulations. For instance, in California, dentists cannot use the term “sleep dentistry.” Ohio, Georgia, and Texas are also known to have guidelines that extend beyond the ADA’s mandates.

When it comes to testimonials, all dentists should be very aware that they cannot: Read More

10 Easy Ways to Make Your Dental Team Smile

Today’s guest blogger is Cathy Warschaw of www.WarschawLearningInstitute.com. Thanks, Cathy!

There is a direct link between job satisfaction rates and whether or not employees feel they are recognized or rewarded for their performance. When employees feel their hard work goes unnoticed, they can become disgruntled, frustrated and dissatisfied. This can spill over into how they treat patients and one another. Yet recognizing performance does not have to be a cumbersome or difficult task. In fact, small gestures can go a long way towards making employees feel valued and increasing the morale of an entire team.

And when the happiness quotient in your practice rises, it can have a positive impact on customer service, which enables your patients to feel more relaxed and at ease during their visits. Plus, it can elevate the entire mood of the office, making it a far more pleasant environment for patients and practitioners alike.

Here are 10 quick and easy ways you can make your dental team members smile. Best of all, none of them involves any great expense!

  1. Say a simple Thanks! A clear and genuine word of gratitude to praise a specific act can be one of the easiest ways to make an employee feel their hard work is well worth the effort. Read More

Investing in People is Investing in Business

What’s more precious, money or time? The correct answer is both. When Jill and I founded Modern Dental Practice Marketing, we decided that we would invest in people as part of our business. First, I’ll tell you what we’re doing and what we’ve learned, then I’ll give you some practical ways to get involved with– and get new patients from– your community.

MDPM is a proud sponsor of the North Texas Hispanic Dental Association, a local branch of the Hispanic Dental Association. We built and maintain the NTHDA blog, Facebook page, and newsletter. In addition, we volunteered at the NTHDA’s booth at the Southwest Dental Conference, and just last weekend, we lent a hand at Give Kids a Smile. The NTHDA is made up of a wonderful, dedicated, and very generous group of dental professionals who value people above all else.

MDPM is also involved with the North Texas Dental Association. Throughout 2011, we will publish the NTDA quarterly newsletters. We work with the North Texas Latin American Physicians Association and will soon become active in the American Academy Oral Systemic Health. Jill is looking forward to being on the board and membership committees of various philanthropic dental organizations this year, as well.

Sure, being a part of these organizations makes us feel great. We love helping people! It’s also a great investment in our business. We’re networking and building relationships with like-minded professionals who also value philanthropy.

What does this have to do with YOU? Well, let me ask you, how involved are you with your community? Sponsoring a sports team is great, but unless you go to the games and let the team (and fans) know who you are, it’s not a great investment. In this way, time is just as important as money.

There are essential marketing services you need, and your time is not required for these: website, blog, newsletter, print ads, radio, TV, etc. However, we are in Generation G, and you need to get on board. Gone are the days of writing a donation check and getting a good return in the office. Today, you have to engage, get involved, show your generosity in more ways than offering cold, hard cash.

I’ve spoken to many dentists who take on a charity dental case, but don’t advertise it. They’re afraid they’ll be inundated with people wanting free dentistry. And it can happen! Some dentists are involved in their church, but don’t allow that side of their life to cross over into their dental office. Letting people know about your generosity and volunteering should be done deliberately, but in the right way. It takes a seasoned dental marketing professional to spin it in the right way.

There is nothing wrong with being involved in the community in the name of your business. Generation G is defined by a generation of consumers who want to do business with companies that are giving and generous. If your nature is to be giving and generous, you’re one step ahead.

I want to give you a few examples of engaging with your community through giving. Read More

How to Design a Profitable Dental Practice Marketing Strategy & Effective Campaigns

You know you need a blog, a website, a Facebook page; and you probably know that you should have a newsletter and email blast campaigns, host local events, and participate in local sponsorship opportunities. You might also advertise in the newspaper or in magazines, submit press releases, or send direct mail.

Question is, which of these is profitable?
What’s the key to getting new patients,
closing bigger cases, and earning more profit?

First of all, determine what’s lucrative. Don’t keep investing in marketing projects that have little or no return. And, don’t let anyone tell you that something does not work. While I truly believe that phone book advertising is useless for most dentists, some practitioners in small communities may still see new business from a yellow pages advertisement. Likewise, newspapers across the country are filing bankruptcy, yet I still see quite a few dentists, usually those that cater to people 55 and older, who see new patients as a direct result of regular newspaper advertising.

Measuring return on investment, or ROI, can be difficult unless you ask all new patients how they heard about you, then log the information for future reference. The best way to accomplish this is by giving your front office team the tools and training to ask for and accurately record “How did you hear about us?” responses. Your records must reflect ALL new patients, and they must be maintained year after year to truly measure responses. I’ve seen new clients call businesses as a direct response to an ad that was placed over a year before. Read More

The Essential Art of Self Branding for Dentists

What is self branding? Well, it’s just what it sounds like: branding yourself.

Why do I need to brand myself? That completely depends on what you want out of your future. Some common reasons for self branding are:

  • You’re an associate dentist or partner who will go into private practice at some point.
  • You hope to become a speaker, consultant, author, or celebrity.
  • You want a personal following in case you move your practice to a new location.
  • You are a dental student who will practice with a group, as an assistant, or independently.
  • You are a professional and deserve a professional identity. Your skills are transferable, but make sure that your name is transferable, as well.

All too often, we see partnerships dissolve. Dentists who worked under a practice name move on to establish a private practice of a new name, and they have no history of publicity. No one knows who they are. Imagine being in this situation, but having 400 Facebook fans and 1000 hits on your blog each month. Now that would give you a great place to start.

It’s about being smart and staying ahead of the game. Read More

Do All Dental Website Companies Have Bad Service?

Not all do. Many, but not all.

What is bad service from a web company? It’s pretty much anything they do to frustrate, irritate, or anger you. The most common complaints are:

  • No one will return my call
  • No one will answer their phone when I call
  • No one will return my email
  • They only answer the phone when I’m working and can’t call
  • I get transferred from person to person and no one can help me
  • My requests take forever to get fulfilled, and sometimes they are never done
  • My requests are done wrong
  • People are rude on the phone
  • People get too technical and I just want my website stuff done
  • People make excuses about why something isn’t done or takes too long
  • People complain about their job, being overloaded, having too much work
  • The person in customer service has no idea what I’m asking
  • I’m getting the runaround
  • They’re rude to my employees
  • I’m overcharged and under-served

I feel your pain. I have actually worked with business owners and employees that say things like, “I’m not calling him back,” “I’ll make him wait,” and “I put my phone through to voicemail when I see his number.” (I’m leaving out the name calling and profanity.) This kind of service is not service at all, and you certainly shouldn’t pay for it. You can be treated badly for free at almost any “service” station across the country! Read More