Stop spending money on your websites. Don’t hire “professional” dental marketers. Stop Your Google Ads. Don’t pay for direct mail. Forget Facebook. Don’t do what everyone else does.
And here’s why: it doesn’t work to bring in and keep high need / high IQ patients. You’ll get bottom feeder patients who will simply look for deals, have no loyalty and will leave you once your campaign ends. Websites and direct mail, etc. have limited chance of success UNLESS they are part of an overall brand and marketing campaign. If you’re just going to do what everyone else does, then be prepared to be disappointed (and be out of pocket LOTS OF MONEY!)
Understand this: 90% of your ideal patients come from word-of-mouth referrals. Read that again. Now take a look at your marketing budget (if you have one) and DECIDE RIGHT NOW to invest in your existing patient base. And here’s how:
Step #1: Identify Your Ideal Patient Within Your Patient Base. How old? Male or Female? Single, Professional, Family? Where Do They Come From? What Language(s) Do They Speak? What’s Their Income Level? What Life Stage Are They At?
Step #2: Develop a brand that caters to your ideal patient. If you want to know more about what a brand is, read this blog and this blog too! I also HIGHLY recommend you read Contagious, Sticky Branding, and the Brand Within.
Step #3: Get Your Brand Out There. Your Brand should be both online and offline. It should be in the hands of your patients (don’t depend on REFERRALS from third parties; go direct to your ideal patient!). And not just any patients: but those who will help spread it through social dissemination (likely in person to others). I high recommend you read the Tipping Point to understand the3 types of patients who help spread brands.
Let’s look at an example, shall we?
Step #1: my ideal patient is a wedding couple about to get married. They aren’t afraid to spend money to make their smile more aesthetic before their big day. And their afraid of those pictures (which Photoshop won’t be able to correct).
Step #2: I want to make my dental office look like a banquet hall. I want a giant chandelier. Bright white everywhere. Elegant. I want my ideal patients to seem like I’m part of the wedding process. My team should be trained to help promote that brand. Using the right language when they speak to patients is so important. Having the right smell and imagery in the office is equally important. I want to show patients what they look like how their life would be significantly better by having me fix and whiten their smile (instant gratification using the language of lifestyle enhancement).
Step #3: I need to be present where wedding couples are looking. That includes trade shows, in bridal magazines, etc. I should network with other wedding professionals (photographers, banquet halls, florists, etc.). AND ONLY NOW should I spend money to promote my practice online (including Google Ads, Facebook, Websites, etc.) but keeping my brand in mind at all times. I’m not interested in targeted everyone; only wedding couples. I’m not wasting money. I’m engaging my ideal patient and niching my practice to survive and thrive in a competitive environment.
Other tips and tricks: when I’m promoting my brand, I need to show my target patients that I CARE about them; that I’m trying to solve their pain; that I’m not just trying to ‘sell’ dentistry. I need to understand what motivates them; what they’re afraid of; and what would make them want to SWITCH to my practice from all the other practices near their home / work. It may take 18 months to get the word out there that I cater to couples about to get married, but by the time I’ve invested in this niche branding, I should be on solid financial footing.
Note: this is just an EXAMPLE. You can use this example to give you ideals on how to target just about any ideal patient. Also remember to review the RCDSO guidelines on ADVERTISING and read this previous article I wrote so you don’t get into trouble. Also take a look at this article that was published about niche dental practices – are they the future?
Starting or buying a new dental practice is the easy part. Owning and operating a dental practice is an ongoing journey. But here’s the problem: they’re not going to teach you much about team or brand building in dental school. That’s why I highly recommend you read the following 8 books on Team Building and the following 8 books on Branding if you’re THINKING about starting / buying a practice or even have an EXISTING practice (it’s never too late):
I’ve put links above to blogs I’ve written that summarize key points from those books.
DIAC, the Dental Industry Association of Canada…which DMC LLP is a member of…has just obtained the results of its 18th annual “Future of Dentistry” survey. The survey, which asked a series of questions to dentists across Canada, is a valuable tool for helping understand the Canadian dental industry with a view to helping improve products and services for dental practices.
From a very cursory review of the report, it appears the top 3 challenges dentists face in their practice today are: (1) Staffing issues; (2) Financial issues (including selling the dental practice); and (3) Attracting more patients.
The fact that these three 3 issues concern dentists should not come as a surprise to those who follow our website, signed up for our weekly emails or attend the seminars we speak at as these are topics we speak about regularly…and these are also matters which DMC LLP helps dentists with on a daily basis.
Over the course of the next few weeks we will review the survey’s results and share further observations with you.
Michael Carabash of DMC LLP discusses the need for marketing and how to create a brand to go viral to the student members of Xi Psi Phi (ZIP) at U of T.
I like to think know a thing or two about websites. I have a whole bunch. And since 2008, I’ve developed strategies for building website traffic on all of them. This website, for example, received over 3,000 unique visitors (i.e. unique computers) this month (i.e. 27 days). I have another website that gets about 15,000 unique visitors every month. And in future blogs I will explain how to build up your dental practice website traffic using search engine optimization techniques.
Now, with that said, in this blog, I’m going to skip the part about building up traffic and go straight to the part about converting your existing traffic into patients. I’m assuming that prospective patients are using a search engine like Google to find a dentist or educate themselves about a dental treatment, etc. and they stumbled across your website. Now is your chance to convert them into a patient. Get them to call or email for an appointment. That’s the end game, isn’t it?
So here are some techniques that I have found very cool and useful in helping you to convert traffic into patients:
#1: Focus on your offering
If you have tons of links and information about you, your practice, your team, etc. displayed on your website, is this very focused? No. What are your ideal patients looking for? They came to you because you are in a particular location, heard good things about you and your practice, learned that you are open certain hours to accommodate them, are looking for a pleasant experience, etc. Are you focusing on what brought them to your website? Your competitive advantage?
#2: Focus on the end game
No matter how they ended up on your website, you want them to call or e-mail. That’s the end game. So you need to make that front and centre. Have a simple registration form (e.g. first name, last name, email address, phone number, comment / question, etc.). On every page. Make it prominent in colours, size, and location. That’s what your goal is, isn’t it?
#3: Focus on the Funnel
The funnel is meant to lead website users down a path where they experience your brand, get to know it a little better and then end up calling or e-mailing your office to schedule an appointment. Think about the IKDEA funnel. Once you’re sucked in, you have to see EVERYTHING before you can leave. And it works for them.
So with that in mind, think about this: if someone visited your website, would they be inundated with links that took them to places that didn’t allow you to achieve your goals? So, I discovered, for example, that on this website, many users were looking at the “Professional Advisors” tab on the top navigation menu. But they didn’t care about other tabs or images displayed on the website (e.g. Helpful Links). So I might change that around. Also, you need to know how far on a page someone goes. Finally, you need to know where people are clicking. You can use a very cool tool that I use called CrazyEgg. It basically records your website (you have to install some script on your website – which is pretty easy to do) and notes where people are clicking, scrolling down, and how they are generally using / reacting to your website. And it shows you everything in a very easy-to-understand manner.
#4: Don’t Focus on these things…
If you find that users are not scrolling all the way down, registering, or calling… why not incentivize them? I’m not talking about giving away money / gifts / coupons, but information which is cool and which they can spread (see my previous blog about the book Contagious and how to spread your brand). Dentists have a plethora of information about oral health. And there’s some good stories that go along with that information. Why not share it in a captivating way (e.g. 10 worst mouths you’ve ever seen). People are curious about what dentists do and see in their daily lives. And they are also curious about the patients and what kinds of issues they have and how they got there. Was it hereditary? Drinking too much coke? Poor oral hygiene? These types of ‘sexy’ topics will spread like a virus and help you attract a larger patient base. So share your knowledge!
#6 Using Videos
People like videos. Hence YouTube. Do you have a professional video that explains your offering? Remember to keep it less than 1 minute or you’ll lose people. There is software out there that tracks how many people are clicking on your video and how long they are watching it. Like I said, keep it short!
#7: E-mail Blasts
Are you keeping in constant contact with your patients? You have an opportunity to see your patient a few times a year. But why only that? Why not allow them to opt-in to your digital (cost-effective) email newsletter. This could be sent out monthly. It can tell them what’s new and exciting about what you’ve been up to (e.g. charitable events, changes at the office, the media you’ve been receiving, etc.). Everyone wants to go to a ‘cool’ dentist who is ‘out there, doing cool things’, don’t they?
#8: A / B Testing
Did you know that, if you’re uncertain of whether something is working, you can do a live test? But the best part is this: you don’t have to change everything. You can keep what you’ve got and then test something new on your website. What happens is that some visitors will see the original version and some visitors will see the new version. From here, you can test the results. This is called A / B or split testing. You can compare things like traffic, clicks, scrolling, conversions, etc. It’s pretty sophisticated stuff, and you might need some help in executing it. But it can increase conversions dramatically if you figure out what you should be doing right! Don’t just copy what you see others doing. It might not be working. You’ll need to plan / execute / test / adapt.
#9: Credible, Relevant and Adding Value
Every aspect of your website (from the look and feel to the text and pictures) should speak three things: credibility, relevance, and value-add. Many people don’t value going to the dentist. And they don’t trust their dentist. But you can change that. Give them free education. Make them comfortable browsing around on your website.
#10: Less is More
Think you need to have a very expansive website with tons of information? Nope. The information is meant to draw patients in. It should be targeted based on your offering. Once they’re in, you need to funnel them to the end goal. Don’t clutter your page with too many links, images, buttons, and other places to go. Reduce, reduce, reduce. Keep it as simple as possible and you will be amazed that prospective patients may have no place else to go but pick up the phone, e-mail or register on their own.
David Mayzel is your legal risk manager. He is a trained courtroom lawyer and has spent many years resolving disputes both in and out of court. He knows how to prepare documents and execute transactions in a way that avoids or mitigates legal risks. He can be reached at 416.528.5280. or email@example.com.
Michael Carabash is your business law adviser. He is an entrepreneur at heart who helps you see the big legal picture. He drafts clear and effective agreements that protect your rights while promoting your interests. He can be reached at 647.680.9530. or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ljubica Durlovska is your transition lawyer. She helps you with staff and associates, maintaining your corporation, and other business matters. She can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 206 or email@example.com.
Jonathan Borrelli is your employment lawyer. He helps you with staff and associates matters, including hirings, terminations, switching staff to written contracts and resolving disputes. He can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benjamin Kong is an experienced business law clerk. He assists David and Michael with corporate matters and purchase / sale transactions. He can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 207 or email@example.com.
Julie Whitehouse is an experienced business law clerk. She assists David and Michael with corporate matters and purchase / sale transactions. She can be reached at 416.443.9280, extension 203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
David, Michael, Ljubica, Jonathan, Ben and Julie are a truly dynamic team. Their diverse knowledge, skills, and experiences will help you get the best deal possible while promoting your interests and protecting your rights. You can read dentist testimonials here.