04.24.09 Issue #372 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

By Howie Horrocks and Mark Dilatush
New Patients. Inc.
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Consistent Marketing = Consistent Results

Thinking of reducing your marketing during this recession? While it’s smart to reduce expenses, cutting outreach to your target market is like cutting back on air while you’re drowning.  What happens when you don’t market? Well, not much! In fact, nothing of a revenue consequence happens in a dental office until the phone rings. It is a fact that many practice’s phones aren’t ringing as much as they were a year ago, but without marketing they’d be ringing even less today.

Here is some real world advice from dentists we know who are doing well right now:

  • Keep marketing but change the focus. Be more inclusive. You don’t want to be the practice that’s only interested in celebrities, CEOs and FMRs. You need a broad appeal. You need a family appeal. Now is not the time to micro-niche your practice.
  • Convenient hours. 8 – 4 Monday -Thursday is only convenient for you. Patients who are worried about their jobs are nervous about taking time off work. And having to take the kids out of school? Not convenient. Consider every other Saturday hours, or Friday hours, or early morning or evening hours. Yes, it’s a pain but in a recession we all need to work harder and smarter.
  • Emergencies are good. Yes, they mess up your schedule but figure how to squeeze them in somehow. People who put off dental care are emergencies waiting to happen. Take care of them, they’ll love you and come back. You will also make unexpected and unplanned money.
  • We Love Kids. Parents will neglect themselves but will spend their last dime on their kids. You can still refer the youngest and difficult to the pediatric dentist but if Mom thinks you won’t take her kids she won’t even call. If she calls you first, you can control it. Kids are recession resistant and will give you a great chance at getting Mom and Dad in the future.
  • Financing options. You’re going to have to work with your patients during this recession. Don’t be a doormat but do look for ways to make it easier for them to manage the cost of treatment. Offering a no interest payment plan will make you a lot more popular these days.
  • Consider lowering your fees for some services. If you lower fees for some of your higher margin services you won’t get hurt and it will show that you’re trying to help. We’re not suggesting you give away the farm or advertise yourself as a ‘cheap’ dentist. Just let people know you understand their economic plight and you want to help them by temporarily reducing some fees to make it easier for them.
  • Don’t risk marketing dollars on experimental approaches. Like diving into TV advertising when you’ve never done it before and have not first laid the groundwork with other less costly marketing. Stick with tried and true approaches like direct mail, newspaper inserts and most especially your website.
  • Internal marketing = less risk. There are companies who can help you with email and text reminders, or snail mail newsletters or simple one page letters regularly sent to the patient base. Marketing to people who have already given you money poses the least risk.
  • Add service and value. Things like Rod Kurthy’s KoR Bleaching www.korwhitening.com or Ryan Swain’s 6 month braces www.6monthsmiles.com. These are short learning curves and you can be up and running in very little time. Take an endo course and refer out fewer cases. Our buddy Kit Weathers teaches his Endo Root Camp at LVI www.lviglobal.com but there are many other good endo courses out there as well.
  • Dentures. Yeah, you hate them but they can be very profitable. The highest profit margin services in a dental practice are: endo, ortho and dentures. Consider it.

Recession marketing
We personally know a bunch of MBAs. Of our three most favorite, two are on the New Patients, Inc. team and the other is our friend Howard Farran, who is both a dentist and an MBA. They all say the same thing - in a recession you take these steps:  Put a freeze on hiring. If you can at all, lower your fees (at least some of your fees). Double your marketing budget. Keep marketing consistently.
These are precisely what the companies who survived (and even thrived) during the last recession did.

Mr. Horrocks is Founder and CEO of New Patients, Inc. He is the author of two dental bestsellers, Unlimited New Patients, Volumes One and Two. His agency produces advertising campaigns for private dental practices all over the US and Canada. For more information call (866) 336-8237 or on the web at www.newpatientsinc.com
Mr. Dilatush is the Vice President of New Patients, Inc. He has a unique combined background in dental technology, dental practice management, practice marketing, and dental business analytics, which was built over the past 23 years in dentistry. He and his team are responsible for building client marketing plans that pose the least risk to client marketing budgets with the highest potential return.

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