9.2.11 Issue #495 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter
 

What's the Real Reason Marketing isn't Working for Your Practice?
by Sally McKenzie CEO

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The sign outside next to the street says “Dentist.” The waiting room is papered in country blue and pink with birdhouses stamped along a border. It was a look wildly popular in 1988. The plastic vinyl chairs have seen their share of wear and tear that comes with years of use. Pages are torn out of the magazines and most are two or three months old.

The doctor would like to market his practice as a state-of-the-art office, yet the entrance to the place screams old, dated, and worst of all - mediocre. And it doesn’t stop there. The carpet in the hall leading to the treatment room is worn and frayed. Sitting in the dental chair, the ceiling tiles are stained and dirty. When I ask the doctor if he plans to address the “look” of the practice, he proudly tells me that all of the treatment rooms were painted in the last year. Ah yes, nothing like putting a little lipstick on a pig. “What we need to market,” he emphasizes, “is my new CEREC machine. That’s what the patients care about.”

It is the classic example of a doctor who believes that marketing is a special promotion, a one-time event, an advertising blitz. Yet he is surprised when new patients don’t respond as expected. They come once and don’t return. He says the marketing campaign didn’t work, yet refuses to consider the real marketing messages the practice sends that go well beyond the singular message he intended.

I have watched dentist after dentist throw thousands of dollars into so-called “marketing campaigns,” convinced that this one will bring in all the patients they need. It’s the “silver bullet,” the answer to all of their struggles. The campaign kicks off. The mailers are sent, the ads are placed, the special offers are promoted, the radio jingles are playing, and, yes, the phone is ringing. The schedule is full. Ninety days later, it’s over and so is the rush of new patients.
 
What happened? Was the campaign really a waste of money? Why are there holes in the schedule again? Who’s responsible for this disaster? Who, what, why - many questions and concerns arise when lots of money is spent and limited return is achieved. I have a word of advice for you – STOP.

Stop looking at marketing as a one-time external event. Marketing is taking place in every interaction with every patient. It is what happens when your business staff answers the phone. It is what takes place when you explain a procedure to a patient. It is in the layer of grime on your front door that no one on staff notices because they’re always going in and out the back. Marketing is the small stuff and the big stuff. It is the “whole package.”

When your “campaign” doesn’t yield the results that you want, look around your practice and ask yourself a few simple questions: Did you deliver what you promised - state-of-the-art facilities, superior service, etc? Did you prepare your team? Did you prepare your practice? Did you prepare yourself?

Case in point: “Dr. Bassett” wanted to generate more new patient activity in her practice. She had made all the arrangements with a dental marketing company and was paying a hefty price for their services. She felt confident that the effort would pay off. The company representatives had suggested that the employees go through a short training session to help them prepare for the increased calls and patient activity. Dr. Bassett was confident that her team would do great. As far as she was concerned they just needed to do what they always did. What would be the point of training, she wondered.

The promotion was launched a week later. Dr. Bassett could hear the phones ringing away. She was convinced that the campaign was a success. What she couldn’t hear was the number of times that the caller went into voicemail because staff were either away from the desk, on break, at lunch, or busy taking care of “more important” tasks to answer it. Nor did she hear the employee responses to prospective patient questions - “We can’t do that.” “You want to come in when?” “We don’t take that insurance.” “I really don’t know anything about the procedures. I just answer the phone.” 

Next week: what Dr. Bassett and every other dentist should consider before they invest in that so-called “silver bullet” marketing campaign.

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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