Why Practice Advertising Fails
So you recently decided to create a Facebook page for your practice. You are convinced that it will be the turning point. The phones will be ringing, the patients will be lined up and signing on for treatment, and you will be smiling all the way to the bank. Until you realize the phones are not ringing. The schedule isn’t brimming with patients. And you’re not smiling.
It’s easy to get caught up in the lure of what seems to be a “quick fix” to your marketing challenges. But the thing about marketing is that while various tools, techniques, and mediums offer multiple opportunities to connect and share information with your current and prospective patients, not one of them is a guarantee to higher profits. Rather, it’s the rock-solid steady plan implemented over time that will yield the greatest long-term results.
You see, marketing isn’t any single activity. It’s more than an open house for your patients. It’s more than a Facebook page, or a blog, or an ad, or a logo, or a jingle, or a tweet. In fact, it’s all of those and so much more.
While many dentists will fret and worry about where they should invest their limited advertising dollars, in actuality the external marketing is merely frosting on the cake that is your total marketing effort. Certainly, you need it. But what keeps patients returning and new patients calling is the blockbuster internal marketing plan that is carefully executed. Yet time and again, dentists never consider this fundamental step. They invest thousands in external advertising initiatives only to have them utterly destroyed by untrained and ill-prepared staff.
Your most effective – or disastrous – marketing is taking place in those seemingly inconsequential exchanges between your staff and your patients. However, very few dentists ever consider that. They simply assume that patient/customer service is either excellent or pretty darn good, until they pull back the curtain. When they are ready to remove the veil, they start to pay attention to the exchanges that are occurring between patients and staff. Such as …
How easy or difficult is it for patients to secure treatment financing? Do you offer CareCredit? Is the focus more on making sure the patients know “the rules” of the practice, or emphasizing that you and your team are thankful they chose your practice and are happy to help them receive the treatment they need and want?
How often are staff reinforcing the value of care? Are they bending the patient’s ear about their personal problems or talking about the latest CE that you have completed and what that means to the patient sitting in the chair?
How well are these ambassadors of your practice carrying out their responsibilities in representing your mission and vision for your business? Are staff conflicts and turf wars wearing on your patient relations, and most importantly, on your overall patient retention?
And finally, if you ask the tough questions what are your honest responses? If I were a patient, is this how I would want to be treated? Would I feel good about coming here and recommending my friends and family?
Although we’ve known for years that excellent customer service is the central ingredient in building and maintaining a successful business, weak or poor patient/practice interactions continue to plague dental offices driving patients away. Why? Dentists, like other service providers, simply assume that staff are handling patient exchanges effectively and the promises that they profess in their marketing are being upheld.
For example, offices will advertise that patients have minimal wait time, only to leave them sitting for 30 minutes. They claim to have “friendly and helpful staff” yet give little attention to what the words “friendly and helpful” mean to the patient. They declare that they are state-of-the-art because they use digital imaging or CEREC, but they give little attention to the dated décor and fraying carpet.
Make sure that the messages you send externally are backed up internally. Does the patient experience live up to what you’ve promised in your slick campaign? Certainly, well-executed marketing will get the phones ringing, but whether the patient makes the appointment, proceeds with treatment and becomes a long-term loyal advocate of your practice will be directly influenced by what happens after they’ve been lured in by your catchy promotion.
In the end, it’s their interaction with you and your staff that will dictate whether they return, not that clever ad or latest Facebook post.
Interested in speaking to Gene about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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