5.31.13 Issue #586 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Three Marketing Must-Haves for Every Practice
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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How do new patients come to choose your practice over another? What separates your practice from the one down the street? Until the time in which they need a dentist, new patients aren’t giving you or your practice much thought. But when they do begin their search, will they find you quickly and easily? How will your practice penetrate the noise generated by every other practice in your area?

As you’ve likely discovered, drawing new patients into your practice is a little different than attracting new customers to Best Buy or Walgreens. Traditional marketing approaches, such as a smattering of ads, aren’t effective or economical over the long-term. And, I’m sorry to say, there are no “silver bullets” that will guarantee success if you just “do this” - whatever “this” new trend might be on any given day. Keeping current and prospective patients flocking to your doors requires effort that goes well beyond a one-time ad, a clever pitch, or simply creating a Facebook page. Although there are multiple components to effective new patient marketing, I consider these three to be essential to a solid marketing foundation. 

#1 Consider your Brand
This is the identity of the practice. It is the logo or visual image that is unique to your office. It conveys to the public that this is your dental practice. Along with the logo and name for your office are the other fundamentals that will be consistently used as part of its image, including the colors and fonts that are chosen as part of the name and logo. The objective is to design a look and use it consistently. But beyond the “look” of your brand is the feel. How do current patients feel about your practice? Is it a place they happily refer friends and family to, or do they have reservations? Is your “brand” excellent or average?

#2 Practice Website
You must have a good practice website - not just any practice website. This is the foundation for establishing and building a marketing presence online or eMarketing. A website works for your practice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Before you can be trending on Twitter, you must have a virtual storefront. Many consumers will visit your website prior to calling your office, so you should have a website that not only looks professional, but also provides a good user experience.
Additionally, websites require professional design to ensure that they are fully optimized for all digital devices and can drive traffic to your site. It may be tempting to have your nephew, tech savvy as he may be, design your website. You want to save a few bucks - don’t we all. I guarantee that unless he is a professional website designer, you will waste valuable time, money, and patient traffic. Invest in a design that is unique to your practice, not a template, and make sure that you will own the domain name.

#3 Make Marketing Part of your Budget
Marketing dollars are as important, if not more important, than many other practice expenditures because they bring in the patients that pay for everything else. High-tech equipment alone will not bring in patients, unless they know that the dentist has it. And that requires marketing. A beautiful office will not be seen by very many people unless those in the community know that this is a beautiful state-of-the-art office, and that requires marketing. You may use the very best equipment and materials; you may be among the few to offer specific services, but that won’t bring patients to your door. It is marketing that brings in the patients. And it is patients that keep the practice going.

Marketing can be thought of as an invitation to a party. No matter how great a party is, if no one knows about it, it will be a bust. Successful dentists realize the great return on investment that marketing can yield, and they budget significant funds to invest in marketing. How much is enough? For startup practices or practices wanting to market and grow aggressively, 6-10% of projected production should be allocated for marketing. For established practices, 3-4% for marketing maintenance and 6-10% for growth of projected production should be allocated.

Marketing is an investment in the success of your practice. If you cut the marketing budget or have an insufficient budget, you are cutting the flow of patients to your practice. Without patients there is no practice, plain and simple.

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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