Marketing gurus and pundits abound, and even sales people add to the mix with their 2 cents. In amongst the abundance of opinions there are some factors more important than others.
Here is a summary of a talk we gave recently to dentists at a convention in Las Vegas. I hope this will give you some basic guidelines on how to approach your marketing.
Marketing For High Production Cases
There are three main steps to marketing:
1. Intelligence gathering: market research and surveys.
2. Creating marketing items (websites, ads, direct mail, etc.) that will resonate with a target audience that has been identified.
3. Getting these items in front of people via search engine optimization, pay-per-click, mail, radio, TV, etc.
Most dental marketing companies just focus on number 3. Yet sound, successful marketing occurs when all three are done in sequence.
To give an example. Company A tells Dentist B that he needs to be on the first page of Google. This is in fact a good idea, but what often happens is that Company A throws up a template website that doesn’t have any of the important factors of marketing and as a result ends up generating few to no new patients.
In other words, it doesn’t have the requisite factors that will attract and interest the website visitor and give him or her an incentive to make an appointment with that practice.
What constitutes a template website? Well, you’ve all seen them:
- Mostly stock photos
- Generic text about procedures that could be found on informational websites, such as WebMD® and ADA’s website.
- Little to no personalization
What’s wrong with that, you might ask? It’s probably more about what such a website is missing, and this can be summed up as missing most of the important elements of marketing. Take a look at any website made by a company that knows the basic rules of marketing, like Apple or BMW. These companies have done their homework (Step 1) and have built compelling websites using marketing technology (Step 2).
What is this marketing technology? Here are some marketing techniques that needed to be included for marketing to be really successful:
- The use of Hot Buttons in the text. These are the phrases found through market research surveys that create a resonance with a target audience. E.g. “The ultimate driving machine” for BMW or “Save money. Live better.” for Walmart.
- Photos of the practice and photos of real patients. This gives the person reading the marketing piece/website a preliminary look into the practice. For even more marketing sophistication, the photos follow along with the hot buttons.
- Personalized text (known as “copy” in marketing). When a prospective patient is looking for a dentist they mostly want to know that they are making the right choice in a dentist. This is particularly true for patients looking for more extensive procedures, such as dental implants and cosmetic dentistry. It’s the job of the website or marketing piece to convince them that its office is the right one to go to.
- Third-party endorsements. People want to see validation of the dentist in the form of patient and peer testimonials.
- Special offers. Everyone in direct marketing knows that offers are a vital part of marketing, but in dental marketing these are usually ignored or badly done. For example, cleaning offers usually result in a person only getting cleaning, and not in signing up for more extensive treatment. It’s important to have the right offer that will interest your target audience and will result in patients who sign up for the treatment they need.
- Attractive design that forwards the image the dentist wants to give.
Rule of thumb
There’s a rule of thumb we operate with when marketing for dentists who want to deliver a lot of high-production cases: the more they want to attract patients who need extensive work, the more they have to use actual marketing technology (as outlined above).
A simple website or postcard with a cheap offer might get you new patients, but they are unlikely to get you the number of high-production cases you would like.
What about Step 3?
Step 3, getting the marketing item in front of people, is also very important, once you have steps 1 and 2 properly done. Now your Internet advertising and search engine optimization have a better chance of working the way you want them to. Now your other marketing has a better chance of working, too.
But even Step 3 has its marketing technology, as we are now into how to best reach target markets. As Google Certified Partners, we know how to help our clients make the most of their websites and as long-term marketers, we know which other marketing avenues will best suit a client.
For our clients who want to attract the high-production cases, we have found that what works the best is a good website with good Internet marketing along with good print marketing that is distributed where our client’s target market is likely to see it.