We are fast approaching National Smile Month (20th May – 20th June), always a great opportunity for dental practices and referral centres to add some momentum to their patient communications and provide valuable oral health information, advice and tips.
Involvement with National Smile Month enables dental practices to raise their profile through well targeted PR activity, advertorials and their ‘internal marketing’ (newsletters, waiting area literature, posters, etc)
As an agency dedicated solely to the dental industry, we are naturally joining in with Smile Month too, not only by helping our clients with their PR and internal marketing but also launching our new consultancy retainer package which includes payment by results. Yes, it’s unheard of isn’t it? We’ll be including a proportion of our fees based on forecasted results, pre-agreed with clients. Whether new patient enquiries, appointments, practice income or bottom-line performance, we’ll work closely with dental practices and businesses, on a strategic and tactical level, to ensure they receive the return on investment they require.
With clear business and marketing planning, we are confident we can help improve practice performance. The excellent feedback we have had from award winning clients gives us the confidence to be flexible with our fees.
To find out more, contact us.
It’s now commonplace to think that direct mail has been replaced by email marketing. Why? As email is quicker, less expensive and more ‘modern’, you hear people say “snail mail” or “I can’t afford postage anymore” and other phrases to justify their decision not to use direct mail.
But let’s examine a few things. Ask yourself which is the most cluttered, your email inbox or your doormat? I receive over 100 emails per day and I don’t open then all. Like most people, I do a quick ‘sift’, so not everything is read, or even noticed unless it has an exceptional message. On the other hand, I receive around one or two pieces of direct mail per day, excluding bills! Each one gets noticed at least and if it is relevant or exciting, I read it. Direct mail can still get a fantastic response, if well targeted and relevant to the recipient.
The Internet and email have been ‘hardwired’ into our psyche. After all, most people are online and rightly so because great email marketing and a web presence are a ‘given’ for any business, whether a dental practice, dental supplies company, law firm specialising in dental transactions or other business serving the dental sector.
The truth is, it’s good to mix things up. Email marketing is important, as is a spread of media, tested and measured. A great marketing plan should include email marketing but it should include direct mail as well. Are you testing it within your recall programme? If you are an orthodontic practice or an implant referral centre targeting GDPs, are you sending personal invites for your training events or ‘study club’ sessions? If you are a general practice with patients spending regular, hard-earned income with you, are you sending them ‘thank you’ cards.
In our team, we have experienced marketers who ‘cut their cloth’ in direct marketing – direct mail and email marketing - and know how best to ensure you maximise your response, that is, patient enquiries and, of course, appointments.
In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be taking you through what makes a great mail shot and the 10 easy steps to a perfect direct mail campaign. For a quick chat about how to improve the return on investment from your direct mail activity, contact us.
For some dental practices and other businesses, having a marketing budget can be too limiting. Whilst business planning and close financial control are vital, dispensing with the idea of a fixed marketing budget represents a fundamental change of thinking. Firstly, it starts with thinking of marketing as an investment, not a cost. That’s a mindset change.
So what is the alternative to setting a fixed marketing budget? Start by calculating the ‘lifetime value’ of your patients or customers, say over 3 years. Whether it’s a patient coming in regularly for routine treatment or a patient that has had some cosmetic work, braces or root canal treatment, practices should be able to calculate patient value over a period of time.
Then it’s a case of working out what you are prepared to spend to win each new patient or referral. There are many industry stats banded around about the cost of acquiring new patients e.g. £70 for a private patient, £290 for an orthodontic case, £380 for a dental implant case and so on.
So if a patient is worth say £5k over the next 3 years, are you prepared to spend £250 for a new patient of that type, or more or less than that? It’s all about setting return on investment targets for marketing activity, whether a practice rebrand, poster campaign promoting dental implants, a specific ‘Whitening Wednesdays’ campaign or a patient open day being organised at the practice. It’s also about measuring what’s working best, on an ongoing basis.
There are several benefits of this approach. It encourages dental practices to analyse their patient list/database. This doesn’t get done nearly enough. It helps them to identify their most profitable patients, the good old 80:20 rule. It also allows them to think about whether they are targeting the right patients or referrals for their practice. Last but not least, a crucial benefit of this approach is discovering whether the most appropriate media is being used to maximise return in investnent.
For alternative ways to look at improving profitability, contact us on 0845 287 3051.
Great marketing should be measurable shouldn’t it? At least if at all possible, and virtually all forms of marketing can be measured. It’s astonishing how many times I discover dental practices, in fact many types of business, that are not monitoring their marketing activity, whether it’s external media, on-line activity or ‘internal marketing’.
Yet with simple monitoring processes in place and a team motivated to understand the importance of looking at what is working well and the marketing activity isn’t pulling its weight, practices can save a fortune.
Hundreds and often thousands of pounds can be saved by understanding best practice dental marketing and having a solid, measurable plan in place. It’s not unusual for us to save practice owners more than they pay in our fees….and they are also receiving a marketing plan, new ideas and tried and tested marketing techniques as well as having the burden of media liaison, booking and paperwork taken away. This of course is highly valuable, saving lots of practice time, whether for the practice principal, practice manager or other persons responsible for bringing in new patients and maximising practice income.
In our quest to help dental practices measure their marketing and save money in 2013, it can all start with an initial chat on the phone about our Dental Marketing Healthcheck. Find out more by contacting us on 0845 287 3051.
Once you have decided to embark on some local PR for your practice, you need to think about how to get the press excited, and that means news that the editor thinks will benefit readers.
Just announcing your news isn’t enough. The launch of your new treatment or the additional clinician at your practice may be news to you, but to a reporter or editor, who has to read hundreds of releases about new products and services, it’s not likely to be interesting news. Therefore, it may find it’s way quickly to the bin.
Suppose as an Ortho practice you’ve just added lingual braces to your brace treatment options and as part of the launch you’ve decided to offer patients a free initial consultation. You won’t drum up much interest if your headline reads “orthodontic practice launches invisible braces” and your first paragraph reads “(named) practice, based in (place) is now offering invisible braces. As part of the launch, the practice is offering a free initial consultation……”
You’re more likely to get interest and get a story written about you by changing your headline and first paragraph to focus on the offer and what’s in it for readers. For instance the headline might read: “free consultation offer for adults seeking invisible braces”. The first paragaph could say something like: “For adults who’d prefer a discrete brace option, (named) practice, based in (place) is now offering the latest in invisible braces. As part of the launch, the practice is offering a free initial consultation……”
Before you start writing the release, do choose the angle (what’s interesting about your news) to use . If you will be sending your release to various media (local newspapers, dental press, local radio and TV stations, your contacts, etc.) you may have to use different angles for the different media.
In our next Blog, we’ll focus on some more practical tips for “hooking” the editor and convincing him/her there is something in the rest of the release that will be worth publishing.
When you have some great new news for your practice or specialist referral centre, the challenge is to get your press release noticed by busy editors. The real breakthrough to getting media attention is to stimulate the editor’s interest in your message, that is, make the editor who receives your release think “Here is something that will interest my readers.”
So what does interest editors and their readers about a dental practice? Your release should contain actual “news” about yourself, your treatments or services, your practice, or personnel in your practice. But it has to be “news” that other people will want to know about or need to know about. Information that qualifies as news (depending on whether it for your local press or dental publications) may include announcements about:
- Launch of a new treatment
- Opening of a new practice
- Awards you or your practice have won
- “Firsts” (e.g., first to offer a particular service e.g. saturday opening, early morning appointments, 0% finance in your area
- Charity events your practice is sponsoring
- Winners of a contest you’ve sponsored
- Free seminars you are offering e.g. clinical, other CPD
- Free patient “goodie bag” as part of a Smile Month offering
- Results or a survey your practice has conducted
- Opening of a new business
- Donations you’ve made to a charity / non-profit group
Once you are clear on the reasons for the announcement, your ‘angle’, the next task is to draft a press release but always with exciting the readers in mind. Our next Blog will be how to write a press release that resonates with both editors and prospective patients.
For help with a PR strategy, contact us.
When I first embarked on a marketing career 25 years ago, it soon became apparent that direct response marketing was a crucial component of most businesses; that is to test, measure and ensure that your marketing activities are judged in terms of return on investment. Measurable marketing has moved on a lot of course, with the Internet, e-Newsletters and social media all adding to the range of media that can be measured accurately and instantly.
Also, Search Engine Optimisation and Pay Per Click (Google Adwords) are tried and trusted for driving people to your website and Blogs like this help to drive enquiries and traffic to your website but some of these new techniques are even more targeted.
Re-Marketing or Re-Targeting as it is often known, allows you to keep communicating to the people who visit your website but who leave without calling you or leaving their details. This is used extensively by property search sites and houses you have checked out follow you around the web. By the same token, for dental practices this is an opportunity to cost effectively win high value patients, those that are perhaps researching on-line a specialist treatment they are considering, whether dental implants, lingual braces or root canal therapy. It’s a great breakthrough, highly measurable and can be tested by small and large practices alike. For the full range of web-based opportunities, contact us.
In our next Blog, I’ll be talking about targeted banner display advertising which is an incredibly powerful way of attracting people to your website but is little known within the dental profession.
When trying to build a referral base, the tempation for orthodontists, endodontists, implant clinics and other referral centres is to host an event and have it centred around learning and offering CPD. This can be invaluable of course but there are a multitude of other ‘relationship builders’.
The main consideration is to make sure that any event reflects your practice brand ‘personality’ and is memorable so that those you target want to tell someone about it. In our experience, ideas for events and building rapport with GDPs often stem from patients, local businesses talking about marketing activities that have worked for them or simply your team brainstorming some ideas.
A taste of some ideas that have worked well include:
Get to know your local GDP receptionists. Her power cannot be underestimated and she probably refers as many patients from the practice as the dentists there! It is important to know your referring staff as they are often giving out the brochures and a little thank you card will always be appreciated. It may even be sitting behind reception in front of her when the next patient comes out to enquire about orthodontics, implants or whatever your specialism is…..and voila, your brochure handed out.
Not the obvious dentist night out but a new local Swiss trained chocolatier held a tasting quiz and the dental practice supplied a bottle of logo’d champagne as a prize. It was a full house!
Sending something memorable especially if not expected. If your nurses do some training at another practice, why not send a thank you. Maybe a nice card or what about some cakes from a local shop. Yes, goodies again!
In recognition of its rapidly growing client base in the dental sector, Smile Marketing is looking for marketing professionals to join the team as regional associates in the business. The positions they are looking to fill are for the Midlands, East Anglia, North East, South Coast, Scotland and Wales. The agency already has associates in London/South East, South West and the North West.
The agency offers a full range of marketing services to include business audits, marketing planning, branding, welcome packs, referral packs, clinician and practice PR, patient recruitment campaigns as well as dental websites and social media strategy & social media training. Smile Marketing also delivers marketing workshops for practice managers and staff and a weekly marketing clinic. Offering either retainer-based or project-based packages, the company’s flexible approach to helping practices is proving to be very popular.
Founder Steve Davey commented: “Since the launch of Smile Marketing 3 years ago, interest from dentists, orthodontists, endodontists, implantologists, CDTs and other specialists has been fantastic and is very encouraging. The dental industry has become increasingly competitive and guiding Principals and Practice Managers to become more self-sufficient and targeted with their marketing has proved to be a real ‘win win’.
He added “With the constant changes in this sector, the uncertainty of the NHS and the corporates continuing to acquire practices, the need for professional support from creative, dental-savvy marketers can only increase. Dentists want advice and guidance from people who know the industry inside out and understand their issues and that’s where we fit in”
For more information, contact 0845 287 3051 or email email@example.com.
Recently I was with a new client, and I was reviewing his recall and sales letters. They were, to be frank, similar to many letters I have seen from other dental practices - matter of fact, a bit cold and lacking any warmth and personality. There was no headline, no call to action and the copy didn’t flow. However, my main concern was that letters were just not going out regularly enough, if at all.
As with dental websites, which are often “under construction” for too long in order to make them “word perfect”, sales letters are not being sent to patients or lapsed patients and this undoubtedly damages the business. It means lost patients.
So why are recall letters not being sent? Too much tweaking and editing certainly delays things and a lack of process and responsibility for getting it done, on time, every time, is another reason.
But our client is not alone, is he?
So what holds people back? Concerns… doubts…..will it or won’t it work? … the fear of failure… that’s always a big one. Or simply “finding the time”? The biggest obstacle, I believe, is getting started. Sometimes it’s important to realise that good is good enough. It doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to get done!
I have met many practice owners over the years – at all stages of life – and one of the key factors that separates the successful from the not so successful, is the ability to pragmatically get things done.
So, get that recall letter written, get your treatment promotions designed and launch or relaunch your website . Make a start.