Referrals – it’s not all about CPD

The standard tactic for orthodontists, endodontists, implantologists and other specialists trying to build a referral base is to host an event based on learning and offering CPD.

To ensure events are a success, it really is important that your event reflects your practice brand and values. It’s worth brainstorming ideas with the team so the event is memorable and potential referring dentists feel it was not only a good use of their time but was also enjoyable.

After all, it’s about building relationships and events can be a great springboard for these to develop – IF they are carefully thought through.

But your event doesn’t have to involve CPD. In fact some of the most memorable events we have organised or attended are not educational at all.

Other tactics that have worked well for our clients include:

Get to know practice managers & receptionists in referring dentists. Their influence cannot be underestimated – they probably refer as many patients as the dentists!

Ensure your staff know what to tell your potential referrers – and a little thank you card will always be appreciated.

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Sponsor: Not the obvious dentist night out but a new local chocolatier held a tasting quiz and our client supplied a bottle of logo’d champagne as a prize. It was a full house!

Memorable: If your nurses do some training at another practice, why not send a thank you. A nice card and some cakes from a local shop for example. Yes, goodies again!

For other great marketing initiatives to build referrals, call 0845 287 3051 or contact us.

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Marketing Your Practice

The Personal Touch

No two practices are the same! They are a unique combination of your brand, range of treatments, premises, locations, what your patients are like and the personalities of your staff.

Your practice is one of a kind.

So why should your marketing be any different? We’ll talk through what you’d like to achieve and how to get there, creating a unique proposal especially for you.

As a full service agency we don’t just offer marketing, we can help your business grow with new revenue streams. Our recent initiative (initially for practices in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset) is to offer our clients* up to £3,000 worth of clinical training at multi-award-winning Devon Dental Centre of Excellence, one of the leading specialist referral centres in the South West.

If you’re thinking of offering dental implants, this is your opportunity to team up with a renowned Implantologist who has placed well over 1,000 implants. Restorative training consists of 6 monthly sessions and includes “live observation” of real cases using state-of-the-art technology at Devon Dental in Ashburton, just off the A38 between Exeter and Plymouth.

For more information on marketing and FREE* restorative training call us on 0845 287 3051.

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*subject to terms and conditions

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Patient Retention: Are You Losing Them?

Finding it hard to attract new patients cost effectively? Many practices are, if this includes you then it’s crucial that your dental practice has patient retention initiatives in place. Various Clients Printed Material First you need to divide your patient list into:

  • Patients: had treatment in the last year
  • Dormants: last visit 1-2 years ago
  • Lapsed Patients: 2 years+, you’re well and truly off their radar!

To encourage patients back in for an appointment you can use reactivation and recall, it’s not as complicated as it sounds! Here’s a few insights from our experience:

  1. What you write, email or text your patients should be different according to which segment they’re in.
  2. Contact dormants with meaningful updates (new treatments, practice news, birthday card, voucher – whatever it takes to gain an appointment) this will definitely bring patients in.
  3. Don’t give up on lapsed patients. Test trying to win them back and by test I mean, take a sample, say 50 or 100, and contact them then measure your reactivation activity(calls, letters, emails) and see what works best.
  4. Contact your patients regularly. Maintain and build your relationship with them. After all, a happy patient is an advocate and a source of referrals for your practice

Case Study

Patients from your own database are always the easiest route to fee income for your dental practice. For a review of your patient management policies and procedures, contact us.

Here’s more information on patients retention and patient recall.

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Our Award Winning Clients!

Clients Devon Dental Centre of Excellence and sister practice, Plymouth Dental Centre of Excellence (Craniomandibular Clinics Ltd), are celebrating winning the respected ‘Dental Awards 2014’ ‘Team of the Year for the South’ for the second year in a row!

The Dental Awards, an opportunity to showcase “the best in the dental profession”, took place on Friday 6th June 2014 to celebrate at the glittering, black-tie ceremony, taking place at the exclusive Lancaster London Hotel.

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Both Devon Dental and Plymouth Dental have undergone an extensive investment programme of modernisation and re-development over recent years. They offer a highly impressive level of clinical expertise, specialist treatments and the outstanding patient care you’d expect from ‘back-to-back’ award winning practices.

For help in moving your practice towards award-winning status, contact us on 0845 287 3051 for your FREE, no obligation Marketing Healthcheck.

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Kick Start Your Outdoor Media

Marketing in the “digital age” isn’t just about email, texts and social media. A recent campaign for a dental practice promoting implants achieved a three fold ROI (return on investment) within one week of  a six-sheet bus shelter poster campaign.

You are of course building awareness, but the real acid test is the response – in this instance, high value cases. The keys to success are:

Capture

  • Position: sites where heavy traffic is always slow moving
  • Creative: simple designs that stand-out
  • BIG call-to-action: telephone number and web address – Call us now!

Of course, mentioning when the posters are going up in a Tweet or Facebook post won’t do any harm!

Call Smile Marketing on 0845 287 3051 or email us and we’ll help you achieve your goals.

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Are marketing budgets now out of date?

Private dental practices, like many types of business, have traditionally set a marketing budget for say 12 months, if they have money reserved for patient recruitment and internal marketing at all.  But putting a sum aside for marketing is really coming at it from the wrong starting point. The starting point is looking at the notion of buying patients.

The key question is: “how much am I prepared to pay for a new patient?”. If it’s a dental implant case worth say £2k, are you prepared to pay £100 for that patient, or £200 or £250?  For general patients, who start with a £50 or £75 consultation and then go on to become a regular over 3 – 5 years, what are those patients worth to you and how much are you prepared to invest in each one?

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The point of this is that once you have worked out those numbers, it’s easier to determine the best strategies for finding those patients, the media to use and the return on investment to plan for. And as new patients or referrals come into your practice, you can decide whether to increase or decrease the numbers of patients you are buying.

With this change in mindset, there’s a much clearer focus on what you are looking to achieve from any marketing investment and really helps practices to avoid making costly mistakes.

If this approach appeals to you, contact us for an initial chat about finding more patients for your practice.

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The Power of Dental Branding

You may wonder what relevance branding has to a dental practice, I mean it works for Disney and Google, but how can it be applied to your dental practice?

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Firstly it is appreciating what a brand is – it’s a set of associations that people make with a company, product or service. Branding is the way organisations harness, generate and control these associations in order to improve their business.

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Having a brand for your practice will create a difference in people’s minds between you and your competition, whether that be for patients locally or potential referring GDPs.

A brand adds value to your practice and people see a well branded service as better quality, so worth paying more for. Your challenge is to ensure your patients have an emotional attachment to your brand, as their friendly dentist for example, and that will then be applied to all your treatments and patient plans.

‘We like to think of ourselves as rational human beings but there is no escaping that the way we think and act is triggered and shaped by our initial emotional response’                                                                               Du Plessis, 2005

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Are you a specialist in Endodontics, Periodontics or Orthodontics? Your brand doesn’t have to be based on your practice, your brand can be based around you as a Specialist.

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Remember, once you’ve created your brand it isn’t set in stone. Disney and Google update their branding every few years to keep the brand current whilst retaining the existing brand associations.

For a no-obligation initial chat about branding for your practice, contact us on 0845 287 3051.

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Dental Bridal Packages Work!

Wedding Bridal Packages

Following National Smile Month we’re swiftly approaching the summer wedding season, a great opportunity to promote specialist and cosmetic treatments. Every bride wants a perfect white smile to match her white dress!

The beauty of brides (and grooms and bridesmaids!) to be is that it is possible to target them directly and reach them cost effectively via joint ventures, for example with your local florist or hairdresser. It’s a brilliant way to find patients for your practice.  Promote a Special Offer on treatment(s) and on your flyer – why not encourage your joint venture partners to do the same?

Weddings are expensive and the large budget means that your dental treatments, whether teeth whitening or some other cosmetic treatment, won’t seem so high. On average people spend £36,127* on their wedding and the photography alone is on average £748*, making it an ideal time to get their smile ‘camera-ready’.

Don’t ignore the seasonal opportunities for getting new patients and increasing the profitability of your practice. Make sure you keep checking our blog for promotional hints and tips for your dental practice. Feel like you need to promote yourselves for the wedding season but don’t know where to start?

Call Smile Marketing on 0845 287 3051 or email us and we’ll get you down the right aisle.

*Stats from Hitched Wedding Industry Facts & Economics.

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National Smile Month

It’s that time of year again, a great time to promote your practice to the local community and attract patients to your specialist dental treatments so they can get the smile that they’ve always wanted.

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National Smile Month promotes three key messages, so make sure your promotions are in line with the following:

  • Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.

The aim of National Smile Month is to ultimately improve the UK’s oral health, and who better to do this for your patients than their very own dentist? Consider a Direct Mail campaign to patients you haven’t seen for a while, or how about a new patient promotion or an e-Newsletter to your patient list to remind them of your dental & hygiene membership scheme.

With the help and enthusiasm of those who are passionate about health and well being, National Smile Month 2014 will see hundreds of events and activities up and down the UK educate and engage local communities about the importance of a healthy mouth.

The campaign, which takes place between May 19 and June 19, encourages all dental and health professionals, schools, pharmacies, community groups, colleges and workplaces – in fact anyone with an  interest in good oral healthcare, to join in.

For advice on how to implement cost effective patient promotions, contact us.

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Word-of-mouth is NOT marketing

When talking to businesses, they often mention that word-of-mouth is their best form of marketing, their strongest source of new customers.

But ‘word-of-mouth’ isn’t marketing is it? For dental practices, it’s the result of great customer service, happy patients and the perception that your team have made their ‘patient journey’ the best it could be, especially if those patients are nervous or a little anxious. Let’s be honest, nobody wakes up in the morning thinking “I’m really looking forward to my check-up or root canal treatment”.

Certainly, if your patients are pro-actively telling their friends, family and colleagues about your wonderful practice that’s great, it’s where dental businesses want to be. The truth is probably no more than 10% of your patients are telling others about their experience at your practice.

So what about the other 90%? How do you encourage word-of-mouth?

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Assuming your patients are happy with their dental treatment and they like the wonderful warm welcome they receive on arrival as well as the glass of water or hot drink you offer them (and today’s newspaper to flick through), why are they not referring your practice to others?

Maybe they just need a little encouragement, a reminder that you ARE looking for more patients like them and that (and some practices like this) there’s a little incentive for them to refer – whether a deli voucher or oral health goody bag.

After patients leave your practice, they generally go back to their busy lives and your dental practice is no longer ‘on their radar’ and that’s the importance of a referral process in your business (which may involve some team training) and regular contact with your patients, so you remain on their radar.

For best practice advice and guidance on setting up a referral scheme for your practice, contact us on 0845 287 3051 or email info@smiledentalmarketing.co.uk.

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