How To: Manage a Practice Blog

A blog is a ‘web log’ – effectively an online diary about your business. There are some very good reasons for your practice to have a blog:

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  • It’s a great way to keep your patients up to date on details of your practice that are too long to tweet
  • It helps your websites SEO as you’ll be updating your website every time you write a blog
  • You can write detailed articles on hygiene, how to floss or anything that you feel would benefit patients
  • To keep your patients up to date with the practice, staff and new treatments

If you are going to create a blog for your practice you need to do the following:

Host the blog on your own domain. (For example – www.YourBusiness.com/blog). Whoever set up your website can easily add a blog for you to use. Alternatively you can open a WordPress blog and have a link in your site navigation that directs people there.

Thinking of something interesting to say each time you blog is the tricky bit. You need to be able to write good content that will be interesting for your patients. They won’t read a long sales pitch.

Keep it up! Posting on a blog once is pointless, you may as well have just created a webpage for that post. You can write about anything related to dentistry, your practice or your local area, for example:

  • Jenny our dental nurse is going on maternity leave and will be replaced by Kim
  • Did you know? (you should brush for 2 mins, you need a pea size amount of toothpaste)
  • A coffee morning for charity will take place on 26th May at 10am – there will be cake!
  • How to floss like a pro
  • Our new implantologist

If you like the idea of a blog but need more direction and assistance in the set up and management then get in touch.

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How To: Write Practice Press Releases

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It’s a great idea to get local PR for your practice as it reminds your potential patients that you are an established and respected dental practice in the community. It also supports your brand and communicates how you help people to improve their confidence and improve their smile. For your current patient list, great PR confirms in their mind that they have chosen a quality practice.

Firstly you need to think about how to get the press excited, you need news that the editor thinks will benefit readers.

New treatments or a new clinician at your practice may be news to you, but not to a reporter who has hundreds of releases about new products and services to read.

Imagine an Orthodontic practice has just added lingual braces to their treatment offering and as part of the launch has decided to offer patients a free initial consultation. Here’s what not to do:

Orthodontic Practice Launches Invisible Braces

(Name) 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 a story printed and generate interest by changing your headline and first paragraph to focus on the offer and what’s in it for readers.

Orthodontic Practice Introduces FREE Consultation for Invisible Braces

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, choose the best angle from the patient’s point of view. If you will be sending your release to various media (local newspapers, dental press, local radio and local blogs) you may have to use different angles for the different media.

For help with a PR strategy or news article writing, contact us.

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Marketing with Payment by Results

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The most forward thinking marketing companies are now looking at different ways of structuring their pricing, and many are introducing payment by results for a proportion of their fees.

When you think about this, it makes sense. An experienced, skilled marketing agency will be confident in their ability to achieve results – it’s about partnership and sharing success.

Having spent many years working with dentists who often have very little experience with marketing, (and why should they?) it’s not surprising that if your clients are employing a marketing agency for the first time, you need to reassure them – not only with your experience, expertise, success stories and client recommendations – but for some having a proportion of your fees based on results, whether enquiries, new consults, practice income or ‘bottom line’.

Measurement and Transparency

Measurement and transparency are of course essential and both parties need to pre-agree the campaign budget, objectives and targets. Ambitious dental practices looking for continuous support to grow their business are more than happy to share management and financial information. That’s a true partnership. The more we know about the dental practice and the way it is set up and run, the better the outcomes will be from our business development and marketing activities.

To find out more about how this approach is being embraced by more and more dental practices and other businesses in the sector, contact us on 0845 287 3051 and ask for Steve Davey.

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To mail or not to mail…

That is the question.

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Figures from the Royal Mail* show that more than 92% of direct mail is opened and 48% of adults took action after receiving direct mail last year:

  • 14.2m bought something
  • 10.5m used a voucher or coupon
  • 2.8m tried a new product or service
  • 3m made an enquiry by phone

You are of course looking for patients and referrals, so think about the type of people you are targeting. Are they more likely to respond to a banner advert of a local website, an email or a letter through their door?

Direct mail has an amplifier effect when used in tandem with other advertising channels, so using direct mail can improve your existing practice marketing.

If you’re lost at sea with the amount of options available then get in touch, not only can we help you to decide the best media to put your money behind, we can also help you to implement the most cost effective marketing tactics.

Sometimes all you need is some guidance in the right direction.
Why not send us a message?
Or call us on 0845 287 3051.

*http://www.royalmail.com/node/19353839

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New App ‘Facebook at Work’ Launched

Now that Facebook has a firm hold on billions of users personal interactions they are expanding into the workplace, so contacting your colleagues with notes, articles and files will be as easy as messaging your friends and sending photos. Facebook state:

Facebook at Work is a tool for co-workers to communicate and collaborate in a professional environment on Facebook.

This new app has been recently launched to ‘pilot partners’ (selected businesses) for testing.

Unlike LinkedIn, Facebook at Work is for internal communications within your practice, not to connect with other businesses or your patients. This new app could eliminate the need for endless emails, calls and notes with the overall usability of Facebook enabling staff to collaborate like never before.

Most importantly photos of you at the weekend won’t be visible from your work account. Phew!

Your personal and work accounts are separate but you can log in using the same username and password, making it easy to switch between accounts.

The app set up is done by your practice, then you can open employee accounts which will already have name, job title and work contact info. You can personalise your account with profile picture, cover photo and other details without changing your personal account.

So what could this do for your dental practice?

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When you need to let all the dental nurses know about a change in routine you can tag them in a post on your page and they will all receive it to their phones. If you have some news about the practice you can post it on the news feed for everyone (including your social media manager) so they can share this news with your patients.

There are hundreds of possible ways to use this new app, in our opinion anything that improves communication in your practice should be welcomed with open arms!

Do you think ‘Facebook at Work’ could help your practice staff keep up to date? Let us know what you think on our Facebook page.

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When to use radio for dental practices

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We get asked this a lot. Well, for many practices, it’s a sound business opportunity!

Typically, and in our experience, radio works best for:

  • Practice launches – reaching as many people as quickly as possible to build a patient base
  • Promoting a unique service in your catchment e.g. cosmetic treatments not offered by competitors
  • Communicating convenience e.g. children’s braces without NHS waiting list
  • Promoting an event e.g. practice open day (often at launch)
  • Seasonal offers e.g. teeth whitening for summer and the “wedding season”

Regional radio stations with a good % of local people listening can work really well. You just need a creative advert with a strong message and clear call to action (your phone number, web address or text number)

Ah, my “ideal patient” I hear you say. Everyone should have a profile of who they really want in their practice but that’s a subject for another day.

There are best practices in buying radio advertising or sponsorship and it’s always best to consult a professional marketing company for assistance.

Next time, we’ll dispel the myths of radio advertising, for example it doesn’t have to be expensive – in fact it can be extremely cost effective if you look at the cost per thousand of reaching your ideal patients.

For an initial no-obligation phone consultation with us to discuss your practice future, call 0845 287 3051 or email steve@smiledentalmarketing.co.uk.

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What’s Your Return on Investment?

From the very start of my marketing career it became apparent that direct response marketing was a crucial component of business; that is to test, measure and ensure that your marketing activities are judged in terms of ROI.

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The internet has moved measurable marketing on in leaps and bounds, e-Newsletters, blogs and social media all add to the range of marketing that can be measured accurately and instantly.

Also, SEO, Pay Per Click (Google AdWords) and Blogs (like this one!) are tried and tested ways to drive traffic to your website but some techniques are even more targeted.

Re-Marketing allows you to keep communicating with the people who visit your website but leave without using your contact form. 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, who are perhaps researching a specialist treatment they are considering, for example 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.

To explore the marketing options for your practice, contact us for a no-obligation chat.

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Marketing. Making it happen!

Happy New Year 2015

Some people want it to happen
Some wish it would happen
Others make it happen

To make it happen, you first need a plan, a roadmap if you like. In the same way you don’t get in your car without knowing where you are going and how you are going to get there, it’s the same for building a business.

A business plan supported by a marketing plan that helps you achieve your business objectives is the way to reach your destination, whether measured in income, profit, cases, professional standing within your profession or exit, if you have an exit plan (which is a huge subject in itself).

For help with a business plan and marketing plan from the people in the know, it’s important to work with a specialist marketing agency that knows your challenges, your industry and the roadblocks potentially in your way.

Make 2015 the year you have a roadmap to growth. Contact Steve on 0845 287 3051 or steve@smiledentalmarketing.co.uk.

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On the 12th day of Christmas …

…You should have your 2015 Marketing Plan ready!

It’s that time of year when businesses, including dental practices, have the ambition to make the New Year their best year ever. All too often though, it never really happens and one of the reasons is that the practice doesn’t have a business plan and almost certainly doesn’t have a marketing plan with clear objectives.

It is of course important to plan set targets in terms of patient income, cases, referrals and Patient Plan memberships if you have a scheme in place.

A dental practice business plan should at the very least cover the following topics:

  • Practice vision
  • Objectives – growth, acquisition, exit, new partnership…
  • Practice strengths and weaknesses
  • The financials e.g. 2-3 year financial projections, with breakdown in treatment mix
  • Supplier services & costs e.g. supplies, sundries
  • Practice and equipment maintenance
  • Team development plans – clinical training, personal development training, recruitment, practice management
  • Marketing – external support, such as Smile Marketing, and internal responsibilities
  • Success criteria i.e. what does success look like?

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So don’t leave “your best year ever” to chance. Do talk to a specialist dental marketing agency for advice and guidance.

For an initial no-obligation phone consultation with Steve Davey to discuss your practice future, call 0845 287 3051 or email steve@smiledentalmarketing.co.uk.

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Join the Smile Team

To continue its growth path, Smile is looking for talented individuals to join the team as regional associates. The positions we’re are looking to fill are for the Midlands, East Anglia, North East, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We already have associates covering London/South East, South Coast, South West, Wales and the North West.

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Smile offers a full range of marketing services including business planning, branding, marketing planning, welcome packs, referral packs, clinician and practice PRdental websites, patient recruitment campaigns and Social Media Strategy and Social Media Management.

Offering either retainer-based or project-based packages, the company’s flexible approach to helping practices is proving to be very popular.

Steve Davey, commented:

Since the launch of Smile Marketing 5 years ago, interest from dentists, orthodontists, endodontists, implantologists and other specialists has been fantastic. The dental industry has become increasingly competitive so guiding Principals and Practice Managers to become self-sufficient and more targeted with their marketing has proved to be a real ‘win win’.

The introduction of Payment by Results, a proportion of our fees based on practice performance (enquiries, consultations, income), has proved to be very popular and shows our commitment to helping businesses succeed. 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 call us on 0845 287 3051 or email info@smiledentalmarketing.co.uk.

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