Why Dental Marketing Requires Long-term Thinking

Dental Marketing Requires Long-term Thinking Sometimes it’s frustrating to hear that dental marketing results will take time. When dentists spend thousands of dollars on something, it’s only natural to want a return as soon as possible.

But marketing is really more of a marathon than a sprint.

The best results come over time.

It’s not unheard of for an advertising campaign to produce an immediate return, but that’s usually the exception to the rule. We hope for short-term response, but we plan for long-term results. Keep this in mind when you choose among your dental marketing options.

Once you pick your method, give the media enough time to produce. In most cases, the approach of “I’ll do this for a couple months and see how it goes” is a mistake and a waste of money.

Why are dental marketing results better over the long run?

One of the main reasons is because patients are likely to need multiple exposures to a message before they respond. Radio advertising provides a good example. Radio is a frequency medium, which means it works best when your ad makes repeated impressions on the same listener.

It can be expensive to make multiple impressions on a listener, especially in the larger markets, so it’s important to buy a station that you can afford. If you can’t afford to commit for at least six months, then you need to pick a less expensive station or put off radio until such a commitment is realistic.

One good media buyer I know tells his clients, “In the first month, you’re going to lose a (heck) of a lot of money. In the second month you’ll lose a little less. By the fourth or fifth month, you’ll start breaking even. And after six months, you’ll start making a lot of money.”

Now that first part might sound a little bleak, but if you’re planning long term, your investment won’t be evaluated by early results. At the end of the year the aggregated profit over the months should more than make up for a slow start.

I’ve seen dentists get multiple new patients the first day they ran a radio ad. That’s great for morale, but it’s not necessary for a successful campaign. Some of the best campaigns I’ve seen have started slow and built up over time.

Make sure you choose dental marketing methods that reflect this reality, and that your decisions are made for the long-term.

Ed Ridgway has executed dental marketing campaigns for hundreds of businesses in the U.S. and Canada. He is nationally recognized for his ongoing campaigns with many of the top dental practices across the country.

The House Flipping Mentality As It Applies to Dental Marketing

time is moneyHouse flipping: Buying real estate and quickly reselling for a profit, either because of renovations or rising housing prices.

Marketing campaign flipping: Trying different marketing campaigns in rapid succession in an attempt to maximize returns.

Given the recent economic situation, particularly the burst of the housing bubble, it’s a good time to examine some common pitfalls associated with the “flipping” mentality. Everyone knows what house flippers do: purchase homes at a below market value, fix them up a little, and sell at a profit. Preferably in the shortest amount of time possible, all while capitalizing on favorable market trends. Sounds good right? Right! Until the bottom falls out of those favorable market trends.

This isn’t a piece on real estate investment. (However, you will see more from us on property management and real estate as it pertains to dental practices!) Here, I’m going to look at what happens when dentists apply the house-flipping mentality to marketing their dental practices.

Your marketing plan is a vehicle to generate return on investment, but it needs time to generate those dividends.

Time is absolutely critical when analyzing your return on investment (ROI). House flippers traditionally try to maximize their profit margin by turning a house over as quickly as possible. Some dentists try to maximize marketing returns by quickly switching to a new marketing campaign if they don’t see immediate results from their current one. Just as flippers are now suffering from time running out, some dental practices suffer from not allowing enough time for their marketing plan to generate a significant positive return on investment.

It’s important that you give your marketing campaign time to succeed. It’s also important that you spend enough time to effectively structure your marketing plan. Without time, your campaign will be doomed to fail. As a busy dentist, you might enlist the help of professional consultants, or you might have staff specifically dedicated to the task. Regardless, it is imperative that you allow enough time to develop a solid marketing strategy that will work for your practice.

The flipper mentality need not apply to your marketing plan. Sure, you might see relatively quick returns from signage or a referral program. But other marketing vehicles take more time. Starting a website, airing a commercial, or launching a direct mail campaign for six months “just to see what happens” is not a smart investment. All you will do is lose money! It’s simply not enough time to gauge success.

Think of a flipper who bought a house at the pinnacle of the market, and is now left with a devalued piece of property. That investment just became an asset – one that loses money. That is exactly what any marketing venture will do if not given the adequate time to develop into something profitable.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but those exceptions are not the foundation of your marketing plan. Your attention and oversight will allow you to effectively factor in the exceptions and local geo-specific variables to further tailor your plan in the future. Do yourself a favor and invest the time educating yourself, before investing a dime showcasing your practice. Don’t become a campaign flipper!

Written by Chris Barnard

Dental Marketing: The 3 Elements to Successful Radio Advertising

Dental Marketing: The 3 Elements to Successful Radio Advertising

Radio can’t sell everything.

But for dental marketing, we know it can sell high-end dentistry.

Any dental advertiser who says, “radio doesn’t work,” used it wrong.

The 3 elements to successful dental marketing with radio advertising –

1. The right audience.

The first element to successful radio advertising is picking the right audience. This is done by selecting the proper radio station and the appropriate time of day to reach your target demographic.

2. The right frequency.

Next you need to find the right frequency. Radio is a frequency medium. Your results get better as time goes on, and you make repeated impressions on the same listener. Media buyers have different opinions as to how many commercials, or spots, is enough. The key is to spend just enough, without wasting money.

Underfunding a campaign is even more inefficient than over-funding it. If you can’t afford enough frequency on the most popular station in town, pick one you can afford or use another medium besides radio.

3. The right message.

The most important element to a successful radio campaign is the message. This includes the words, the voice, the music and the length of the commercial. Remember that we’re not trying to win awards for the most clever commercial – the only thing that matters is that the audience we are targeting picks up the phone and makes the call.

The simplest-sounding commercial often out-produces the slick polished spot with the smooth voice and the professional jingle. Don’t take your eye off the ball here. It’s not important that your staff, friends, and family all like your new commercial.

The only thing that matters for successful radio advertising is whether the commercial generates income.

Ed Ridgway has executed dental marketing campaigns for hundreds of businesses in the U.S. and Canada. He is nationally recognized for his ongoing campaigns with many of the top dental practices across the country.

How to Become Recognized as THE Cosmetic Dentist Part 2

Dr  Harvey Silverman How many times have you heard a patient say, “Let me go home and think about it” or perhaps, “Let me talk to my husband (or wife) about it” after a cosmetic consultation? There are many excuses, or even hidden objections, causing patients to “hold-off” on proposed cosmetic dentistry.

The bottom line though is that this does not have to be the case. I know that from teaching dentists how to step up the cosmetic component of their practice for over 25 years.

So what is the best approach and how long does it take to expand the cosmetic component in your practice? At the Silverman Institute of Cosmetic Dentistry we found that no matter where you practice the good news is that it does not take months to take your cosmetic dentistry practice to the next level.

It can happen in one day if you are willing to make a commitment to distinguishing the cosmetic component in your practice.

Even in today’s economy patients want to have a self-confident smile and to look/feel their best. In order to achieve this cosmetic expert status, you need to cultivate outstanding clinical skills. The good news is that it is easier to do that today than ever before with non-invasive/minimally invasive veneers.

See Figure 1 and 2 below. Simultaneously we must look at our work environment. You might as well do that today since your patients are doing that when they enter your dental practice every day.

Figure 1: This patient is undergoing the final phase of Invisalign treatment

Figure 1:

This patient is undergoing the final phase of Invisalign treatment by another dentist.  He is interested in knowing what can be done to enhance the final esthetics of his case.

Figure 2: After doing a custom-designed 60 Second Smile Trial directly on tooth #7

Figure 2:

After doing a custom-designed 60 Second Smile Trial directly on tooth #7, the patient can see exactly what the final outcome of the case will look like.  The patient is also considering tooth whitening prior to doing the in-office LifeLike Veneer™.

Step 1: Creating Self-awareness Through a Self-evaluation of Your Practice

Here’s a simple suggestion on how you can accomplish that. Walk out of the office for a moment. Okay now come back in and look around. What do you notice? Does anything you see in your reception area jump out at you?

Write down some notes on a piece of paper.

After doing that let’s step out of the office again – and come back in. Now this time I want you to look around the office with a different perspective, as if you are a patient. What does your office say about you as a cosmetic dentist? Is there anything in the reception area that informs, educates and motivates patients to learn how recent advances in cosmetic dentistry can enhance their smile? What silently provides your patients with increased confidence in your cosmetic dentistry skills?

Is there anything that you see that helps distinguish you as a skilled, talented cosmetic dentist?

I can go on and on but I think you get where I am going.

This exercise is something I have dentists do during our cosmetic dentistry Boot Camp program. The result is that the dentist and the entire team learn to think about the unspoken message your office is sending to your patients. This may seem obvious enough but when was the last time you sat down in your reception area and looked around – seeing the office from the eyes of a patient? When you do this you and your team will learn what needs to be done to build cosmetic awareness.

So what should your practice look like?

If you snap a few photos of your reception area (no more than 5) and send them in jpg format to my email address at incrediblesmiles@aol.com, I will be happy to review them and provide you with a few complimentary suggestions on simple changes you might want to make.

This is a very important first step for you if you want to take your cosmetic practice to the next level and I’d like to help you accomplish that goal.

In the next edition of How To Become Recognized As THE Cosmetic Dentist In Your Community:

Step 2. SCRAP THE TABLOIDS, SHARE SOME SMILES

About the author:

Dr  Harvey Silverman Dr. Harvey Silverman has successfully coached dentists on how to take their cosmetic dentistry practice to the next level since 1984. If you want information on how the Silverman Institute’s Cosmetic Dentistry Boot Camp Program can take your cosmetic practice to the next level, contact Dr Silverman at (216) 256-4599 or e-mail him at incrediblesmiles@aol.com.

Dr Silverman is the author of Best Cosmetic Dentistry Practices in Dental Products Report as well as Silverman On Smiles in Dentistry Today and is the inventor of the LifeLike Veneer System™ and the EasySmile Tooth Whitening System™ that will be available to dentists in 2012.

Dental Marketing: What Kind of Dental Practice Should Advertise on the Radio?

Dental Marketing: What Kind of Dental Practice Should Advertise on the Radio?Dental marketing is all about efficiency. It’s always best to keep doing the things that work and provide the most bang for the buck.

I’m one of the biggest proponents of radio advertising in the dental marketing industry because I’ve worked with so many practices who have seen great success from it. My company, Ridgway Consulting, is best known for our dental practice radio campaigns.

That being said, it’s not right for every practice.

Radio is a broadcast medium, like TV. This is significant because the radio signal often reaches a larger geographic area than what you might normally consider your practice’s base. Depending on the population in your area, you may mostly see patients that are within five, ten or twenty miles of your practice.

By contrast, some radio stations have the signal strength to reach listeners that are hours away.

The challenge with enormous “reach” of a broadcast like that is cost. When you advertise, you get what you pay for; in radio terms, that means radio stations charge you based upon the amount of listeners. So the problem is this: how can you be efficient when you are spending a portion of your marketing dollars to reach people who won’t travel as far as your office for dentistry?

The answer is simple – you need to have something that distinguishes you from the competition.

Radio only makes sense if you can offer something the other local practices are not offering. You need to give people a reason to pass by all the offices that are closer to their work and home, and make you their dentist of choice. That unique service, whether it be Invisalign, implants, sedation dentistry, or whatever, also needs to be a relatively profitable service.

It’s difficult to make an acceptable ROI when you advertise a low-dollar service like cleanings or whitening. Instead, use radio to advertise something like sedation. One big case, from someone who’s been away from dentistry for years, can pay for months of radio time.

Ed Ridgway has executed marketing campaigns for hundreds of businesses in the U.S. and Canada. He is nationally recognized for his ongoing campaigns with many of the top dental practices across the country.

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