Death by Aesthetic Dentistry

How You Label Your Dental Practice Makes a Huge Difference

Last week we drove a stake through the heart of “Aesthetic” or “Esthetic” as marketing terms to describe your style of dentistry. For the New Year, I’ll be a little kinder to the term “Restorative Dentistry.”

cosmetic dental marketing terms

Restorative Dentistry” ranks number five on our list of top results for descriptive marketing phrases with more than one hundred responses per month. But let’s stop and think about this result for a moment. That’s about 108 searches a month per state! Of all the people searching for a dentist in your state, only 108 referenced “Restorative Dentistry” in their search request. This is not a marketing term on which to stake your practice’s or family’s financial future in the tough months ahead.

Now, some of you are thinking “Cosmetic Dentistry” is still a great marketing term, given there are 135,000 queries, versus only 90,400 for “General Dentistry.” So let’s segment just the “Dentistry” results. I’ll even include the 1,900 people who used the misspelling of “Cosmetic Denistry,” and “Family Cosmetic Dentistry” on the cosmetic side of the equation.

cosmetic dentistry SEO

Let’s compare “Cosmetic” to “Family.”

family dentistry and general dentists

The results favor “Family / General Dentistry,” but not by much. The remaining issue is this: are you going to refer to yourself as a “Family-Friendly” dental practice or a “General” practice? Well, unless your state laws require you to use the term “General Dentistry,” I would strongly suggest using “Family” or “Family-Friendly Dentistry” to cast your marketing net as wide as possible. Further, how many of you want to be one of those “General Dentists” doing “General Dentistry?”

What does this mean for your 2009 marketing? The answer is simple: context.

If you are using signage, you should make reference to “Family Dentistry.” If you have enough space on your sign, use both terms (“Family & Cosmetic Dentistry”), but lead with the more economically friendly “Family” terminology in these recessionary times. (Click here for more details on dental sign design.)

The same holds true for Yellow Pages phone book display and newspaper ads. Lead with “Family Dentistry,” and follow up with “Cosmetic,” “Implants” or “Sedation.”

In terms of dental website marketing for local practices, there are still more than enough people searching for “Cosmetic Dentistry” in conjunction with “Your City Name,” so it makes financial sense to have a specific geo-targeted site for cosmetics.

Because of the way the search engines list results, it is still cost-effective to have multiple dental websites that are each targeted at a different segment of the dental market: Family, Cosmetics, Implants, Sedation, Ortho, etc. Complete Internet campaigns including a local website, directory listing and custom monthly patient email newsletter start at just $280 a month and drop to as low as $160 each for multiple websites.

It’s not hard to justify expanding your Internet marketing when just one additional new patient will generally pay for a full year of marketing. The reality is that you will probably average – worst case – one additional new patient a month. It makes for a great dental marketing ROI in a recessionary market.

Have a Great New Year!
Jim

Dental Patients Will Travel To See Their Dentist (video)

Dental patients travel for dentist treatmentThe average dental patient travels about 5-10 miles to see their dentist for treatment, we found in this survey of dentists. Rural patients travel longer distances for dental care than do urban residents.

However, some patients keep their dentist even after moving hundreds – sometimes thousands – of miles away.

“I’m a specialist," said one periodontist, "so we have quite a few patients from the coast, which is 90 miles away."

Agreed a dental implant dentist, "Many of our patients travel up to 4 hours by car for their treatment." An orthodontist seconded this, saying, "I have had a few patients who have travelled 150 miles one way to come to my office." 

"Including the guy who comes from Palm Beach?" asked a New York oral surgeon. "Not enough patients come from far away!"

Maybe it's New York… “I have both an active local clientele and an international clientele,” boasted a prosthodontist from that state.

Read more about this dental management issue: Dental Patient Travel Distance: Dentist Survey Results

Dental Practice Management: North Carolina Senate Bill Wants Dentists To Do It Themselves

Senate ruling on dental practice managementLast week in our post, Dentists Beware: The Government May Want To Tell You How To Manage Your Practice, we reported on the story of the North Carolina Senate and Senate Bill 655, which would require the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners to examine all business contracts entered into by dental practices in their state.

Dr. Clifton Cameron, a dentist in North Carolina reported to the Fay Observer that, “Senate Bill 655 would give the Dental Board complete control of how dentists in North Carolina run their practices so they can keep fees charged to patients artificially high and insurance acceptance artificially low.”

We wrote that we couldn’t find the reasoning behind such a move by the NC Senate and Board of Dental Examiners, but the Board did post the following to their website:

“The Board has become increasingly concerned about the expanding scope and nature of management company services and agreements, and their impact on the control of dental practices by the licensed dentists.

The bundled services offered by management companies typically involve some combination of (1) administrative management services; and (2) financial management services.

Based on its knowledge of the operations of dental practices, and after reviewing management arrangements with dental practices for almost ten (10) years, the Board has identified features of management arrangements which it has determined to be highly likely to create a situation where the ownership, management, supervision or control of a dental practice is impermissibly conveyed to an unlicensed person or organization because either separately or when bundled, those features interfere with the licensed dentists’ professional decision-making and their exercise of clinical skill, judgment and supervision in the dental practice.”

After we ran our original story, several doctors commented. A New Jersey dentist wrote:

“In New Jersey, the state board already forbids outside management. My partner and I spend about 20-30 per week running my business instead of on continuing education or, patient care.

The real argument isn’t whether or not I could be one of the practices recruited by management companies, but the unfair advantage it would bring to my practice over anothers’. Lower overhead, decreased fees, increased insurance acceptance, large marketing budgets would destroy competition and lower practice values and access to care.

Management companies specify laboratory selection, supply selection, employee selection, and continuing education budgets. While they bring lower overhead, they take money from the practice as well. If you fail to be attractive, your practice cannot contract with them.

Giving this advantage to a small percentage of dentists is unfair to the majority of dentists that do not wish to join or would not be accepted. I have 10 dentists within a 0.5 mile radius. We can’t all be Aspen Dental Centers. The other 9 practices would suffer, and that wouldn’t be fair.

This is about the only aspect of dental life in New Jersey that makes practicing here worthwhile. Defeat it. Resist, North Carolina!”

Another dentist responded with:

“Have they gone mad over there? Sounds like there’s something they are not telling us about…It sounds like the insurance companies are in bed with the politicians again….”

Indeed, it could be a game changer that would impact North Carolina dentists and how they manage their dental practices. The North Carolina Office of Research, Demonstrations and Rural Health Development reports that there is already a severe shortage of primary health care providers in North Carolina, particularly in the State’s rural areas.

But perhaps this isn’t about patient care at all — or making dental practices transparent.  Perhaps this is about lawmakers just playing politics.

Targeted Dental Marketing: Dentists Are Split Over the Value

Targeted Dental Marketing: Dentists Are Split Over the ValueSelecting a target market for a particular dental treatment rather than attempting to market to all types of dental patients can be a more efficient use of dental marketing dollars.

By focusing dental marketing resources on a specific patient base, dentists can carve out a market niche over their competition.

To find out how dentists are doing with target-specific dental marketing, The Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey asking dentists if they target specific types of new patients with their dental marketing.

Dentists were split right down the middle with 50% saying they do target specific types of patients and 50% saying they do not.

Of the dentists who do target their dental marketing, here’s what they target —

27% General family
22% Cosmetic dentistry
11% Dental implants
09% Invisalign
08% Gum disease
08% Sedation dentistry
07% Dentures
02% Dental insurance
02% Urgent care
02% Children
01% Prosthodontics

Here’s what dentists had to say on the subject of targeting specific dental patients –

“We welcome all kinds of patients!” (Rural Texas dentist)

“We also target higher income.” (General dentist)

“I have done it in the past for Ortho and Implants. I had separate websites for each. It only made sense. Like hunting, take the best equipment for what you want.” (Missouri dentist)

“We also offer incentives for referral business from our current patients.” (Kentucky dentist)

For more on targeted dental marketing see our in-depth research report on eleven specific dental markets.

Dental Marketing Can Bring Lots of New Patients (video)

Dental Marketing Can Bring Lots of New Patients (video)Dental marketing programs can bring lots of new dental patients to a doctor’s office.

However, some dentists can’t help but feel dirty about marketing themselves and their dental practices.

As one dentist pointed out, “A restaurant can’t say, ‘We won’t do marketing because we just want to cook good food for people.'”

Sighed a prostodontist, “Marketing is a necessary evil.”

The Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey asking dentists if dental marketing is part of their job.

Click on Play to hear how dentists answered this question —

What are your thoughts on dental marketing for your dental practice?

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