Festivals Are for Dental Practices, Too!

Editorial
by Jim Du Molin

Summer’s here, and it’s festival time for your dental marketing!

Just about every community has a summer festival of one sort or another. In the last month alone, my little town of Tiburon, California has had a wine festival (we have no vineyards), an arts festival (I’m sure we have artists), an antique auto show (yes, we have cars) and a “Friday Night on Main Street” get-together (people eating and drinking in the street while listening to music). However, I’ve yet to see a “Shark Festival,” although tiburon is Spanish for “shark.” I have yet to see a local dentist take advantage of these marketing opportunities, though I can imagine a giant Jaws-style shark float with big teeth.

On a national level, I can report on at least one great creative approach to festival marketing by a dental office. Dr. Jim Sparaga and his wife Kathy of Machias, Maine, put together a great float for their town’s Wild Blueberry Festival. That’s Dr. Jim driving the tractor with some kids from his practice riding the float. And yes, those are blueberries stuck in the giant smile.

On the other side of the float he had his team passing out balloons. Needless to say, they won first prize for this creative endeavor – not to mention a tremendous amount of local good will and recognition for the practice.

I’m still trying to figure out what the chair on the back of the float was for, but let’s not quibble about the details. If you have done some festival marketing, feel free to email your photos and ideas to Jim@TheWealthyDentist.com.

Essentials of Marketing a Small Business

Melinda SpitekSpecial Marketing Feature
By Melinda Spitek, CEO, Hycomb Marketing

What’s the difference between your dental practice and any other small business in America? Simple: your education, professionalism, and technical abilities defy comparison with the rest.

But beyond that, you’re just another small business, faced with promoting the value of the service you offer. The principles of marketing remain the same, regardless of what service it is.

Seven Critical Reasons to Start Marketing Your Practice NOW:

  1. Your market is always changing. People move. Neighborhoods evolve. If you give up promoting your service, you fall out of touch with those you hope to serve.
  2. People forget — fast. Every day, we’re assaulted by information. People filter out all but their priorities, and arrange those on a “ladder to the brain.” A consistent marketing program lands you at the top of that “ladder.”
  3. Marketing strengthens your identity. The service you provide could be superior…and also the community’s best-kept secret! Don’t hide your light under a basket.
  4. Marketing is a potent reminder. No matter how great your service was, unless you regularly maintain contact…out-of-sight becomes out-of-mind.
  5. Consistent marketing puts you ahead of the game. Marketing efforts that come and go don’t work. Developing a long-term plan, funding it, sticking with it, pays off.
  6. Marketing gives everyone a lift. Employees and customers (or patients) feel good about patronizing a service well known in the community.
  7. It’s an obligation! You owe it to your team, your family, and your retirement program to be a success. And that only comes with persistent marketing. It’s not an expense; it’s an investment in your business and your lifestyle.

Choosing the plan that’s right for you

You need to define what you want for yourself: where you are now, and where you want to go. You must choose success; it will not just come to you. How much personal time and effort do you want to invest in marketing your services? All the tangibles (newsletters, stationery, advertising) play only a supporting role. The anchor of your marketing plan is the personal time you invest in your community.

A Successful Marketing Plan Reflects Your Character and Your Goals

  • The plan accounts for both short- and long-term goals
  • Your goal is to increase production, attract new patients, or change the community’s perception of your services
  • The shifting marketplace demands a new identity
  • You’re in transition, and need to communicate that to the community at large
  • You want a return on investment in education, equipment or materials you have invested in.

What is your comfort level with marketing tools?

How do you feel about direct mail…newspaper ads…savings certificates? Are you a believer in Yellow Page ads? The important thing is to present your business in a way that reflects your personality—and fits your comfort zone.

Who will play a role in managing the marketing plan?

Even owners who want to “run the whole show” are usually dependent at least in part on their staff for day-to-day activities, like tracking your results. To be successful, your marketing choices must reflect the office’s overall style—and more importantly, be enthusiastically accepted by your office team.

Where to Begin?

Marketing any small business may seem—to the owner—like a daunting task. But really it’s a combination of common sense and experience. The worst thing you can do is to put it off until “tomorrow.”

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 Management & Marketing: Fun – or No?

Dental management & marketing - responsibilities and enjoymentDentists are split over dental marketing and management — almost half hate those responsibilities, but just as many say they sometimes enjoy them.

“I hate the management, but like the marketing,” said one dentist.

In this survey, 43% said they sometimes enjoy dental management and dental practice marketing, 16% say it’s not the best and not the worst, and 41% absolutely hate it.

  • “I like patient education and motivation.” (Endodontist)
  • “I like the dental surveys and hearing what other dentists are thinking.” (New York dentist)
  • “I enjoy bringing out the best in the team and coming up with a marketing plan that works!” (California dental professional)
  • “I love the marketing; it is fun and profitable. Dental websites are essential, and I have many.” (Illinois sleep apnea & TMJ dentist)
  • Internal dental marketing, where my patients tell their friends about the appointment they had at our office, is what I prefer most.” (Wisconsin dentist)
  • “I don’t like that we have to advertise, but the general public has been so brainwashed to accept marketing that we are almost forced to do some form of marketing in order to stay competitive.” (Florida dentist)
  • “I wish I could have someone buy my practice and do the management! I have been told often that I am an excellent manager, but it is not my favorite part of practice ownership. I never seem to get a total break.” (Alabama dentist)

Read more: Enjoying Dental Marketing & Management Dentist Responsibilities

Dental Marketing: 7 Ways To Turn Your Dental Office Into a Hot Marketing Machine

Dental marketing is more than just a geo-targeted, search engine optimized dental website and an effective email newsletter marketing plan. It also involves branding and an effective dental office display, which should begin before patients step inside your waiting room.

marina pacific heights dental signage Great dental office signage offers you the ability to speak to those potential patients when your practice is closed.

The Wealthy Dentist went on a search for a dental practice that exemplifies great dental office display — one that effectively markets new patients on its own.

We found a perfect example in San Francisco at Marina Pacific Heights Dental Care.

This dental practice maximizes every opportunity to reinforce their brand so patients have no doubt what this dentist offers.

They also get their dental marketing right from the start with their geo-targeted dental practice name: Marina Pacific Heights Dental Care. There are over one hundred neighborhoods in San Francisco, with the Marina and Pacific Heights neighborhoods being two of the most well-known.

Are you curious how this dental office signage is considered a hot marketing machine that (very) effectively attracts new patients?

7 Ways To Turn Your Dental Office Into a Hot Marketing Machine

1. Effective outdoor marketing starts with the appearance of the office front.
The front of your dental practice is the first impression a client may have of your business. It is important to portray an appearance of professionalism with fresh paint, clean windows and an entrance that is inviting to a new patient.

In this case, Marina Pacific Heights Dental Care chose marine blue as the color to their building front to most likely match the Marina branding, plus the color blue is often associated with depth and stability. The large, bright windows give the practice a welcoming feeling, thus inviting dental patients to walk up and take a peek inside.

2. Dental signage that is easy to read from a distance.
When deciding on a dental office sign, it’s important to consider optimal letter size, fonts that are easy to see along with plenty of negative space for readability at various distances. These considerations help make sure that passers-by can read your message.

Notice how big, how bright and how tastefully done the Marina Pacific Heights Dental Care sign is. It provides high visibility on what appears to be a heavily trafficked street in San Francisco.

3. The use of the office phone number in branding.
A domain name made up of the business phone number sends the message, “Please call us. We answer the phone!”

Not only is Marina Pacific Heights Dental Care phone number easy to read for drive-by traffic, but it also is cleverly used as a web address. If you visit www.415-922-3220.com, it automatically redirects you to their actual site: www.drbrattesani.com. Dr. Brattesani takes advantage of not only his name in his marketing efforts, but also his office phone number.

4. Effective window advertising displays.
As a dentist you need to make it very clear what your dental practice offers. Dental treatment advertising can enhance your appeal while prospecting for patients.

In Dr. Brattesani’s case, he utilizes his windows to tell patients what dental treatments his practice offers, along with images of happy, smiling patients. It also demonstrates that while he does “Cosmetic Dentistry” he does not limit his practice.

great dental front door signage

5. Prominent front door signage.
The front door of your dental practice should clearly display crucial information for dental patients, delivery people and street traffic. It should display important information such as your practice doctors, operating hours, contact details and dental treatments.

Marina Pacific Dental does this effectively on their door which is clearly visible to people as they walk down the street. Take special note of the “Big Smiling Lips” and the inclusion of the Hygienist’s name on the door – classy touch.

6. The use of key visuals with pop-art sculpture.

Humans remember key visual images better than they remember words. Effective dental visuals can capture attention instantly, and communicate what your business does quickly.

This dental practice captures immediate attention with their toothbrush and mouth mirror sculptures. There is no question to passers-by that a dental practice occupies this location. These pop-art sculptures could be especially effective in San Francisco where people might be tempted to stop and have their photos taken next to one of these eye-catching icons, then post it on Facebook, or other social networking sites for their friends to see.

Plus the scupture send the message that this dentist office is fun.

7. Utilizing the entrance space as an advertising platform.
Adding something special to your entrance way with a custom welcome mat, engraved tiles or painted pavement can do wonders for inviting your patients into your practice before they open your front door. An attractive entrance adds to the ambiance of your building, both by the way it looks and by the impression it gives to street traffic and patients.

Dr. Brattesani does this effectively by literally painting the street the same marine blue color and creating a “Welcome to a new smile” floor mat at the entry to their practice.

welcome mat signage

All in all, The Wealthy Dentist gives Marina Pacific Heights Dental Care high marks for turning their dentist office front into a hot marketing machine.

It is important to leave a lasting impression in the minds of your patients. The more your people who know your name, where you are located and what treatments you have to offer, the better patient-ambassadors they can be.

It all starts right at your front door.

For more help on great dental signs see our $1,000,000 Sign Tutorial

*photos courtesy of Matt Huber
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