Many dentists have no better approach to dental marketing than something we call “Marketing Whack-a-mole.” A dentist tries one marketing tactic at a time (haphazardly) and they blame the lack of success on the marketing tactics itself. If they could look in the mirror they would see that the real failure in marketing starts with the person looking back at them. Don’t get us wrong… you dentists are smart! So you will see the truth in the following statement — the foundation of lasting dental marketing success is a solid, intentional practice culture.
HOW DOES CULTURE IMPACT MY DENTAL MARKETING?
Unfortunately, too many believe culture to be a “soft” subject. That it’s a fluffy, flimsy, kumbaya affair. That focusing on a business’s culture doesn’t turn out tangible results. This line of thinking could not be further from the fact. Your practice culture has a HUGE impact on your bottom line and sets the stage for your marketing success or failure.
STORY 1: THE RESUSCITATION OF A DYING PRACTICE
One of our clients once told us how precariously close she was to selling her practice. She had been having a terrible time at work and described half her team as “storm clouds.” She was ready to hit the eject button on clinical dentistry and parachute into something else in life. Two potential buyers were already lined up and waiting to purchase her practice. But, before making her final decision, she decided to get away for a couple of weeks. On her trip she attended a course on practice culture and a life-changing epiphany struck her. She didn’t hate dentistry. Doc just detested the vexatious culture that rotted away her joy in owning and running her practice. So, she decided to make a change by taking charge and correcting her practice’s culture course.
She felt inspired! She was invigorated! During those rejuvenating and reflective days, she defined exactly what she wanted the culture of her practice to be. She then called her team from the road and set forth the culture she envisioned. Moving forward, they were expected to conform to this culture, or they were welcome to pound sand (she said it in a nicer way). When she returned from her trip and entered her practice, she learned that the three storm clouds decided to accept her invitation to skedaddle, taking their dreary-wearies with them.
With her team down to three (including herself ), she went on to have some of the best weeks in dentistry she had ever had. The practice was reborn with the new, intentional culture. My friend loved dentistry again, and she loved the financial results too! What’s more… her case acceptance rate DOUBLED, and she saw a 5X increase in her new patient referrals.
Our client’s experience is not an anomaly. Data backs the premise that culture is one of the most important, if not the greatest, factors in a business’s success. Management guru Peter Drucker receives credit for the pithy aphorism, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This aligns perfectly with my experience in the dental industry.
Practices with a bad culture are often hemorrhaging patients, and desperately rely on any new patient inflow just to stay in business. It’s a vicious, depressing, and exhausting cycle.
STORY 2: THE NEAR CATASTROPHE OF A HEALTHY PRACTICE
We have a client that tracks their marketing dollars and results fastidiously. One year they were shocked to find their revenue from online marketing had dropped to $117,000. Their distress was understandable when considering that their previous year’s online marketing generated $579,000. Their immediate assumption was that their marketing efforts had horribly failed.
However, the practice dug into their data and found that they had actually received more leads throughout
the down year. [Practices with a bad culture are often hemorrhaging patients, and they desperately rely on any new patient inflow just to stay in business.]
What the heck happened?! After taking a complete inventory of that year’s events, they determined that the real culprit in their drastic setback was the high employee turnover that year, which led to their culture getting out of whack. New team members weren’t correctly answering the phone, interacting with patients, or following other important protocols. The practice lost just shy of a half-million dollars in revenue due to the erosion of their culture over that year. When the practice grasped what happened, they righted their culture ship and sailed smoothly back to their prior levels of success.
A wonderful study was performed a few years back by Cambeo — an employee engagement and performance platform. The study included 250 dental practices across three countries to examine correlation between culture and practice performance metrics. Each practice’s culture score was determined by ranking them across several categories. This survey uncovered some impressive findings.
When splitting the list of practices based on their culture score:
- the top quartile earned an average of 22% more revenue than the bottom quartile.
- the top quartile saw 2.7x more new patients than the bottom quartile.
At this point you had better be recognizing just how important your culture is to your bottom line. But what IS this thing we call culture?
WHAT IS A DENTAL PRACTICE’S CULTURE?
Your culture is the shared mission, vision, and values of your dental practice.
Mission = WHY your practice does what it does.
Vision = WHAT you want your practice to accomplish.
Core Values = HOW you will accomplish it.
[To create your own Culture Charter, visit dentalcmo.com/MarketingPlanTools to download a free copy of our Culture Chart Tool.}
WHY IS CULTURE SO IMPORTANT TO DENTAL MARKETING?
Do a little research into your favorite companies and most likely you will find they have clearly defined mission, vision, and value statements. Why is that? Any successful organization establishes shared characteristics to help it scale and improve. Copy the best thinking of the world’s best organizations by defining and intentionally building your own practice’s culture. A natural byproduct of this effort will be attracting more of your ideal patients. Then a group like DentalCMO can step in and speed up the patient acquisition process.