Dentists are expected to do a lot. One of the biggest expectations of them is to go out into the world and run a successful business when, for the most part, they had no training on running a business at all. It’s actually quite remarkable how many are able to do so well. You’re a smart bunch, you dentists!
Truthfully, most dentists (and even the successful ones) have room to improve in all facets of running their business — especially marketing. One way we help you out with this is by sending lots of fantastic tips every other week about what you should do to improve your dental marketing. This week we will focus on some of the things you should NOT do.
The Top 5 Reasons Dentists Fail at Marketing Their Practices:
- Inconsistency We coined the term “marketing whack-a-mole” to describe most dentists’ marketing approach. It comes from the game where a little mechanical mole pops out of a hole and the player has to whack it with a bopper before the mole disappears back down his hole. Dentists play the marketing version of this game by chasing any new marketing trend that pops up without any consideration of how their other marketing efforts are going and how the new tactic may fit into their overall strategy. Also, dentists often drop their new marketing muse within a few months saying “this just doesn’t work for my practice.” Inconsistency in marketing efforts is a perpetual cycle of fits and starts. The practice will never build sustainable marketing momentum if the approach is always changing in a chaotic way. Even practice’s that utilize a dated or unattractive marketing tactic can still see long-term success simply because they stick with it.
- Unrealistic Expectations Though we are usually very optimistic about our ability to help practices meet their growth goals, sometimes a practice will just NOT be able to hit them. Every market is unique and has its own set of variables that must be factored into a practice marketing plan. Dentists need to honestly assess how much potential revenue CAN be made in their market and how they really stack up against the competition. Not trying to sound harsh here, but if your practice is on “the wrong side of the tracks” you must recognize that you will not convince most people in the affluent parts of town to come to you. We had a client in Michigan who had been successful for the previous years while promoting high-end cosmetic dentistry. He noticed a gradual dip then precipitous drop off and came to the conclusion that his marketing was to blame. He reached out to us about this and after reviewing we had to break the sobering news to him. The demographics of his community had shifted dramatically over the previous few years. People near him could legitimately not afford his services. He was left to decide if he was going to move, or change his business model.
- Few/Poor Reviews Two words… social proof. Reviews matter a LOT to consumers. You can offer the best dentistry and have the most stunning website in the world, but if you have 8 reviews with an average of 3.5 stars, you will consistently lose patients to the practice with 290 reviews and 4.9 stars. Most people will go through their dentist selection process by considering location, finance (insurance driven or not), and perceived quality of the business. How do they determine perceived quality? Yes, by the marketing materials a practice puts out there. But even more importantly in the consumer’s mind is what other people have to say. People are growing more dependent on crowd-sourcing what opinion they should hold of a business. Play to that and win. Ignore it and lose.
- Weak or No Strategy The word strategy comes from an old Greek word “strategos,” which translates as “general.” And the Greek “taxis,” is where our word “tactic” comes from. Your marketing strategy is WHAT you want to accomplish and WHY. The individual marketing tactics you select are HOW you achieve the goals. If you have no solid strategy, then you will not know if the tactics you are selecting are actually leading you to success. If you do have a solid strategy, you know exactly who you are trying to reach and can better select marketing tactics to help you do so.
- Using the Wrong Mediums The whimsical way in which many dentists select their marketing investments can be baffling. They may have hit it off with a local printer and were sold on investing $20k in mailers that are terribly designed and don’t reach their target audience. The doctor’s decision making process is “well… I haven’t spent anything on marketing this year so I might as well give it a try.” Understand that mailers CAN be very effective. But also understand that the dentist in the above example almost certainly wasted their money because of the approach. If you are hoping to attract more All on X cases, targeting Instagram ads or TikTok videos to the retirement community is probably going to result in a big miss. What if instead you run inexpensive tv spots on their favorite daytime shows AND hit them with a well thought out mailer sequence? NOW you’re thinking like a clever marketer.
Dental Marketing is connecting a patient with your practice. It works. When done right.
Develop a strong strategy, based on realistic expectations, using the right mediums, while building up great reviews, and do it consistently. Follow this advice and you will avoid the momentum-derailing mistakes that too many of your colleagues make.