Where is the ‘pain point’ in dental practice marketing right now? Thirteen years ago you might have asked, ‘Where do I start?’
Many practice owners and managers weren’t convinced that they even needed a marketing strategy.
Up until 2001, there was a body of opinion suggesting that, provided you obtained your dental qualification, you stuck your brass plaque on the wall and the practice opened, there would be enough people coming through the door for you to make a reasonable living.
But then, in that year, a pivotal point in the timeline of dental marketing came about when the newly formed Boots Dentalcare invested heavily in advertising teeth whitening treatments in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
The ‘would you like a whiter Christmas?’ campaign was a real game-changer for dentistry, as it went national and suddenly the public were on the receiving end of retail dental marketing for the first time. While it is commonly believed that Boots Dentalcare was a failure (although the real reasons for its sale were due to directional changes within the core business), the campaign proved to be a wake-up call for the dental profession as well as the public.
This was a singularity – it was an event after which things were not quite the same again.
Where are we now?
Fast-forward to 2014, and where is the ‘pain point’ in dental marketing now?
We are approaching another singularity, another game changing episode.
In the last five years, dentists have accepted the need to build a good website and even more recently, they have realised the potential of social media engagement as part of their activity.
It has been clear for some time that practices need to create marketing systems that allow them to attract interest from strangers and searchers, gain recommendations and promote additional sales to their existing patients. The challenge now comes in knowing where and how to market for optimum results.
There are three main marketing methods for UK dental practices: internet-based, word of mouth and direct marketing, which is essentially advertising.
The market has become so complex with so many different ‘jigsaw pieces’, that a lot of dental practice owners or managers are once again lost and are asking: ‘Where do I start?’
It may be that you decide to throw money into online activities or at advertising, but how do you know if it is working or not? How do you measure your Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)?
I am frequently asked three questions by practice principals and business or practice managers:
- How much cash should I be investing in marketing?
- How should that investment be divided between the different marketing activities that I could get involved in?
- Which of these marketing avenues are likely to be the most successful?
One of the options I am probably most excited about at the moment is the area of internet-based marketing, which includes what should your website look like, which social media channels should you be visible on and how should you use them for success.
But there is the hot potato of Google, Pay per Click, Ad words and SEO – all of which are moving largely out of reach for the small independent practitioner.
I have seen this confusion of choices accumulate in recent years and have spent more and more time listening to your concerns. When enough people are asking you the same question – you know that you have identified a problem that needs a solution.
As such, at 7connections we questioned whether there was a more efficient way to get the message across and provide solutions. What if we created a 12-month programme, answering all the questions we have mentioned above in a literal, step-by-step guide?
Our answer is to create The Ultimate Marketing Academy, so that we can tell practices exactly what they should be doing and how they should allocate their resources.
The training programme is designed to share marketing tactics that have worked for other businesses both in the UK and abroad, from within dentistry and outside, as well as to introduce some of the latest innovations in marketing. Quarterly Academy meetings will bring all the practices together in a workshop environment where we will ‘show and tell’ the marketing tactics that are working, share the latest information and updates.
Between the meetings, we will follow up on those practices that join us to offer support and make sure the new strategies are implemented effectively.
If you are feeling the pain of marketing and need clear direction on what you should be doing to help grow your business, you are certainly not alone.
There are ways you can make the process easier and more successful, and a clearly defined 12-month plan might be just what you need.