The need to attract new patients, upsell to existing patients and increase referrals makes marketing a major topic throughout the business of dentistry. We talk a lot about return on marketing investment (ROMI), which, quite understandably, you need to see when spending your hard earned cash.
The reality is that all marketing works. I came across a comic example of this when two dentists bought an old practice in London that needed a complete overhaul. Not only did the practice itself need refurbishing and reorganising, but they also needed to attract a lot of new patients. One of the partners (who is about six feet tall) decided to dress as a tube of toothpaste and hand out flyers outside the local tube station. It worked well – he was quite difficult to miss for obvious reasons, and most people will take a leaflet. While the majority of those leaflets would have gone straight in the bin, a noticeable percentage of those who took the flyers visited the practice. I’m happy to say that their marketing systems are now slightly more sophisticated, but the reality is that there was a response and a measurable ROMI.
This goes to show that you are not simply measuring whether your marketing works or not – you’re trying to prioritise your activities in order to focus on those that offer the highest ROMI and are most sustainable.
The mistake that some practice owners or managers make is to change their campaigns frequently, following a lower than expected ROMI in the first few months. When they don’t see the return they desire within three to six months, this leads them to a lose interest in that particular activity and therefore put a stop to it. Perhaps a patient newsletter is sent out for six months and when a small response is received it is discontinued. Or a practice team may decide to man a stall at a couple of wedding fairs and after receiving little interest don’t attend again. This fails to appreciate that dental marketing is a jigsaw; each piece of the jigsaw represents a different marketing activity, and you need many pieces for the overall picture to work.
This also fails to recognise that for successful marketing, you need to play the long game. Radio advertisements need to run for two to three years, A-board signs need to be on the pavement for three to four years – while they may change or adapt to current issues, new products or services, that is how long it can take to gain the visibility and build the reputation and trust needed.
It’s difficult to measure the ROMI effectively. The most important aspect of that measurement is the conversation that takes place with each new patient, which determines the exact journey taken that led to them visiting the practice. Almost always, the answer will fall into three categories: ‘via the web’, word-of-mouth and miscellaneous or no record. For the former group, the questioning technique used and the conversation taking place is often not sophisticated enough to provide any more accurate data.
Similarly, people will visit the website because the practice was recommended by a friend, because they saw a poster or heard a radio ad. You need to dig deeper and construct a detailed route map of how patients discovered the practice and what made them actually visit. In some cases, a combination of various different marketing activities may have been involved, so all need taking note of. You therefore need to introduce a level of data collection and analysis that enables a more accurate understanding of the priority of marketing activities implemented. From here, your marketing budget can be allocated more efficiently to support those avenues that are working most effectively.
As part of our ultimate marketing academy at 7connections, we share a monthly marketing report template with practices to help create clear and concise evaluations of key metrics. It covers:
• Total reach
• Reach by channel
• Total website visits
• Website visits by source
• Total leads generated
• Leaded generated by source
• Total customers driven by marketing
• Marketing generated customers by source
• Visit-to-lead conversation rate
• Lead-to-customer conversation rate
• Visit-to-customer conversation rate.
Visual graphs are then produced for a clear perspective on marketing success, and these are updated automatically as new data is added. ith such tools, tracking and analysing your marketing efforts becomes much simpler. You can not only ensure that your strategy is tailored to focus on the activities that work best for you, but also establish and demonstrate your ROMI with ease.
Chris Barrow is a founding partner with 7connections business coaching. He has been a consultant to the dental profession for more than 20 years and offers high-end coaching expertise to take advanced practices to the next level. www.7connections.com