Magnetic dental marketing is all about attracting new patients. You have walking billboards that frequently attract interest—your team. Individuals who work in dental offices can turn inquiries into dental patients very easily by following some simple steps.
- When team members leave the office wearing clothing with the practice name and logo, they frequently attract attention. “Where do you work?” “Oh, is that a dental office?” “I’ve heard of that dentist.” These are questions people ask when they see a doctor’s name emblazoned on a shirt.
- If the person wants to end the conversation at that point, then that is their choice; but if the discussion goes further, then talk up the practice by giving your 15-second practice summary. Click here for my podcast on that topic.
- Offer the person who asked the question a business card and answer the questions that are posed.
- Ask them open questions to determine if they need a dentist. Many people will ask for advice about a dental problem and are eager to hear what you have to say. If they need more information or you think could benefit from seeing the doctor, proceed to the next step.
- Ask for their business card. If they have one, that’s great; if not, give them another one of your cards and use this script: “Please write your name and contact information on the back of this card. If you like, I will have our office manager contact you to answer questions and help you make an appointment.”
- Tell the prospective patient that, if they prefer, they should call the office to make an appointment. Here’s the script: “Call the office and mention my name. Say that I said to get give you priority and get you in as soon as possible.” Now the new patient has clout. The patient can call the office and use your name to get special consideration. You are using magnetic dental marketing to encourage someone to call the office.
- Make sure that everyone who answers the phone in the office knows that a team member has made a contact. The script is as follows: “Yesterday I met a woman named Jane while I was out shopping. If she calls, say that you have been expecting her call and that you will give her priority scheduling because she knows me.”
Note how each step makes the person feel important and enhances the likelihood that the person will call the office. This is magnetic dental marketing. Attracting new patients is all about seizing opportunities, making people feel special, and seeing the process through to the happy conclusion–a new patient on the books.
Have you heard of “the curse of knowledge?” If an astrophysicist tries to help a high school student with his Algebra I homework, the supremely educated adult may not understand why the student just does not get it. Part of the answer is that the astrophysicist knows too much—that which is obvious to the scientist may leave the student oblivious.
Micah Soloman has an interesting article in Forbes on the curse of knowledge. Mr. Soloman writes:
“In healthcare, where the stakes are extremely high, the patient experience and patient satisfaction often suffer from devastating manifestations of the curse of knowledge. It can lead healthcare workers to deal poorly with the distress experienced–because they’ve seen a similar non-life threatening situation (say, a broken ankle) so many times before and it always turned out all right that they discount the pain and fear experienced by someone for whom this is happening now.”
A similar scenario plays out in dental offices every day. A patient is scheduled in an endodontist’s office for root canal therapy. Let’s say that the patient has been told by his brother-in-law that root canals are very painful. The brother-in-law is seldom right but never in doubt, even though he has never personally had this procedure.
Based on modern misconceptions of root canal therapy and comments from his uninformed brother-in-law, the patient is very nervous upon arrival at the office. To allay the patient’s fears, team members in the endodontist’s office may simply say, “Everything is going to be fine.” This message is part of their mantra because every day patients show up afraid and leave saying that they cannot believe the root canal was so easy. This message, though meant to be helpful, may not be Continue reading Dental Marketing: The Patient’s Point of View
A new dentist joins an established dental practice. Let’s call this individual Doctor Newcomer. The owner of the practice, Dr. Established, has high hopes for the freshly minted dental graduate. Dr. Established thinks that Dr. Newcomer will pick up clinical speed and confidence and one day be ready to take over the practice.
Dr. Newcomer soon learns that one of the hardest aspects of joining a private practice is dental practice management. Not only is Dr. Newcomer inexperienced in dental marketing, but there are added pressures of managing the team.
Dr. Newcomer is relatively young. It is quite natural for the new, young dentist to hang out with the team, swap stories, and talk about the road ahead. The problem is that the new dentist is often drawn into the staff orbit. He or she relates to team members rather than Dr. Established, who is the boss.
Bad habits and patterns soon emerge. Team members bring Dr. Newcomer into their confidence and Dr. Newcomer reciprocates. Before long, even in the most professional dental offices, Dr. Newcomer unwittingly crosses the line and starts to share gossip with the team. Inevitably, someone makes an unflattering comment about Dr. Established, and Dr. Newcomer is in the middle of this cabal.
Dr. Newcomer is not savvy in the ways of office politics. He or she does not yet know that there are no secrets in a dental practice. Dr. Established finds out that Dr. Newcomer is talking about him behind his back. In the eyes of Dr. Established. Dr. Newcomer has become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
The best way to guard against this scenario is to be aware of it at the outset. Dr. Established needs to make it clear to the entire team that the management structure of the practice has changed. It now consists of Dr. Established and Dr. Newcomer. There needs to be respect throughout the team for everyone’s position, and the role of Dr. Newcomer needs to be clear to everyone on the team from day one.
David Schwab Ph.D.
The last place one might expect to learn about dental marketing is at a casino in Las Vegas, but during my recent visit to Caesar’s Palace, I noticed some savvy marketing that every dentist can use.
I was in Las Vegas for the American Academy of Implant Dentistry meeting, which I enjoyed very much. I had dinner in the hotel at the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. The restaurant was crowded so I opted to eat the bar. I watched a football game on television and ordered from the regular restaurant menu.
The bartenders were interesting to watch. They served food and drinks, kept up a friendly banter to engage the patrons, and they provided an exceptional level of service. With their peripheral vision, the bartenders could see someone signaling at the far end of the bar. They served quickly, cleared plates, and made eye contact with customers often.
I noticed that the bartenders took pride in their work and exhibited a high degree of professionalism. They anticipated their customers’ needs and provided prompt service without hovering over anyone or being pushy. The bar patrons could sit back and relax, because the pros were taking good care of them while exhibiting a great attitude, high energy, and a commitment to their profession.
The ability to scan the room and anticipate needs is also important in dental marketing. Having a laser focus on patients and letting them know that their needs will be met and their questions answered will help engender trust and respect in patients.
Many patients have told me that their have respect for their dentist and they have also often commented on the team. People notice when the staff exudes competence and a can-do attitude.
If you want to show your patients great attitude and not just talk about it, take the team to a busy restaurant and bar where the waiters and bartenders give it their all. It will be motivational and educational for the entire team and important lesson in dental marketing.
David Schwab Ph.D.
While many practices make great efforts to attract new patients thorough dental marketing, there are practices that are losing patients at the first point of contact. I call dental practices all the time and my personal impression is that more practices are experiencing busy times during the day when they cannot answer the phone. Instead of a live person providing a greeting, patients sometimes get a recording.
There are two issues here and two very good solutions. First, being adequately staffed to answer the phones is very important but often either overlooked are rationalized away as not possible. The same practices that attend dental practice management courses and other dental seminars and come away convinced that they should provide “Ritz-Carlton” service often miss the primary reason for the success of Ritz-Carlton: the company is always well staffed with helpful people.
I have checked into discount hotels late at night when the check-in line literally snaked through the small lobby and outside the building. At the Ritz, there are always plenty of well trained staff to expedite the check-in process, answer the phone, and handle guests’ needs.
In a dental practice, if you expect people to pay your fees for extensive treatment, then you need to cover the phones, even during busy times when all lines are ringing and multiple patients are checking in and out.
I know that some people will say that due to staff budget constraints, it is just not possible to provide adequate phone coverage 100% of the time. If this scenario has to happen, then my second recommendation is to have a specific outgoing message that callers will hear when you are busy. Instead the usual, after-hours outgoing message, put a special message on your voicemail system that says something like this: “Thank you for calling Dr. Smile’s office. Our office is open today. If you got this message it just means that we are busy for a moment but we will call you right back. Please leave your name and number and we will return your call in five minutes.”
For the busy potential new patient who is calling during his or her coffee break, this message is reassuring. The patient now knows that you are in the office, you care about the call, and you will call back momentarily. This is great dental marketing!
By following these two dental marketing tips, you will lose fewer patients and capture more new patients at the first point of contact.
David Schwab, Ph.D.
I know they are out there. It’s a question of finding them and bringing them into your practice with adroit dental marketing. One middle-age woman with a mouthful of broken down teeth, an unattractive smile, and significant periodontal disease recently completed dental implant treatment. She found the dental office that helped her when she responded to the practice’s Internet advertising. For years, this individual had driven past countless dental practices. She had no doubt been bombarded by ads promising replacement teeth and a beautiful new smile. Until one day, she searched on the Internet, clicked an ad that caught her eye, and made the decision to make a new patient appointment. Her life was changed forever.
This success story reminds us that demographics are destiny: we have an aging population with significant unmet dental needs. At my recent lecture at the American Academy of Implant Dentistry in Las Vegas, I identified four major challenges in dental marketing, specifically dental implant marketing:
- Increasing competition. There was a time when dental implants were placed only by specialists, but now general dentists routinely offer this service. Dental implants have gone mainstream. Trying to get a patient into your practice for implant dentistry is harder because every dentist around you has the same idea.
- Downward pressure on fees. With more competition and some very aggressive pricing in the market place, patients are seeing eye-popping fees for dental implants. It is harder for traditional practices to justify their fees, which nonetheless remain quite justifiable.
- It is difficult to cut through the clutter and get your message out. Doctors are honing websites, testing Google ads, and using more targeted television advertising to find patients who need their services. It’s not about “mass mailings” any more; it’s about precise demographic and geographic targeting.
- People often have priorities other than needed dental implant treatment. The patient I described above is now delighted with her new teeth, but she rationalized her procrastination for years before seeking treatment.
While marketing challenges have multiplied, the profession’s ability to deliver implant dentistry in an efficient and predictable manner has also increased. I will discuss specific marketing strategies in future blogs. Finding the “right” patients requires finely-tuned dental marketing, but every day we are reminded that they are out there.
David Schwab, Ph.D.