Dropdown Menu

Friday, September 27, 2013

Attracting New Patients Effectively – With Patience. (Part 2)

Tune up your marketing “engine”

Proactive marketing is much like a professional series car race: the race is not won or lost on the first lap. The race starts, and the car is fundamentally sound. It has four tires, a sleek frame, an engine that runs, and a driver who knows how to get around the track in a hurry. The most successful race teams are the ones that have the right approach, are consistent with their approach, and also make the needed adjustments along the way. We need to consider the competitive world of dentistry as a car race. The race is fast and the competition is fierce - and marketing is the engine that fuels your racing car to fly. The better tuned your engine, the faster you will get around the first lap, and the more competitive you will be for the long run ahead.

Your marketing “engine” has five main elements you need to manage and direct, while also ensuring they are integrated and mesh well together to achieve better overall performance. The five “gears” are as follows:

1. Your brand / practice identity: Don’t kid yourself - your practice name and your office logo are the first thing to project your image of a progressive-minded practice.

2. Your internet presence: Your advertising is what sparks interest or an idea to consider you. Your website and social media presence is what reinforces your credibility and provides a first taste of office atmosphere and patient experience.

3. Patient communication: Ask yourself this question: “On a scale of one to ten, how aware are my patients of the scope of treatment and services available at my practice?”

4. External marketing: Do the people living around your dental practice even know that you exist at all? Let alone the great patient experience they can expect upon joining your practice?

5. Your team: Are you making the most of your team meetings? The better you communicate with your business goals and marketing approach, the better your group can support your efforts.

Just like you expect a professional accountant to help you manage the big picture of your practice finances, you should expect a professional marketing company to help you manage the big picture of where you are going with your practice. Regardless of the stage of your practice, developing a marketing plan and a brand vision are key to long-term growth. Many practices can make the mistake of focusing too much on the details of a specific campaign or communication piece, without taking into account the long-term brand and marketing plan. The key to success and growth? Patience. Because the more committed you are to long-term marketing, the more opportunities you’ll get to be “top of mind” with potential patients. Choose patience – for more patients.

Bottom Line: This article advocates a long-term marketing strategy and promotes the message that… ‘patience’ is necessary to attract new ‘patients’.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Attracting New Patients Effectively – With Patience. (Part 1)

Author: Dan Pisek, Practice Marketing Coach

You probably know the numbers that make your practice tick. You are also aware of the value of a new patient in year one, year two and beyond. And knowledgeable of the revenue and profitability of each individual treatment or service being offered. However, perhaps you are not aware of the extent that practice marketing can be utilized to help realize these business goals.

In many conversations with dentists and practice office managers, the discussion seems to revolve around the desire for immediate results, and not “ bigger picture” thinking. This marketing planning approach, or “visioning”, is something that a planned, professional marketing approach can provide.

Be Pro Proactive Marketing

While your need for a new patient response is immediate, there might not be a need for a new dental office relationship in any local home on any given day. This is where a proactive and planned approach to marketing comes into play.

We had a client meeting recently where the dentist was very specific: he wanted a marketing campaign that would specifically deliver new dental implant cases to his office. He paid little mind to the fact that his competitive landscape was loaded with high-end practices all wanting these same cases. The discussion seemed to revolve around what the message for this specific campaign needed to be, and how it would be executed. However, the more difficult discussion was getting him to see the benefit of taking a big picture approach to realizing a bigger picture success.

This is called “brand building”. Starbucks, Mercedes, Nike: these are all brands you are aware of, yet they continue to do “marketing” and get their message out there. While the need to purchase might not be there today, when the successful dentist is ready to shop and choose their next car, the right marketing message can place Mercedes “top of mind” and immediately on the short list.

The key is to have the right message in your campaign – the right message is the right mix of design and copy. The design and copy needs to be all about the consumer. The overall message needs to be about them and not about you. The right message will connect with the target consumer and spark the desire to learn more about you.

The other important element to getting the right message out to your target audience is ensuring that you use the right media to deliver your message. Is it direct mail, magazine, outdoor advertising, transit, on the wall in the restroom of your favorite restaurant? You have many options, and you need to select the right one - the one which will connect with your target with the most frequency and reach, and stick with it for a while.

A great example of a successful marketing tool is our community newsletter program, where the goal is to attract families to our clients’ family dental practices. In our follow-up with these newsletter clients, many of them say it took two or three editions, but now clients in the local community almost expect it on a quarterly basis.

Friday, September 20, 2013

12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013

As the world continues to embrace social media the ways we use the social networks are becoming clearer. 

Twitter with its short and snappy messaging is very dependent on mobile usage and smart phones. The rise of the visual web is making Pinterest and Tumblr the fastest growing social networks on the planet. Google+ is no longer an afterthought and is embedded in Google’s web assets including Gmail, local checkins and the mobile Android ecosystems. 

Google is getting the data it wants from Google+. Demographics, usage and content popularity. This is feeding into how it is ranking search results and much more. The universes of content, social and search are being woven together and creating a web experience that looks more like magic everyday. The social and mobile web is becoming an extension of our lives as we share, search and upload photos. 

Artificial intelligence that adds other dimensions to humanity has already arrived but we just don’t notice it. We take it for granted. 

So what are the latest social media facts and statistics provided by the latest study by GlobalWebIndex for the second quarter of 2013?

#1. Google+ is catching up to Facebook
Facebook still dominates at 70% of account ownership but Google+ is not far behind at just over 50%. Keep in mind though that Google+ account is mandatory whenever you create a new Gmail account. This is pushing up the account ownership stats. No other social network has Google’s web assets leverage. 

The large Chinese internet user population is producing some large Chinese centric social networks including Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo and Qzone. So Facebook doesn’t just have Google+ breathing down its neck but the rise of China’s social networks will possibly be a threat in the future.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 1
#2. Facebook active usage still dominates
Facebook has nearly 50% of all the world’s internet users as active users. This is only set to increase as regions and countries in the developing world including Africa, Asia and South America get connected to the web.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 2
#3. Pinterest is the fastest growing social network
The visual web is driving the rise of Pinterest and Tumblr with growth rates of 88% and 74% respectively over the last 12 months. Twitter and LinkedIn though are still rapid risers with growth rates around 40%.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 3
#4. LinkedIn is the most popular for older users
LinkedIn is the network of choice for most knowledge workers and professionals. It is maybe the most conservative of the social networks due to the fact it is all about business. It is becoming more social as it has realized that will enhance its user penetration and attractiveness. The latest statistics show it having 7% of its users over 55 and 14% in the 45 to 54 age range.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 4
#5. Usage of social networks by older users is increasing
Social networks were and still are a hit with the younger demographics. Don’t think though that social media is for the teens. The increase in usage by the 55 to 64 year olds is greater than 100% for Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The young aren’t the only ones having fun.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 5
#6. Google+ dominates on monthly visits
Google+ has very large numbers on visits per month at 1,203 million. This has a lot to do with activity generated by visits to Google services (read Gmail) that is counted as a Google+ visit. Facebook visits are 809 million and Twitter had 416 million.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 6
#7. Facebook dominates social media engagement
What this graph doesn’t show is that engagement of all the social networks actually dropped in the last 12 months. Maybe we are becoming over saturated with social? Facebook though dominates with 62% of all its account owners being active in the last month of this study.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 7
#8. Facebook usage highest in North America
Facebook has 59% of all internet users in North America as active users. Google+ only achieves 15% and Twitter 25%.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image social media facts figures and statistics 2013 8
#9. Asia Pacific region dominates the social media landscape
When you have one region (Asia Pacific) with a very large population including two countries with more than 1 billion citizens each then these statistics shouldn’t surprise. This is despite the fact that it has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image social media facts figures and statistics 2013 9
#10. Uploading photos is the most popular activity on Facebook
Facebook has become the place to put your photos. This is not just from the desktop but the smart phone and the tablet. Facebook is making a big push to become even more mobile. What is surprising is the very low ranking of “like” as an activity on Facebook compared to the other actions.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 10
#11. Twitter is about daily activities
Do you get sick of hearing about what someone had for breakfast, where they have been or who they are talking to on Twitter? The figures show that Twitter is a lot about your daily activities. You could call it the personal news channel.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 11
#12. Google+ is a lot to do with photos
Google had a clean slate just over 2 years ago when it designed the user interface and feature and function set for Google+. Its banner and image display makes the user experience compelling, contagious and immersive. Photo uploads, that is one of the things that Google+ and Facebook in common.
12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013 image Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 12
Key findings: 
The study found these to be the major insights into social media usage 
  1. Active usage of the major, global social platforms is growing worldwide with mobile being the key driver 
  2. Google+ remains the second most actively used social network with 318.4 million active users in 31 markets 
  3. Emerging platforms have experienced notable growth in popularity since Q2 2012 with Pinterest and Tumblr being currently the fastest growing global social media 
  4. Facebook maintains the highest penetration of active users among account owners at 62% globally. This compares to 51% for Twitter and 44% for Google+ 
  5. Emerging markets remain more active on social networks compared with developed countries. In Q2 2013 South Africa had the highest proportion of active Facebook users: 68%. 
  6. Mobile and tablet usage is beginning to heavily impact social media usage with mobile having the biggest effect on Twitter which is used by 94 million active Twitter to share photos compared to 140 million on PC. This is the highest proportion of mobile vs. PC photos sharing of any social network
Click here: to read more about the author, Jeff Bullas, and to read more of his other interesting articles.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Success Begins By Taking Ownership Of Your Situation (Part 2)

A tale of two dentists

Six months ago, Dr. M decided to buy his first dental practice. He purchased his first new practice from Dr. R. Upon taking ownership of his new practice, Dr. M decided to take a very conservative approach with his transitioning plan. While he was the new face working in the practice, he did nothing else by way of making changes or taking ownership.

Dr. M called me recently to explain his situation in more detail, and let’s just say that his situation was not a good one. First of all, he paid a premium purchase price for this practice. He explained that currently, patients were coming in for their appointments and wanted to deal only with Dr. R. Dr. M was learning that Dr. R had a very unique way of running his practice, a unique style in managing his patient relationships, and a very “patient friendly” way of handling the financial side of his patient accounts.

Furthermore, the practice team that Dr. M inherited were all extremely loyal to Dr. R. Things were great for the team under Dr. R: premium wages, extra paid holidays, and regular trips away for training sessions. Having no relationship with his team to that point, they had high expectations of working standards and he had a serious financial obligation to Dr. R.

Dr. M was between a rock and a hard place. To add one more piece to this crisis, Dr. R had informed Dr. M that he was going to stop working at the practice in four months. With all of this, Dr. M had to get going with a change in approach to managing his practice. If he had any chance of realizing the type of success that he envisioned when he purchased this practice, he needed to disrupt the status quo and change the game to suit himself.

Conversely, Dr. E also purchased her first new practice last fall from Dr. S. This was a practice in a smaller town, where the selling dentist was very well known and well liked by his existing patient file and office team. For Dr. E, there was a lot to like about this practice. She had a vision for this perfect practice and her ideal lifestyle - and this practice purchase worked on all counts.

After the sale was official, Dr. E immediately went to work in making this practice “her” practice. Being very charismatic and personable herself, she made it her mission to personally meet everyone associated with the dental practice. While Dr. S was still working in the practice as an associate on a twelve month contract, she first engaged her team with her vision for the practice. Then she went about meeting every one of her patients that came in each day, with a smile and a warm hello.

On the strategic side of things, Dr. E understood the importance of having a professional marketing approach to support her in making this “her” practice. There were a lot of smart things happening at this dental office: the updating of their brand identity and office decor, the implementation of the first website the practice ever had, an introduction to an expanded scope of services, and continually communicating the respect that she had for Dr. S and her team. Dr. E wanted to ensure that the right message was getting out to her patients - the right way.

Last week, during my Marketing Team Rally Session with her and her team, it was clear to me that everyone was on board with Dr. E and her new dental practice.

The next step was to begin planning our strategy for how we would begin building awareness around her dental practice and herself in the local community. It was time to shift gears with our marketing into “new patient acquisition” mode.

To effectively transition a practice, your first six months of activity are very important to making the right first impression to everyone involved and to set yourself up for the success that you desire. Make sure that your first marketing priorities focus on brand development and existing patient retention. Once the house is in order and marketing foundation is in place, you can then begin actively growing your practice through external marketing channels and with the referrals of “your patient file”.

Bottom Line: This article uses a case study approach to explain the need for a professional marketing plan when transitioning a dental practice.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Success Begins By Taking Ownership Of Your Situation (Part 1)

Whatever the situation with your practice purchase, you can turn the corner more effectively if you immediately take “ownership” of your new business with a professional marketing approach – one that brings the doctor, the practice team, and the patient file, together as one. 

by: Daniel Pisek, Practice Marketing Coach

More and more young dentists today are starting their businesses by purchasing an existing practice -rather than building from scratch. This is especially true in more established cities, where many dental offices exist and competition is fierce. With dentistry becoming more competitive every day, dentists are seeing more value in getting a head start by purchasing patient files, rather than starting at ground zero. For them, the future business model is in “Transitioning A Practice”.

For every doctor looking to purchase an existing practice, there are many factors that influence a buying decision. While the number one factor in evaluating a practice is always the number and quality of the charts, there are also many other variables that need to be considered. For example, one must take into account practice location, storefront visibility, local community demographics, current branding identity, team dynamic, and marketing strategy. These variables need to be considered to really understand the current situation and business potential of that practice.

Having worked with many dentists to successfully transition their new practices, I will say that every case is unique - with its own storyline and cast of characters. Consider the associate dentist taking ownership of the practice after the principal dentist has passed away. Or the purchasing doctor who had a verbal commitment from the selling doctor to stay on for six to twelve months, only to have the selling doctor vanish forever after the sales contracts were signed. And the dentist who bought the state of the art practice in a great storefront location, but then realized that the practice had been terribly managed and patients were unhappy with inconsistent office hours and an unprofessional approach.

Whatever the situation with your practice purchase, you can turn the corner more effectively if you immediately take “ownership” of your new business with a professional marketing approach – one that brings the doctor, the practice team, and the patient file, together as one.

Continue Reading: Success Begins By Taking Ownership Of Your Situation (Part 2)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Buying A Dental Practice? (Part 3)

Plan your work… then work your plan

I’m a huge believer in creating marketing game plans that are tailored to each unique practice transition scenario. Whatever the transition X-factor, you need to consider these six best practices for you to achieve the business success that you desire:

1. Create your own brand identity
What is your vision for your practice? Just like any successful consumer product, your brand is what builds customer loyalty. It also differentiates you from your competition. Think carefully about the name and logo. Make sure it projects a professional image and conveys what your practice is about.

2. Focus inward first
You need to be proactive with communication to introduce yourself and your vision right from the start. I recently consulted for a dentist who had taken over a practice and then sat on a draft letter to patients for almost a year. Patients need to know you respect them. You need to communicate up front and with some frequency to set the tone for what patients can expect as the practice moves forward.

3. Internet presence is a must
With dentistry being so competitive, having a great website is an absolute must. Your website is the focal point of your marketing. Whether to build patient relationships, internal marketing or promote your practice outside of your office, people today want more information and your website is where they expect to find it.

4. Patients are ready to refer
Even as a new dentist taking over from a well-respected dentist, you can create a positive momentum for your new practice. Get your patients excited about your vision and you will be surprised how quickly you can get them promoting you to their family and friends.

5. Look around you
We all lead busy lives these days and knowing there’s a dentist close to home is a motivating factor for a lot of people. Target advertising to homes in the local area to professionally communicate your message. This will build positive brand awareness and attract quality new patients.

6. Practice marketing is a team sport
In taking over an existing practice, you've also inherited the team. They are an important resource in retaining patients. You may be the new guy, but the staff are trusted familiar faces that will comfort your patients. Get them on board with your vision through regular meetings. Make sure they know and can promote the goals and unique features of your practice.

In business as in life, first impressions are important. The better that first impression, the more likely we are to spark a relationship. So before you swing open the doors for business, make sure you have considered the benefits of taking a planned and professional approach for your marketing, along with the opportunity cost of just letting things happen on their own.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Buying A Dental Practice? (Part 2)

Understanding your transition X-factor

The financing, accounting and legal aspects of opening a dental practice tend to be pretty black-and-white. But in my experience supporting the marketing of transitioning practices, there are things that are not so clear. I call these the “practice transition X-factors,” and these X-factors come in many shapes and sizes. You need to tailor your marketing game plan to meet your specific practice transition situation. There are endless scenarios, but here are two stories of transitioning dental practices I have worked with in recent months that demonstrate this point.

The retiring doctor

A dentist purchased a practice from an established dentist who was retiring. The two had a good rapport and both wanted to see the practice succeed. It was agreed that the retiring doctor would stay on to work as an associate for a while, supporting the transition of the patient file.

My advice was to really leverage this good relationship to maximize patient retention.

The existing patients, and staff, loved the retiring dentist and were concerned about how the practice would change. But when they saw clear signs that he endorsed the new dentist they were more willing to trust her. We helped with a game plan that got the word out quickly about the new practice while showing respect for the patients, the old dentist and his staff. We helped write a letter of introduction that included a “feel-good” photo of the two dentists together. We rebranded the practice with a fresh new name, colours and logo. We also carried this into the look of the website.

They also hosted a patient appreciation event where clients could wish the retiring dentist well in his retirement and the new dentist could introduce herself, her vision for the practice and new services she would be offering. Like many older dentists, the retiring dentist offered basic dental services. This event was an ideal way to introduce ways to increase the value of the new dentist’s patient file.

By focusing on marketing inside of the practice first, she can now confidently reach out to begin professionally introducing her new practice in the local community to attract new clients.

The bankrupt doctor

A dentist purchased a practice from a dentist who had gone bankrupt. He’d invested a good chunk of money and was itching to get going with things to grow his new practice.

He wanted to jump in right away and start contacting the list of approximately 400 patients who were wondering where to go for their next dental appointment. While calling the patients was definitely urgent, my advice was to first channel his energy into planning a clear strategy.

We quickly got to work helping him rebrand the practice. He needed to show patients he’s not just the new dentist, but that he’s different, positive and committed to the success of the practice. We helped him create a new logo, and suggested he update the office with artwork and accent pieces that reflected his brand. It was also important to get this message out right away on the Internet. We designed a simple yet visually appealing website splash page that included a photo of the new dentist, a short introductory paragraph and contact information. This splash page was created with the short term in mind as we were building a full website to promote his practice.

Before beginning to phone the patient file, we provided a proper script to introduce the dentist. The phone calls were going to be made by the office manager, who had been with the former dentist. She was the best person to ease any hesitation they may have about trusting a new dentist.

Armed with a clear vision of his brand and strategy, the new dentist can now move his business forward with introducing new services and advertising in the community to attract new patients.

Continue Reading: Buying A Dental Practice? (Part 3)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Buying A Dental Practice? (Part 1)

By: Dan Pisek

Use Marketing to Deliver the Success That You Desire.

Congratulations on the purchase of your new dental practice. You've pulled together the financing, worked with your accountant to incorporate your business and the lawyer has gone over the contracts. You have the keys and a nice patient file to get you started. You’re all set to go… but are you? What’s your game plan for success?

Think like an entrepreneur

It’s one thing to buy an established practice; it’s another to make it work and keep those patients coming back. You have chosen to be a health care provider, and that means caring the best you can for your patients. But you’re also an entrepreneur and you need to think of your bottom line. Thinking like an entrepreneur starts with a clear vision of the success you desire. Successful entrepreneurs see spending money on a marketing program as important as the services of their accountant or lawyer. It’s an investment in your practice and one that I promise will give you an excellent return.

Marketing is much more than just handing out flyers.

I’ve worked with many dentists who call me six months after buying and opening their office, wondering why their business is not rolling the way they expected. They sent out an introductory form letter at the start, but that was all. Just because you purchased an existing practice with a list of 1,000 active patient accounts, this doesn't guarantee those patients will stick with you. Loyal clients are the lifeblood of any successful business and you need to do much more to build on these new patient relationships.

Prioritize your business goals.

When opening a new dental office from scratch, your one business goal is to attract new patients. Purchasing an existing practice is a different thing completely and includes three areas of focus:

1. Maximize patient retention
2. Increase the value of the patient file
3. Attract quality new patients

Continue Reading: Buying A Dental Practice? (Part 2)