Coincidentally, I read in USA Today recently that the most used search phrase on Match.com is "cheap and easy". There you have it - confirmation you need to stay in the zone of missed opportunities.
Wake up... Wake up! Back to reality dude.
> Maybe Cheap and Easy; is neither great (or even good) dental marketing or words attributable to Match.com.
For example... I was in Las Vegas a couple years ago doing a dental marketing seminar. Near the end of my talk was a Q/A session. One of the first questions was a dentist asking, how much are postcards?
My answer today would have been... "Doctor, when the first question a patient asks is how much you charge, how much do you think they value dentistry or your expertise? If your marketing is based on price - you are most likely going to get little from the relationship."
Your patients' relationship with their dental health will determine much of what they will accept and how they will comply to your recommendations. Effective dental marketing goes beyond clicks, impressions and conversions, it creates a connective relationship with your audience
Unless dentists decide marketing is as vital as the dentistry they recommend and want to provide, very little will be communicated about the value of dentistry as compared to every other service or product consumers are confronted with.
Dentists need to STOP WAITING for patients to 'come around' and search them out -- of the blue. Otherwise, advertising of competing services, issues like dental fear and other 'delay and denial tendencies' will continue to diminish the consumer's dentist visit eagerness.
Once dentists find themselves behind the eight ball of ever-diminishing new patient numbers grasping for "cheap and easy" solutions fits the warped perspective they’ve created. This is similar to dental patients/consumers who have let their dental health go.
While $9,000 might seem like a lot to pay for 6 to 12 crowns or a few implants, coming in 5 or ten years earlier the cost might have been less than 1/10th that. Likewise, after dentists have survived without a comprehensive plan for many years, it is hard for them to upgrade even when they are confront with a dire situation.
Some day there will be DIY dentistry that consumers can download off the Internet, and they can bypass the professionals. What do dentists and consultants really know that I can’t figure out myself at 1/10th the cost?
Then again… Perhaps, both good dentistry and good marketing require something beyond cheap and easy to get "complete, lasting" results.
Something like… Being consistent about your communication and serious about its value in developing a successful, long term relationship with your dental patients. Rather than blow your entire dental marketing budget on a big burst of direct mail postcards or using them solely or any one BIG Online THINGIE, match up a few strategies to create an entire matrix of elements that will engage, remind and persuade.
I've seen a comprehensive strategy do wonders. It is not cheap. And yes, it can be complicated. When you can solve all the dental problems people have for less than most people expect and can explain and implement the solutions in 15 minutes or less, I will be right there with my cheap and easy solutions to every communication issue surrounding the delay and denial of dental care acceptance and compliance.
Back in the realm of reality, this is how dentists can improve their new patient situation. Start with a budget of 1 to 2% of gross practice revenues - then move towards 4% to 7% within 6 to 12 months. Dentists whose dental marketing has always been under the radar will need to prime the pump more significantly.
The Campaign Elements
- • Regularly send dental postcards or other direct mail
• Develop an external/outdoor advertising element that is 24/7 or nearly
• Converse with your audience and patients in a familiar environment
> Use a medium that the consumer ‘welcomes’ into their lives like a newspaper, magazine or radio.
• Yes, be online - with your dental office website and use search advertising
> Just don't expect the Web to have all the communication angles covered.
• Locate in many online spaces
> Add an online connection every so often.
*Just make sure your website is more than a postcard with a phone number. Because…
Use the medium in the right way - not as if it is about what you, the dentist, or web developer like or expect. Dental postcards are simplified because they are not 'requested' by the consumer. Websites should be created for the patient looking for the right practice/solution/environment. Being succinct is something English Majors demand and what salespeople want because the sale (or the conversion) is their focus.
Dental Websites are for dental patients who have one major concern - their own - usually complicated with emotion and anxiety. That means deep, individualized content for the various 'patient profiles' who will often want/need significant value proof to move forward. Succinct, short and sales copy is pathetic at improving the likelihood DENTAL consumers will do any more treatment than what they self diagnosed and/or their dental insurance will cover - previous to their 'conversion'.
As to conversions - those web visitors are the 'emergency dental patients' of online marketing and every time another dentist weaves their way to the web - they are fewer of them per dentist, which produces a swirling vortex of diminishing (converting) returns. Slam bam succinct conversions - promoted by English Major anal retentiveness and Web Designer sparse copy for site speed and for the artistry to breathe - usurp the value the web affords - limitlessness to do everything necessary to get more people to be healthier.
Technical knowhow in these specialties is more about exactness in the aggregate - not about how individual people deal with dentistry. The rules of writing and web-knowlogy need to conform to the reality of the human condition when considering dental treatment.
If a 'call to action, phone number and a beautiful design were the solution, over 10 years of online dental marketing would have improved these statistics: National Dental Health and Even High Income Households are still sitting on the dental visit sidelines.
Extraction from this whirlpool of narrowness requires more than analytics and statistics. Successful relationships are developed by using multi-platform and multi-level communication experience. While every website should have a good dose of web geek sleek, salespeople slam bam and writer pride insight -- including mine -- avoid the trap that dental sites are like any other site - which they are NOT.
Dentists should develop their websites as if they are focused on one kind of patient/one person. NO ONE READS THE ENTIRE WEBSITE!
If I have fears about going to the dentist, I am focused on how you are going to make me COMFORTABLE and not cause me PAIN! Show me the comfort. Tell me the stories of how patients felt like they were floating on HUGE clouds of FLUFFY PAINLESSNESS.
Change is a Coming - Deal With It!
The super secret and totally guaranteed marketing solution has saved a few practices - but they lack reality, which does little to change the reality of the dental consumer. That 'reality' is covered with anxiety, misperceptions, mistrust and denial and fairytale flim-flam marketing is not likely to change things.
What I do takes more time to ramp up and will cost more than most dentists plan on spending. This approach might require postponing college for all but your favorite child or at least going without that iJet you want, which Apple is introducing in 2025. Then again, if you can find that easy and cheap solution to a bazillion patients, I will eat my Apple iJet once it is delivered.
Invest in your future to avoid missing the boat on the next stage of dental care awareness. Otherwise, consumers will continue to drop through the 'cancelled their dentist visit again' trapdoor and descend into the 'dental disease has caught up to them' dungeon.
To Conclude: Cheap & Easy… Time to Meet Dental Reality
Going cheap into the night and taking the easy way out to lunch has done very little for dental health in this country. Dentists taking the same path with their marketing foster a lack of understanding in the value proper dental care provides and the vital reasons for regularly visiting the dentist.
My recommendation to dentists: communicate with the same assertiveness, professionalism and comprehensiveness put into the dentistry you provide and want patients to accept. Any other emphasis or strategy lacks the power to change the dynamic that has created the situation you are in.
Article by Dick Chwalek
For more direct guidance…