Category Archives: marketing

Golden principles of dental marketing

The 4 Golden principles of marketing which shouldn’t be ignored

There are four Golden principles with marketing which, if you choose to ignore you do so at your peril.  HOW  you choose to implement each of these four steps will be very personal to you, but whatever you do make sure you go through every step.

Those four steps follow the mnemonic AIDA


Before anyone  can take any action at all, before they can come to your dental practice, before they can phone, before they can visit your website you need to capture their attention.  They need to know  that you physically exist and that you are there.

The first stage of any marketing campaign should be to grab people’s attention. If you were at the recent dentistry show in Birmingham think big drums, bhangra music and oompahloompahs! Big drums, bhangra music and oompahloompahs may not be how you wish to grab people’s attention, that’s fine but the principle remains, in order for anyone to take any action at all  they need to know you exist and this kind of marketing, along with people like  Richard Branson and sailing around the world in a balloon is brilliant at grabbing people’s attention.


Once we’ve grabbed someone’s attention and they know you exist we can start to pique the interest. This is where marketing becomes far more subtle, this is where telling patient stories begins, this is where we begin to engage  with a prospect, gently helping them solve whichever problem it is that they have… Missing teeth, crooked teeth, ugly teeth (In their eyes) etc.

This is using e-mail marketing on the website to collect prospects e-mail addresses in exchange for a free downloadable guide and then gently dropping them into an automated systematic  e-mail marketing campaign, all very gentle and NOT SELLING!

Step 3 – DESIRE

Once we have grabbed someone’s attention and they know you exist and we have created some form of interest in solving their problem we can then work on the third stage which is creating desire.

Showing prospects before and after photographs of patients in similar situations to them can help create a desire. Talking about the problem and the solution is an important step here also.

Step 4 – ACTION

Without action the three previous steps become pointless, this is where using marketing speak and language is vital.  When someone lands on your website  or receives an e-mail, what do you want them to do? Call us today, phone us today, request a free consultation today are all phrases which can be used with great effect.

Incentives to take action can also work in the form of free consultations or refunds of initial assessment… Think about specific things  which will prompt someone to take action… Simply having a request an appointment form on your website is  NOT suggesting that someone takes an action.


The steps above are WHAT you should do, they do not in any way tell you HOW you should do them. Oompahloompahs and bhangra music may not be for you, you may choose something  more subtle or even more outlandish in order to generate attention  about your service/product.

What ever you choose to do remember, with out these four steps your marketing won’t work.


live chat on a dental website, why it works!

20121108_105013Do you use a live chat facility on your website? In my opinion, you should… And here’s why…And also how …(especially as you can set this up for free!).

In a service based industry such as dentistry it can often be very difficult for a patient to evaluate your services, one of the key ways they do this is by your RESPONSIVENESS. [SERVQUAL Parasuraman et al 1988].

Logic would suggest that if a patient wants to contact you they will phone or e-mail however, this is not always the case. Having run live chat for the past few months on the websites of 15 dental practices I can report that:

  • Patients often ask questions relating to the practice location/address (one would think that they could simply look at a map).
  • Patients want to request an appointment  but feel more reassured when they do this live with someone via chat.
  • Patients want to know the price of various dental treatments, even though they are clearly displayed on the website.
  • Patients just find a live chat  more comforting than sending an e-mail as they know that the message has been answered immediately.

Having a live chat facility engenders a considerable amount of trust towards your practice and reduces risk, I strongly suggest you set this facility up.

Setting up live chat

Setting up live chat comes in three simple stages:

  1. Create a free account on
  2. Design your chat widget
  3. Add the widget code to your website or send to your designers

Stay signed in to and you will receive live chat as they come in from the website

That’s it!

It really is that simple, there is even an Android and iPhone app.

Go give it a try, it’s free!

And yes, I appreciate that it might be difficult to manage this front of house… So if you’d like to run a website chat facility on your own dental practice website, give me a call/email and we can talk about managing this for you at very little cost.

Examples of REAL LIFE conversations

Here follows a couple real life transcripts, notice how often the patient is asking about prices, if one just simply answered with the price the conversation will probably be over, engaging the patient in conversation helps them understand your services and engenders trust.

The interesting thing is that this patient was asking about prices and yet was on the fees page  of the practice website when they initiated the chat.

  • [16:36]                XXXXXXXX: Name : XXXXXXXX
  • [16:36] Mark – Patient Support has joined the conversation
  • [16:36] Mark – Patient Support: hi XXXXXXXX, how may I help?
  • [16:37] XXXXXXXX: Hello, ow much are incognito braces roughly?
  • [16:37] Mark – Patient Support: I need a little bit more information… What is it that appeals to you about incognito braces?
  • [16:38] XXXXXXXX: Im 22 and last couple years top and bottom teeth have become over crouded and gone out of shape and im too old to wear traditionall braces
  • [16:41] Mark – Patient Support: okay, I see, that is very helpful to know. There are actually a few options which might be able to help, invisible braces could also work and possibly dental bonding or veneers on only a few teeth. This could bring the price down dramatically. I’m not able to discuss full pricing on this chat facility as every price is bespoke for each patient as we like to treat each individual in a tailored way. I can arrange for a free consultation, with no obligation if you would like one?
  • [16:43] XXXXXXXX: So your saying instead of braces it could be possible to target individual teeth? And where abouts in XXXXXX are you based?
  • [16:44] Mark – Patient Support: yes, it is often possible to target individual teeth, without actually seeing you it’s impossible to say whether this is an option though 🙂 this is our full address XXXXXX
  • [16:44] XXXXXXXX: Do you offer finance?
  • [16:44] Mark – Patient Support: yes, we are able to arrange finance 🙂
  • [16:45] XXXXXXXX: Could you book me an appointment? Please
  • [16:45] Mark – Patient Support: certainly, I just need some information from you, your phone and e-mail address
  • [16:46] XXXXXXXX: 075 XXXXXX
  • [16:48] Mark – Patient Support: brilliant, thank you, is there a best day and time for you to be seen?
  • [16:49] XXXXXXXX: I usually work shifts so im tuesdays or thursdays
  • [16:49] Mark – Patient Support: is there any time of day that works better for you?
  • [16:50] XXXXXXXX: Early as possible please.
  • [16:51] Mark – Patient Support: okay, wonderful thank you so much. I have sent all of your details through to the reception team who are now checking their appointment diary, they will be in contact with you very shortly. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
  • [16:51] XXXXXXXX: No thank you, you’ve been very helfull.
  • [16:52] Mark – Patient Support: wonderful, have a good afternoon/evening
  • [16:52] Mark – Patient Support has left the conversation

In this following example it could be argued that the patient could simply pick up the phone, however  as you can see patients often like to chat with someone live via the website.

  • [09:54] V14: Hello, I recently moved to the area (and away from my family dentist!) and I am not the best patient… but I think it is about time to quit being a coward and get a new dentist.
  • [09:55] Mark – Patient Support has joined the conversation
  • [09:55] Mark – Patient Support: hi there, welcome on chat, may I take your name please?
  • [09:55] V14: XXXXXXX
  • [09:56] Mark – Patient Support: XXXXXXX, we can certainly help with this, whereabouts do you live?
  • [09:57] Mark – Patient Support: OK, you are just around the corner from us, would you like me to arrange an initial consultation for you?
  • [09:58] V14: Yes please
  • [09:58] Mark – Patient Support: please may I take a phone number and e-mail address for you
  • [09:58] V14: XXXXXXX – XXXXXXX
  • [09:58] Mark – Patient Support: is there a better day and time for you to come?
  • [10:00] V14: On my way home would be appreciated… maybe a 17:00 appointment on any weekday but Wednesday?
  • [10:00] Mark – Patient Support: okay, one quick question, how did you hear about us?
  • [10:01] V14: I walk passed your surgery each day!
  • [10:01] Mark – Patient Support: lovely, thank you, XXXXXXX. I have passed all of your information on to our reception team, I don’t have full access to the appointment book at my location, they will contact you directly. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
  • [10:02] V14: No thanks! G’bye
  • [10:02] Mark – Patient Support: thank you, have a good day
  • [10:02] Mark – Patient Support has left the conversation

How to Make Best Use of Your Facebook and Google Reviews

So many people are working really hard to collect as many Facebook and Google reviews as possible, but what can you do with them once you’ve got them?

Of course they look great on your Facebook and Google profiles but here are a couple of examples of how you can use them in other situations.

Encouraging more people to request an appointment

I’ve written many times about the issue of trust in dentistry; reviews add social proof to your website and this proof that you are trustworthy can increase conversion rates.

Whenever we ask someone to do something on our website, for example request an appointment, using social proof next to the ‘call to action’ can increase conversion rates.

Here’s an example of using Google reviews right next to an appointment request form.

Reviews and request an appointment

Adding value to your fees/prices page

One of the most visited pages on any dental practice website if the fees page. If all you list are just your fees without adding value then you are doing yourself a disservice. Without letting patients know what they get when they spend an amount of money is a surefire way of making yourself look expensive!

A great way to add value to the service you offer is to let your happy patients do that marketing for you. A simple way to do this is to add Facebook reviews directly to your website, Here’s an example.


How to add a Facebook review to your website.

Locate the reviews on your Facebook page, once you have done this click on them.

Locate the reviews on your Facebook page

Choose the review you wish to embed, then click on the little arrow top right to bring down a list of options.

Choose the review

Click on the embed option.

Click embed

Copy the code and paste this into your website on the fees page.

Embed code

You now have an interactive review on the fees page of your website which goes a significant way to reduce risk.

Advantages of using embedded reviews are:

  1. They are much harder to fake, anyone can make up a review, but not anyone can get a review from a real person on Facebook.
  2. Because people can interact with the review by commenting it demonstrates a trustworthy organisation that is open and transparent.
  3. Because there is openness and transparency the patient can see that this review is not being manipulated… unless it’s obvious that you have reviewed yourself 🙂

I’d love to know your thoughts also…

Do you know what the most popular day and time is for patients to contact you?

Business metrics are a fundamental part of running a successful business and phone calls form part of these excellent metrics that you can gather and use.

If you know when your patients are most likely to contact you then you can alter staffing levels and holidays accordingly.

Simple analytics from a Google My Business profile can show you the time of day and day of the week most popular for phone calls.

Screenshot 2016-07-14 11.24.49

Screenshot 2016-07-14 11.26.31

The data is taken from the number of times people click on your phone call from a Google search.

Suddenly having a Google my business page not only increases click to the website, exposure to the practice but also gives you some great metrics on which to base staffing decisions.

Nice work Google.

If it moves in marketing…measure it!

This is a guest blog post by Dee Gerish of Clear Vision Accountancy.


When Mark offered me the chance to write a blog for his followers, I knew what my message had to be…

new enquiries via website

Something which helps to improve the results you see from your marketing. Something which it is vital for every dentist to do…

Measure your numbers!

Now as a dental business consultant working for a firm of accountants, you’d expect me to say that.

But I’m not talking about regular turnover, revenue and cost figures here. These are the obligatory numbers most accountants help you prepare and then stop.

At Clear Vision we like to help dentists go further. In fact, we unashamedly bang on about additional numbers you won’t find in your accounts: Key Performance Indicators or KPIs.


Because it’s these numbers which influence your financial results. These are the underlying numbers which drive your financials and make them better. So you see more growth and more profits. And you can better achieve your business and personal goals.

When you improve your KPI results, your financial results improve. So you can see it makes sense to focus on them, doesn’t it?

In marketing terms, KPIs include where your new patients have come from, so you can be sure what forms of marketing are working for you. Plus you can work out what return on investment you are seeing from each of your marketing activities, do more of what works and stop paying for what doesn’t (or find a better way to do it). So measure this and you can minimise your marketing budget.

Also when you know how many new patients you currently generate per month via your website, you can test and measure the results of the on-page changes you make, for example, and how well these amendments perform in compelling more of your website visitors to choose your dental practice.

You can go further and measure the results of a particular online campaign. You can do this by setting it up to be monitored in your Google Analytics data – I’ll leave Mark to tell you more about this!

So you measure to improve.

You can also measure to compare.

Ever wondered how your numbers stack up against those of other UK dentists?

From the abundance of monthly KPI results we collect from dentists across the UK, we can tell you that around 10% of UK dentists succeed in getting some 225% more new patients from their websites every month than the rest.

As a friend of Mark Oborn, you’ll welcome to order your own copy of our 2012 Dental Business KPI report to find out what these dentists are doing differently to achieve this. You’ll see this report reveals other average results for dentists too, such as average UK recall figures and other new patient data.

Have a read and remember – look after your KPIs and better results will come.

Specialist dental accountants and dental business consultants Clear Vision Accountancy help make a difference to the lives of dentists across the UK. The team has been working with dentists every week since 2001 and you can read the insights and best advice they have to share in their blog for dentists.

How Many Pages Should You Have in Your Website?

dental websitesRight you want to create a new website for your dental practice? But how big should it be, because you know that the more pages you have the more it’s going to cost you to have built!

The first question you need to ask is what you want your website to do?

If you are going to drive people to your website by using conventional off-line marketing, such as leaflets, flyers, radio or some other form of marketing and all you need is for the website to provide a point of contact with a small amount of information about your practice, then a small eight-page website would do the trick – something which pages like this.

  1. Home
  2. About Us
  3. Treatments
  4. Testimonials
  5. Find Us
  6. Fees
  7. Cases
  8. Contact Us

Now, if you are looking for a website that you want to rank on Google, and you wish for the website to do more than be an online brochure and to be a way of attracting new patients to the site when they search on the Internet for things like ‘dental implants <location>’ or ‘teeth whitening <location>’ Then you are going to need significantly more than the simple eight pages listed above.

Think of Google like a librarian in a library and a page on your website like a book in that library. The librarian will want to find the correct book for a person when they are searching to solve their specific problem. A librarian will look through the titles, the content and possibly the images in a specific book to work out if it matches the needs of the person looking.
Of course the book that is about only 18th-century ships will be more relevant to the person searching, and so the librarian is more likely to give them this book than a book that is about other subjects too.Let’s suppose a person looking in that library wants a book about 18th-century ships, which book do you think is more relevant? A book that is only about 18th-century ships, or a book that is about 18th-century ships, 18th-century food, 18th-century dress and 18th-century politics?

Google will do the same, if a person is looking for teeth whitening and your treatment pages have teeth whitening, dental implants, facial aesthetics, dentures and Crown & Bridge then Google will decide not to send the visitor to that page… That page is simply about too many subjects, and Google wants to ensure that the page it sends a searcher to is exquisitely relevant to what the searcher wants.

Now you understand this principle, you will see that you need to have individual treatment pages for every treatment that you offer. In this way you can send a clear message to the librarian in the Google library what exactly you will look (web page) is about.

So how many pages should you have in your website now?

Mark’s Top 5 Tips to Being a Unique Dental Practice

Dentists are dentists are dentists. This, unfortunately, is the view of many people I talk to that aren’t involved in dentistry. And to make matters worse, many dentists seem to think the same by not giving potential patients any form of ‘Unique Selling Point’ or USP.

A USP is vital.

Your USP should be ingrained within every part of your being and be recalled at the slightest drop of a hat with no hesitation or faltering.

If a person says ‘Why you?’ then you should be able to answer instantly (and so should the whole team)… and ‘because we’re the best’ just doesn’t cut it any more… everyone says that!

So here are my top 5 tips for generating your USP:

  1. List what you do really well
  2. Add your name to things
  3. Systematise what you do
  4. Name your system
  5. Ignore the competition

List what you do really well

Take qualifications, certificates, high tech equipment, experience, practice location, practice decor and layer it all together. Look for things that are fairly unique about you, they don’t have to be totally unique, but rare is good.

Then create a single sentence that encapsulates it all, layering in each item.

It’s the combination that makes you unique, so be really explicit about it and blow your own trumpet, so to speak

Add your name to things

No-one else has your name, so use it. Plonk in front of things. The ‘Dr XYZ technique for Whiter Teeth’ no no-one can say they do it the same way as you

Systematise what you do

When you do teeth whitening you might take a shade take before, do surgery whitening, top up with home, do a post op shade take and take some photos. That’s 5 steps so now you have the ‘Dr XYZ 5 step technique for Whiter Teeth’.

If you can then layer in some of the items from your list of things you can add extra steps and extra uniqueness. For example, you might have a fruit juicer at the practice – you can then add this as a step 6 for extra uniqueness

Name your system

Come up with as many steps and systems as you can, then give them all a name. Perhaps something that reflects what you do at  the practice or your philosophy. Whitening can have grades ‘velvet white’, ‘smooth white’, ‘ice white’… “Dr XYZ’s Ice White 6 Step Teeth Whitening”

Give the whole system a name and even consider branding and protecting the rights to it. This makes it totally unique and simply can not be copied by anyone.

Ignore the competition

By ignoring what others do you can be creative and are less tempted to simply copy. I say this partly in jest as of course you need to keep a sharp eye on what the competition are doing, but simply copying is not good enough!

Use their ideas and build upon them, take some time during team meetings to work on your uniqueness and ensure the whole team get the idea and concepts.

Good luck and keep me posted on you progress… 

Everyone Knows we all Make Communication Difficult With our Patients

Language is a fascinating thing, one word out of place can convey completely the wrong message – take this for example:

“Teeth Whitening is for young men and women”

This phrase has what we call ‘scope ambiguity’, who are young? Is it just the men or can the women be young too?

“They are visiting patients”

What does this mean? Does it mean a 3rd party is visiting patients or does it means that the patients that are here now are visiting?

As the sign above shows we make these mistakes all the time, some more obvious than others… so I wonder, how many have you made and not noticed?

I know that you’re thinking now, ‘so what!’… well, the problem is that all these micro errors add up when you are communicating with a patient, they put up an invisible barrier to communication which means you are not able to get the job done as well as you like. This affects your initial consultation with a patient where they may be deciding whether to go ahead with treatment or not (sometimes called ‘selling’) right through to how motivated a patient is to follow your instructions, perhaps with their oral hygiene… so you see, communicating the message you intend is crucial throughout the whole process.

There are also phrases called ‘Universal Quantifiers’ these are things like “Everybody knows how to clean their teeth” saying things like this to a patient can be quite offensive as they may feel put down by it as they might think “well I don’t!” (using this in a marketing headline can also work the other way as people feel they might be missing out on something, hence encouraging them to read it… so use it wisely)

These language violations have fascinated me for a while now, as it’s vital that marketing communications are clean and convey the message we want – it’s also vital that once the patient comes to the practice that the first communication with the practice is just as clean and not putting patients off coming in to see you and interfering with the conversion rates.

As an ‘addicted learner’ I decided to enrol on a series of courses to assist me with this and I’m now a Master  Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which deals in depth with the art of communication by using precise language.

To help you guys I’ve also put together an NLP Taster Day (9.30-5.00) on 12th September at the Hilton, Watford, Herts where we will cover (amongst a ton of other things) how to ensure that your communication with the patient is ‘clean’ and conveys the message you want.

On this day we will:

  1. Uncover the secret world of communication using the NLP Communication Model
  2. Experience the effect of setting goals and outcomes in a well formed way (we’re going WAY beyond SMART goals here, let me tell you!)
  3. Discover the hidden language patterns we all use and how to use them to understand others
  4. See the benefit of being able to control your state and access any state at will
  5. Realise the impact of your non-verbal communication and body language and discover how to use it more effectively
  6. Enjoy learning about rapport and how to ensure it happens fast. Great for business and meetings!
  7. Understand your hidden strategies for buying and decision and practice techniques to find out the buying strategy of your patients. WOW how powerful is that?
  8. Practice a new learning strategy that is great for kids learning too

I only have 8 places left at £179+vat so if you’d like to come then please reply to this email and I’ll get you booked on.

So, watch your language ( as my mother used to say) and stay sharp,


Drivers, Passengers and Hedgehogs

In dentistry there are 3 types of dental practice – drivers, passengers and hedgehogs.

Drivers lead a business and decide where they are going. They chose the destination and make it happen, navigating the route their own way. They decide on the method of transport to get to their destination and are in total control.

Drivers use online marketing because they understand it, they get it and they make it work for them.

Passengers follow other practices, they still get to the destination but only because the drivers take them there. They don’t decide on where the destination is for their business, they simply go with the drivers as they have no other choice. They have no idea where they are going and just sit back and wait for it to happen.

Passengers use online marketing because they’ve seen the drivers doing it so figure it must be a good idea, they don’t get it so it doesn’t work for them.

Hedgehogs get squashed.

Which are you?

P.S. If you’d like a Social Media and Online Marketing Survival Kit, please click here now.

Social Media Marketing Doesn’t Work

I saw a newsletter the other day that suggested Social Media Marketing doesn’t work because it can not be proved with a spreadsheet in precise numbers & every new patient precisely allocated to that referral source.

That lead me to wonder, can we all precisely measure the exact ROI of

  • A stunning dental brand & logo and the few grand it cost to design
  • That drink in the pub one night with a patient that went on to refer all his friends
  • The polite way the staff answer the phone and deal with enquiries so well
  • The many thousands that practices pay to coaches each year
  • The time and money spent to differentiate your practice from the one down the road
  • Designing the outside of the practice for excellent curb appeal
  • The Moulton Brown soap in the bathroom
  • That clinical course you just went on
  • The charity work you do
  • Being part of the local community and helping others
Perhaps we should stop all those too unless we can exactly measure them?