Category Archives: marketing response

Dental marketing blog posts categorised as Marketing response

How your marketing message should change during the Covid-19 crisis

The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as:

“ … the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

Nothing has changed. The role of marketing is exactly the same during this crisis as it was before, but what HAS changed is the customer’s requirements and the fact that the profitability will come at a later date, not now!

I am primarily thinking about marketing to existing patients here, rather than new patients, but the concepts I talk about work for both.

Let’s delve deeper.

The primary question any marketer should ask of their customers/patients is “What problem is this person trying to solve?”. During ‘normal’ times the problem could be straightening crooked teeth, replacing missing teeth, wanting to improve dental health or just needing somewhere to call a dental home.

… But these aren’t normal times!

The relationship between stress and time horizon

In times of increased stress our ability to think with a longer time horizon reduces.

This means that in a relatively stress free environment we are able to have a longer time horizon and think about events happening in 6 months time or even a few years time.

As stress increases the time horizon of our plans will reduce accordingly.

A person that is critically ill (highly stressed) is only focused on the next few minutes of survival, as they recover and the stress reduces, so their ability to think in hours, then days, then weeks etc increases.

What that means is, the more stressed your patients feel about the current virus crisis, the shorter the time horizon will be.

They will stop thinking about treatments happening 6 months from now e.g. implants and straightening teeth.

They will start thinking about immediate problems which may arise.

So the question is, what problem are your customers trying to solve now?

A New Type of Problem Being Solved

There are 4 classifications of problems that current patients are facing, in order of ascending severity/seriousness/immediacy:

  1. “I’m okay now, I have no dental problem, but what if…?”
  2. “Is it okay if…”
  3. “What do I do about…”
  4. “Help me now”

The way we answer those questions and the mechanisms we use e.g. social media, e-mail, websites will change accordingly.

“I’m okay now, I have no dental problem, but what if…?”

These people have no dental problem at the moment, they may be plan membership patients with a healthy dentition that visit you for their dental health check and hygiene appointments, rarely requiring any form of additional treatment.

These patients want to feel you are still there for them in the event of a problem.

“Is it okay if…?”

The people in this category may have an issue they are concerned about, they might want to know “Is it OK if I leave this filling which needs doing for 3 months?”.

These patients may want to contact you to be reassured.

“What do I do about”

Moving along the immediacy scale is patients are likely to have some form of dental problem which needs to be solved, remember, their timeline may well be short so it’s unlikely to be about straightening crooked teeth. It’s far more likely they will want to know about some mild pain they have, a tooth that seems loose or bleeding gums etc.

These patients will want to contact you for reassurance and advice.

“Help me now”

This final group of patients have (in their eyes) a dental need which has to be fixed NOW.

Bear in mind that this is classified by the perception of the patient, not you or any form of government advice.

The reality may be that the patient doesn’t have a dental emergency (clinically) but if they believe they do, then as far as they are concerned, they do.

These patients need an immediate way to contact you to either have their mind put to rest that they don’t have a dental emergency, or for your advice and guidance on how to deal with the situation at present to them.

Engaging with these patients

You therefore need to have engagement mechanisms for:

  • Patients wanting to know you are there if they need you – reassuring e-mails and social media posts that you are still working and able to help if required should be the thrust of marketing to these patients.
  • Patient looking for reassurance – frequently asked questions section is on your website could be used to help answer these general questions. A simple form on your website should also be implemented to allow patients to make a general enquiry.
  • Patients looking for reassurance and advice – as urgency increases a patient is unlikely to want to spend time looking through your website at frequently asked questions etc. They need some advice as they are concerned. If you have the ability to answer your practice phone during the crisis this could work, but I also strongly recommend looking at creating a video consultation.
  • Patients requiring an immediate contact – at the furthest end of urgency spectrum patients need away to get in contact with you and possibly have a more detailed discussion. Either advice over the phone or a video consultation should be made simple and easy for the pension to access. Remember, the time line these people will be short, asking them to go through multiple steps and to jump through hoops to be able to contact you may put them off. A simple mechanism whereby a patient can book in a phone call or video consultation with you, when it is at the front of their mind, should be available.

Social media

I strongly suggest you use social media and bear in mind the 4 different categories of patient above in your posts. Think about the individual problems that these groups will be experiencing, ensure you have solutions for them and then talk about these solutions on social media.

E-mail

Communicate with your patients letting them know you are still there, still working and still have the patient in your mind… Even though you might actually be digging the garden or helping a child with homework!

In those e-mails link to the relevant resources so that patients in each of the 4 categories can contact you in a way that is right for them.

Creating a video consultation

I strongly suggest you create a video consultation, it’s actually quite simple using Calendly (scheduling software ) and Zoom (video conferencing software). These 2 systems links seamlessly together enabling you to create a virtual video consultation with booking facility which can then be used via e-mail, on your website or on social media.

It’s also worth pointing out that this can be done for FREE using the website mentioned above.

Here is a video you may want to watch about creating a virtual video consultation.

Summary

Should you be marketing during these times?

Yes.

Have the concerns and needs of your customers changed?

Yes

Should your marketing message change?

Yes

Should you stop marketing longer term treatments such as implants, veneers and orthodontics?

Yes (remember the shortened timeline)

Should you start marketing about reassurance, the fact you are still there and contactable and that you care about your patients?

Yes, yes, yes!

How to Get Your Website Working for Each Category of Visitor

When someone visits your website do you know where they are in their decision-making process?

Not everyone that visits your website is going to be ready to click the request an appointment button or the phone call button, in fact, this is likely to be the largest cohort of website visitors… People that are NOT ready to take any immediate action and contact you.

Unless you have something explicitly on your website for them to do then you have lost this visitor and lost an opportunity.

Patients that visit your website may not all be ready to book an appointment straight away, They may:

  • Be simply looking for information on how to solve a problem e.g. replacing missing teeth or looking for information about a specific treatment to resolve that problem e.g. dental implants
  • Have done their research about their problem and treatment and are searching for the right service provider, needing a little bit of convincing to take the next step.
  • Have researched the service provider and decided that you are the one they wish to go for.

We therefore need to provide things for each of these people to do, in order that they can feel as though they have taken action whilst on your site and gone some way to solving their immediate issue, at the same time we get to collect their information!

For the respective categories this should be:

  • Free guides and downloads for patients wishing to solve a dental problem. Handed out freely in exchange for an e-mail address (GDPR compliant, of course)
  • An incentive to request an appointment, this could be a free consultation, refund of initial assessment or explicit promotion of your new patient health check. This will help to convince patients if they are wavering about requesting an appointment.
  • Request an appointment facility. This needs to drop into an automated e-mail campaign where patients are followed up if they don’t come in to see you.

All of these conversions (downloadable guides, e-mail follow-ups, free consultations etc) should be tracked in Google analytics, we can then see where traffic comes from and focus more on that traffic source and/or conversion page.

Using free information downloads & free consultations etc and incorporating these into an automated e-mail system allows us to send relevant e-mails at the correct time for each patient. Once they book an appointment these prospecting e-mails should automatically stop and they should be asked for a review. This then sets up a fully automated and robust follow-up system which works 24/7/365… Never sleeping!

With a system such as this, you now have something for everyone to do on your website, no matter where they are in their decision-making process, the prospective patient is happier as they have received the information they want and you are happy as your marketing is now working more effectively!

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… 

Patient Testimonials – What to Ask For

Patient testimonials are a brilliant way of demonstrating to potential customers that you are good at what you do. They provide something we marketers call Social Proof – and we all like proof of what we are reading, don’t we?

It’s simply not good enough to say you are the best dentist in town, or that your crowns are the best – you need to prove it, and the best way to do this is for a satisfied customer to prove it for you!

What I have laid out here is a summary of the questions I think you should ask your patients. Questions 1-3 are to do with ‘motivation’ if a potential customer can identify with the motivation for solving a dental problem they will feel more ‘in tune’ with the testimonial and it will be more powerful.

Questions 4 & 5 are to do with the ‘decision’ itself – we all use different strategies to make a decision, again this will help the reader to feel more at ease with the testimonial.

Question 6 & 8 are to provide comparisons between the emotional state before and after treatment – we make purchasing decisions based on emotion, then justify with logic – so eliciting some emotion in the testimonial will help the reader to make a decision.

Question 7 is to do with the treatment itself.

Question 9 latches on to the ‘post purchase’ feelings, people often have what we call ‘buyers remorse’ – with products one can take it back, but with services like dentistry one can not do that, so the purchase decision is much higher risk. If we can demonstrate that a previous patient had no remorse and could do more things afterwards it shows the reader that the decision to buy was a good one.

Question 10 Is a simple command telling the reader what to do – this ought to be a ‘call to action’ along the lines of “I would suggest anyone that feels like I did contact the practice straight away”

Here are the questions I suggest you ask your happy patient:

  1. What was your initial dental problem?
  2. What did this dental problem prevent you doing?
  3. What made you decide to do something about your dental problem? In other words, why do it now?
  4. How did you chose which dentist to go to? In other words, what selection criteria did you use?
  5. Why did you pick XYZ Dental Practice?
  6. How did you feel about your teeth before you went to XYZ Dental Practice?
  7. What treatment did you have done?
  8. How did you feel about your teeth after treatment?
  9. What have your new teeth allowed you to do now?
  10. What advice would you give other patients in a similar situation to you?

Using a structure like this will allow you to get better testimonials that are more useful to you and your business.

What would you add? Or indeed take away?

A Facebook Experiment – my Results

People say that you need to post on Facebook pages frequently in order to build your fan base, but is this true?

I’ve no idea, so I decided to run an experiment.

For the first 2 weeks of November I posted relatively frequently, typically 2 posts per day to my Facebook fan page. Then on 9th November I stopped altogether and didn’t post anything until 21st November – you can check these dates out by scrolling down on my page to see when the posts were made.

Now, if you have a proper business page on Facebook you can check your stats (with a personal profile you can’t do this), and here’s my result.

You can see a MASSIVE drop in total fans reached, right up to the point where I started posting again and fans started to be reached again. It’s kind of obvious really, if you don’t post anything people won’t see it, but these are all missed opportunities to build your brand and create exposure for your business.

This also seems to show that people don’t go visiting your Facebook pages after they have ‘liked’ them (or fans reached would remain constant) – so it’s not like a website where people might go back time and time again – the only way on Facebook that you keep fans interacting and seeing your page is by posting content – period.

So, based on these findings I’ve introduced a new Auto Managed service for dental practices on Facebook and Twitter to help you guys out with content – it’s an automated service that will keep your content fresh and relevant. Please do visit the page now and take a look through what is possible.

You’ve seen the results of what happens when you don’t post, so it’s vital that you do – so take action now!

Generate Attention, Interest, Desire and Action and see an improvement in marketing response

This is a simple way to get you marketing working better for you and one of the simplest acronyms to remember, yet one that can have the biggest impact on your marketing, AIDA:

Attention

Interest

Desire

Action

With every marketing communication you should seek to grab attention, so that’s the headline, the email subject line, the Facebook status update or the tweet on Twitter.

Once you’ve grabbed attention you then need to capture the readers interest, that’s the rest of your Facebook fan page content, the content of your email, the first few lines of text in your flyer or the link that you send your Twitter followers to.

Once you have ensured they are interested you need to create desire, that’s the emotion linked to your services, the burning desire your prospect has to solve their problem to which you have the solution.

And lastly, and often the one that is missed, be very clear about the action you want them to take. That’s a response to your email, a re-tweet on Twitter, a comment on your Facebook page or a phone call at the practice.

It’s simple to remember, AIDA

For more tips just like this one please join in with the conversation on our Facebook page... see y’all there.

Stay Sharp,

Mark