Category Archives: marketing

Dental marketing blog posts categorised as Marketing

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?

Should You Run Dental Special Offers?

Crickey there’s a hornets nest that might be left alone – but hey no, lets delve in and see what we find huh?

Is running a dental practice all about the marketing and business, or is it all about the patient? It seems that there are a few people out there that believe that this is a dicotomy and that it’s impossible that one can do both. My belief is that most dentists (certainly all that I have come in to contact with) care 100% about the patient – however more and more dentists are now realising the importance of marketing.

Back in the Good Old Days not many dentists thought about the business and were 100% focused on the importance of the patient, my impression is that what has happened now is that that 100% focus has not changed, but along side it has emerged an awareness of the importance of The Business.
The 2 running together in tandem, hand in hand. A joint venture.
If a dentist does exceptionally great dentistry, with the latest equipment and with the skill care and attention that many others aspire too – but has no patients to help – I believe THAT IS WRONG.
A practice WILL NOT grow and prosper without marketing (just to be clear Word of Mouth is marketing too!) and to waste the skill of  a great dentist just because they don’t focus on the importance of marketing too is a crime!
So, we are clear then. Marketing a practice does not mean there is less of a focus on the importance of great dentistry, it means the practice is working harder to reach the patients that need to be treated by the excellent clinician – better marketing means more patients receive better care!
Right, back to the question Should You Run Dental Special Offers?  – as much as I genuinely hate to admit it, yes I think you should. 
In my experience new patients like offers, and here’s why.
Going to the dentist is not like buying a computer, if I buy a computer my risk is low as I can evaluate the product before and take it back if I’m not happy – even if you buy a £100,000 car, the risk is still low as you can always take it back if it fails to perform as described.
Now think about your dentistry – the patient can not evaluate it before hand and they can’t take it back after if is not right!
So RISK is HIGH for the patients – even if only spending a few hundred with you their risk is potentially higher than spending £100k on a new car!
Your marketing therefore needs to focus on reducing risk:
  1. Testimonials
  2. Videos
  3. Photos of the team
  4. Virtual Practice Tours
  5. Before and After
All these reduce risk… and so do special offers. They are simply a reduction of risk to the patient, so they work – BUT…
…in my marketing with dentists I NEVER (if at all possible) give anything away for free, always look for something back from the patient if you do an offer. Make the exchange more equitable, rather than give things away.
Something like the following:
  • Half Price Whitening (Your part of the exchange) If they bring a friend at the same time (The patients part in the deal which makes it more equitable for you)
  • FREE Initial Assessment  (Your part of the exchange) If they download a voucher so you can send them further gentle marketing emails  (The patients part in the deal which makes it more equitable for you)
  • Refund of Initial Assessment Fee (Your part of the exchange) If they download a voucher so you can send them further gentle marketing emails  (The patients part in the deal which makes it more equitable for you)
  • £X off Invisalign  (Your part of the exchange) If they download a voucher so you can send them further gentle marketing emails  (The patients part in the deal which makes it more equitable for you)

Start to see a pattern emerging?
By all means do a special offer (remember if the special offer is permanent then it is a price reduction NOT an offer, which is a whole different argument – DON’T confuse the 2!) but when you do make the offer and exchange more equitable.
So, marketing is vital in your practice, and so is making it equitable and fair for both parties and remember…
“Running a dental practice without marketing is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does”

Is your website found on Google? The art of SEO

A large part of the work that I do is getting dentist’s websites found, after all, you can have all the email/Facebook/YouTube/Twitter integration you like, but if no-one visits your website then it’s all going to amount to not very much huh?

Your website should be the hub of your online marketing – this is the place that we bring it all back together and the central portal for reaching the local people – if it’s not found it’s like winking at a girl in the dark, you know what you’re doing but no-one else does!

So how do we get the lights turned on?

How do we get a light shining on your website and optimised so that people find it?

One small word. Google.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process by which we get your website found in the search results – mainly on Google!

I’ve written before about ‘onsite’ SEO, so this post is about ‘offsite’ SEO, or link building.

Google sees Link building as a referral, you know how powerful a patient referral to another patient is right? Well if another website links to yours then Google sees it as a virtual referral… lot’s of links = lot’s of referrals = you must be important = higher search engine results – quite simple really.

There’s one more thing that we need to consider and that’s link juice… WHAT I hear you cry… Link juice!

Link juice is a virtual soup of ‘website power’ that sloshes around the internet, think of it like this, if you place  a link OUT of your website, say to an implant company for example, your website ‘leaks’ link juice to that site. If you have a link TO your website a little bit of link juice flows your way. Get more link juice and your website rises in the search results. Simple really.

So, you need someone that understands optimisation to manage your online marketing to ensure as much link juice flows your way. Here’s a VERY simplified diagram of a technique.

Think of your website as the centre of a target, we want as much link juice to flow in to the  bulls eye where your website sits. A technique is to link some Outer Tier (or Tier 2) websites to some Inner Tier (Tier 1) websites. This could be done by uploading articles, blogs, documents etc to the sites. The outer tier squeezes some link juice to the inner tier. And when the juice has built in the Tier 1 sites it’s possible to link them through to your website with more articles, blogs and documents.
This has the effect of ‘concentrating’ the juice at the outer level, so by the time it hits your website it is really valuable link juice – this is a time consuming process but fairly simple to do, although one needs to be careful as there are a few pitfalls to be aware of.
Getting your website to number 1 on Google is not a case of hoping or wishing, it needs a structured approach that uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, Articles, Directories plus others.
If you think your website is not performing as well as you’d like give me a call and I’ll give you an honest appraisal of what I can do for you 0845 259 1232
Stay sharp,

Facebook Lists and Privacy Settings

Facebook’s new privacy settings have been all over the news recently, and I have to say I quite like the new way of posting status updates.

Historically if one had a load of ‘friends’ on Facebook, but only 100 were ‘actual’ friends (in the old style meaning of the word) and the rest were just aquaintances or business contacts it was difficult to really separate the streams of content that each group saw.

Facebook’s privacy has allowed you to block lists and individuals from seeing photos and updates for a while, but it was always generic – in other words if you block a list from your status updates then ALL your updates are blocked – not great really.

The new privacy settings now allow you to chose who sees what on an update by update basis – and this is direct response to Google +1 Circles I would imagine.

In this video I show you how you can manage this privacy setting, plus give a top tip for managing your list for business… enjoy…

And if you want more about Facebook for Dentists, do check out my website

If the video above doesn’t display, click here to watch on YouTube

How To Make Your Dental Marketing Sizzle…

In my work as an Online Dental Marketing Consultant, I have the privilege of looking at, and comparing lots of dental web sites.

One problem I find a lot of dental web sites have is that they are written by dentists.

Dentists are lovely people, and they are also often very technical people who love to explain things in a very technical fashion.

So, I was looking at a web site today which was talking about dentures, it explained in every detail what a denture is – that it’s made of methyl methacrylate acrylic with stock Myseron teeth placed onto the acrylic resin plastic base. It’s all very interesting but isn’t really marketing, all that’s doing is explaining.

 Now we may have heard the phrase “sell the sizzle not the steak” and this type of marketing is exactly falling into the trap and selling the steak and not selling the sizzle.

I want to elaborate more with an example from TV advertising and marketing.

So think now about some advertising on television for a perfume. Think about a perfume advert. Picture it in your mind, picture what that perfume advert looks like, picture the images you can see when you are watching that perfume advert. Hear the music playing, see the actors in the scene they are playing… so you’ve got that picture now? Nice and bright and colourful in your minds eye…

They’re selling the sizzle and not the steak.   That picture you have in your minds eye is the sizzle.   Never will you see a perfume advert talking about the content of the perfume, they don’t even try to explain what the perfume smells like because you cannot explain a smell without experiencing it yourself.

So in order to undertake marketing for a smell the companies need to establish a link between their product and an emotion. They establish a link between a product and an emotion, which becomes the sizzle and then they sell the sizzle and not the steak

If you look at all the marketing for perfumes they will always be talking about selling mysteriousness, selling the attraction a new boyfriend, a new girlfriend, being attractive, being seductive or simply being gorgeous with the implied idea that you could look like the actor in the advert. They will always sell an emotion and never the perfume itself.

So, when you think again now at your dental marketing, do exactly the same thing –  establish an emotional connection between the product and services you are selling to create the sizzle, then sell the sizzle and not the steak.

What motivates the patients to come to see you?

What emotions does dentistry and your services satisfy?

What experience do you offer your patients and how does it make them feel?

What desires of the patient do you satisfy (steady on now!)?

This is all creates the sizzle… now go sell it…

Mark’s Marketing Minute – The 5 Es of online marketing

I’d like to introduce you to a series of Mark’s Marketing Minute videos I will be producing, the next 5 videos (that can easily be watched in a coffee break as they only last a minute) I will explore my 5 Es of Online Marketing:

  • Emotion
  • Experience
  • Evidence
  • Engage
  • Encourage

Here’s the first video in this mini series that explains what I mean. Once completed I’ll post the whole series on my website, or you can view them on my YouTube channel.

These aren’t new concepts by any means (Chris Barrow talks extensively about creating an Experience)… but they are so, so , SO often missing from many websites and online marketing communications.

So here’s some homework to do for my next Mark’s Marketing Minute videocast. Think now about a specific product or service you offer… now ask yourself, how does it make your customer FEEL once you have provided this product or service to them? What emotion does it evoke?

See you next time, and stay sharp,


Make your dental marketing stand out

This blog is a rant.

Do you want your marketing to work better than it ever has before?

Do you want your dental business to stand out from the crowd so your customers SHOUT from the roof tops ‘I HAVE TO GO TO THIS DENTIST’?

Yes? Then you’ll like this rant.

Rant begins:

1. Stop being ordinary. Ordinary is the easy & lazy option.

2. Look at your competition and DO THE OPPOSITE, this means:

  • look at their websites, now do something different with yours
  • look at their ads in the press, now do something different with yours
  • Call them up after hours and listen to their answer phone message, now do something different with yours
  • Subscribe to their blog, read it, now do something different with yours (you do have blog DON’T YOU!)
  • Look at the outside of their practice, now do something different with yours

3. Work through every ‘contact’ you have with a new prospect and track the journey to becoming a patient. Now for every ‘contact’ they have with you smack ’em between the eyes with something different. No, I mean SMACK ‘EM BETWEEN THE EYES so you stand out. So they just shout WOAH, I wasn’t expecting that.

4. If you think to yourself ‘I am a dentist and dentists do things like this’ you are making yourself blend in. If you blend in game over.

5. Sack your web designer (Thanks Tony Gedge for that one!) All they want to do is make a pretty website. Pretty doesn’t sell. Pretty blends in. Pretty doesn’t SMACK ‘EM BETWEEN THE EYES.

6. Sack your marketing company. Often all they want to do is make pretty adverts and stationary. Pretty doesn’t sell. Pretty blends in. Pretty doesn’t SMACK ‘EM BETWEEN THE EYES.

7. Buy Seth Godin’s book ‘The Purple Cow’ and read it cover to cover. Have a pen and notepad at the ready.

8. Look at all your marketing and ask ‘what does it do?’ Most marketing from dental practices fails to have a definite, firm and unequivocable CALL TO ACTION. This means on your marketing:

  • Give people a reason to visit your website ‘Download your FREE guide to XYZ in 10 easy steps NOW from our website’
  • Tell prospective patients what to do at every step, and then guide them simply and easily through every step to becoming patient, telling them what to do each time. e.g. click on this link, call the surgery now, send an email now, come to our oipen evening. Don’t leave it to chance and hope they do it. TELL THEM EXACTLY WHAT TO DO

Rant ends.

To the practice that inspired this, you know who you are – and I still love you 🙂

Stay Sharp guys,


For a different and Smack ’em Between The Eyes approach to dental practice marketing just give me a call 07769 898798 or email me for a review of your current eMarketing strategy.