If you are looking for “an edge” in your dental marketing that will make you stand out from your competition, professional pictures and videos are it. Seeing an image of the dentist upon arrival to the website creates an immediate connection to the practice for the patient. The images on your website are the first items of information that a visitor to your website will process. Around 90% of the information processed in the brain is visual and the brain actually processes images 60,000 times faster than text! This definitely lends some truth to the well known adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
And of course you won’t want to stop with just images. You can further build on that connection with quality professional video. It can be nerve racking to search for a new dentist for any patient, and so the ability to feel like you’ve gotten to know the dentist a little before walking through the door is simply priceless. Check out a professionally branded dental marketing video created for two of our dentists, Dr. Israel Salin and Dr. Dimitri Salin.
Once you have created your professional images and video, you want to make sure to splash them everywhere, your website alone is not enough. You’ll want potential patients to see you everywhere they go… images on yelp, yahoo, all your local listings, facebook, youtube, etc. You’ll also want to play commercial snippets and use your images on banners for re-marketing ads that target users who have visited your site in the past. You’ll want to add these images to direct mail postcards and emails that you send out. When a patient sees you everywhere they look, they will begin to believe you are absolutely the most obvious and best choice in town.
It probably goes without saying that the most important aspect of running an effective practice is building on patient relations. It makes sense in any business to strive to provide a service that promotes an organic sense of loyalty. This approach will always result in a more concrete outcome than mere frequency. In the long run your business will prosper greater while continuously learning more from the patient about the service you are providing than to simply invest in repeat service.
Now, imagine from a patient’s perspective the results of having this kind of experience. Wouldn’t you feel compelled to share these results with family, friends, and even casual acquaintances when conversation provided a relevant opportunity? Of course! We all love to discuss quality customer service interactions that far surpass the average day-to-day encounters. This is because it feels good to be treated as a valuable individual rather than just another face standing between you and the end of a busy day on the clock. In fact, the only thing that could make that appreciation feel even better would be if you were rewarded for your satisfaction!
…And this is exactly what the “kudos!” loyalty program represents. An incentive-based opportunity for patients to redeem points that are directly acquired through expressing the sincere satisfaction they already feel.
Patients that enroll in this loyalty program are already genuinely excited to praise the sincere service they were provided by the office, staff, and doctors. The kudos! loyalty program encourages these individuals to get out there and spread the good word to friends and family on a wide array of social media platforms. This form of business representation is without a doubt an imperative deciding factor for new and prospecting clientele in our modern times.
Just think of the number of people that are out there right now meticulously scanning review sites for the perfect restaurant, barber, or yes… even dentist. This form of research has become so popular for the basic reason that we want to hear real experiences, not advertisements. Promoting a business is much more easy and effective when done internally. Acquiring new patients can be an expensive process compared to nurturing those we already have. Simply put, retaining current patients and keeping them fully satisfied is a much more efficient way to promote any practice. This method becomes a self-sustaining machine that provides research on specific incentives and dislikes that will fuel patient’s decisions.
Another glimmering attribute of a loyalty program such as kudos! is the client’s incentive to share these experiences on personal social media pages. The result is increased local exposure towards any number of vast individuals that may witness it through some form of association. Social media allows a multi-channel vehicle through which to communicate a voice to others. This builds real customer relationships based on relevance and allows loyal patients to directly impact a company’s profitability through actively referring others to your business, saving you the marketing and advertising costs of acquiring them as customers in the first place.
It is infinitely more profitable to lose bad patients than to invest the time and energy that it costs to acquire new ones. The kudos! program rewards our best patients in the same way that it gives the extreme alternative less of a reason to stay, providing the room for a plethora of quality new patient arrivals and interest. Excelling in customer service and problem correction through an insight of authentic reviews builds trust, a key element for all long lasting relationships. Also, the more activities that a truly satisfied client participates in, the more promotional material you have available online, resulting in more satisfaction among the clients that you already have and will inevitably gain in the process.
Every business must develop and deliver a consistently branded experience for its customers, and the essence of this brand should be evident in every interaction a customer has with the company. This enables the client to form an emotional attachment with the brand. Actively engaging patient’s and public relations will finalize in making them WANT to promote your business and the highly responsive services it has provided.
The best loyalty programs in the world are ones that are truly customer-centric in every way. Taking a look at your average experience with your average business will reveal that the most common method of approach is to be either product-centric or service-centric. Meanwhile, those who have fully realized the immense value of a customer-centric approach have thrived well beyond competitors. Adopting this ideal approach usually means changing several generic procedures, however. All marketing and sales services must be merged without a stitch. Examined data is going to be much more useful when segmented by customers instead of products.
The kudos! program provides data that is already customer-centric by its very nature, and implementing this loyalty program as the cardinal opportunity that it is provides a merging of data that crosses all platforms and data pools. Differentiating your business from others in a way that focuses less on the claims of your own products and services, and instead more on the real-world results that are being proudly exclaimed by the patients that are sustaining it.
Lets face it… we are all human, and have a lot on our plates. I am sure every single one of us has forgotten an appointment, or double booked our schedule. So as a practice, how do you take in to account human error?
Here are a few ways to remind patients of their appointments, and encourage re-booking when something else comes up.
1. Call your patients and remind them.
–Everyone needs a reminder now and then, and we find that it works best when it comes a few days in advance. When you call your patients the day or heaven forbid the night before, often times this is too late to move around schedules when double booking has happened, and typically the dental appointment loses in the priority game.
2. Don’t expect your patients to call you back.
–As previously mentioned… people are busy. If you rely on your patients to give you a call when they have a free moment, it might not happen for several months. Have a list of patients to call back and schedule, or reschedule.
At Dental Game Plan, every appointment booked is followed up with by our call center operators when the patient cancels, or is simply a no show. We find that speaking to the patient, that we pursue, allows us to reschedule, find out why the appointment was not kept, and helps us to better ourselves when it was not kept for a specific reason on the office’s part (i.e. not getting an appointment soon enough in an emergency case).
3. Do not be afraid to be tough.
–When extending a promotional deal (low prices) to a new client, do not be afraid to ask them to pay in advance, especially when a large block of time will be held for their appointment. This will ensure that you have a patient booked who will most likely show up. It also is reassuring to the patient that no hidden fees are associated with the visit. We find this works best in non-emergency cases, such as routine cleanings. However when a patient is coming in for an unknown visit, like a tooth ache, it makes it nearly impossible to ask them to pay anything upfront.
–When you have a existing patient no-show, or cancel, remind them of your cancellation policy. Of course use discretion, but when you have a repeat offender, applying a no show fee or late cancellation fee is acceptable. Many offices use a three strike system, and the patients who come to the office are informed on the policy, and warned when they have used up a “strike”.
4. Tracking your results.
–Companies like Dental Game Plan track your monthly results. Each appointment made is followed up with through the office to be sure that the patient made it to their appointment. If they did not, the call center follows up with the patient to see if rescheduling can happen.
Knowing that people are busy, and your office is also busy, makes having a third party company who tracks your appointments and no- shows very beneficial to everyone involved.
Once you have your patients ready to leave reviews, please remember this advice. Do not encourage them to post from any device in your office that may be using the same IP address. I know it seems like a simple way to get your reviews done. You are already talking to the patient about leaving a review. Why not go ahead and let them leave the review from your office? Here’s why…
These review sites are smart, and they want to make sure the reviews are fair and honest. The have different systems in place to catch what they believe are fake reviews. Several reviews coming from the same IP address will appear to be reviews coming from the same person, and these reviews can get removed. Even if every review is from a different person, just being from the same IP address will raise a flag against those reviews.
If your office doesn’t offer wireless internet to your patients, then you’re mostly in the clear. Just don’t let them post their review from one of your computers or devices linked into your internet. If you do offer wireless internet in your office, even posting from their own tablet or phone while using your internet could get that patient’s review filtered. Try your best to get them to leave their review later from their own home.
This system really is in place to protect your office. Not only are the sites making sure that someone is not falsely leaving positive reviews for your business, they are also watching for people posting fraudulent negative reviews. I’m sure your patients are always happy with your office, but imagine some occurrence where someone is not pleased. They could go home and create multiple accounts and leave multiple negative reviews for you that place your office in a bad light.
Don’t be afraid to ask your patients about leaving reviews, just remember that they need to leave their review somewhere other than your office. You want all the reviews you can get, but you want to make sure these reviews count.
As a dental practitioner your number one goal is to take care of every patient that comes through your doors by giving them healthy, beautiful smiles however, sometimes there just aren’t enough people coming through the doors. To get more new people into your dental chairs you must have solid marketing strategies. I’m going to assume you aren’t investing in mass-market, big-budget, TV and radio promotion — good glad you’re not wasting your money. Here’s the question I ask doctors when we meet for the first time; What’s your current strategy and is it based on strong marketing fundamentals?
First, let me say this I don’t believe competition actually exists. I believe you can completely dominate and control your market place. Dentists that buy in to the approach I’m advocating in this article are going to get the biggest piece of the pie by doing things bigger and better than everyone else. Not just by a little bit, by a lot!
The main thing you need to know is that you can’t just rely on the basics. Sure, working with your existing patients to generate referrals will always be a part of your marketing strategy but it’s just one small piece, and to be honest I haven’t met a dentist yet that can’t improve this part of their business, so the good news is that everything your doing can and will get better! If you want great success you have to appear to be the best right from the get-go. You must have an omnipresence, you must be everywhere and the quality of your brand must stand far apart from everybody else. The marketing areas you must focus on are:
1. Direct/Outdoor (Postcards, Mailers, Door Hangers, Billboards)
2. Search Engine Marketing
3. Social Media Marketing
4. Internal Patient Referrals
5. Reputation Management
6. Patient Re-Activation
If you ignore any of these areas, you are losing ground exponentially… conversely by doing something in each of these areas you are compounding your gains. If I were to give you the choice of taking 3 million dollars right now or a penny that doubles every day for 30 days what would you choose? The 3 million bucks right? Guess what… I’m taking the penny and here’s why; by day 10 I’ll only have $5.12, but I know that the power of compounding results will get me all the way to $5,242.88 by day 20 and when it’s all said and done I will have 5,368,709.12 over 2 million dollars more than the person who takes the 3M right of the bat. I’m here to tell you that putting together all of your marketing techniques you can stand to see the same kinds of compounding results for your dental office. Why? Because by being everywhere you create the perception that you are the best!
You’re probably thinking that to do all of these things will be expensive, and how can you be sure that you will see a return? I’m not going to tell you that marketing is a sure thing, it IS a gamble and so many dentists have failed by trying just one or two of these strategies, before giving up — because of the wrong approach… and that would definitely make anyone a little “gun-shy”. That’s why if you follow our plan to the letter, we guarantee new patient results! We know that if you do all of the right things, the right way, you will see huge increases in your new business which means more profit.
You need to have a strategy for each one of the six (6) marketing avenues outlined above and it should be comprehensive and work seamlessly with the other five. So, if you’re too busy to sit down and plan all of that out, you can simply hire us to do it for you. If you are looking for an assessment on how you are currently doing in many of these areas, we are providing a comprehensive report card on where you are and where you need to go. If you are interested in seeing this report give us a call today at (323) 285-0016. We look forward to speaking to you soon!
Over the years, we have found that dental internet marketing hinges on new patient specials. Yet with every new client that comes to our program, I spend countless hours working to get them on board with the notion that new patient specials are not just needed but critical to growing their business long-term. So I would like to take a minute to discuss some of the objections I listen to over and over again and how I’m likely to respond should you and I ever have this conversation in person.
Client: I really don’t want the kind of new patients that are shopping for a deal
Jessie: You must play to your audience! The vast majority of surfers online are shopping for a deal. This is the current trend in our internet based society. We have gone back to coupon clipping and deal hunting. Why pay more if you do not have to? The dental office down the street that you are competing with has new patient specials and accessible offers out on the web and in print. If a potential patient is looking at several offices online and all have great reviews and a good internet presence, why would they choose the office not offering a deal? After all, most people have a try-before-buy mentality as there is no guarantee that they will like the location, staff, or the dentist, so why not choose the business offering service at the least initial out of pocket expense?
Client: My hygienist makes 40+/hour, her time is expensive so I don’t want to offer a cleaning, exam & x-ray deal
Jessie: If you give no other offers for new patients, this is the one to give! I cannot stress this enough. Patients looking for a cleaning, exam and x-ray are dream patients that will be gold for you in the long run. The patients who are concerned about their dental health and are making it a continual priority are the patients who will opt to get a root canal and a crown immediately when the problem arises instead of letting the problem deteriorate until they are in pain and have no other choice but to come in and have the tooth extracted. Patients who are actively seeking a cleaning when they have no other underlying issues forcing them to seek out a dentist are the patients you want. Also, cleanings and exams are where you find that a patient may have issues they don’t know about and you’re able to schedule them for a return visit. Not only should you offer new patients a cleaning, exam and x-ray special, you should roll out the red carpet for them and congratulate them on being mindful of their dental health.
Client: You want me to offer too many specials, can’t we just have one new patient special?
Jessie: Again, you must play to your audience! A patient who just broke their denture does not care about a cleaning, exam and x-ray offer. The patient searching for Invisalign or Veneers is not interested in your Implant offer. We make it a point to have one “closing” offer and one follow up “treatment acceptance” offer for each and every major service your office is marketing. If you are running ads and ranking organically for lets say root canals, you absolutely must have a root canal offer and if you are running ads and ranking for the keyword implants you absolutely must have implant offers and so on.
Client: They just come in and take advantage of the deal and never come back…
Jessie: This answer may sound a little harsh and I will admit to saying this more diplomatically for our clients but the truth of the matter is that… “This is on you!” Our job is to get the potential patient through the door and the your job to make the experience one worth coming back for. In other words, you need to WOW them with your very best customer service and do whatever it takes to make them comfortable in your office. Then, as much as you may hate it, you must offer them a SECOND INCENTIVE to entice them back. Once you have them in the door with a low or no cost incentive for a consultation, you need to follow that up with an additional offer geared towards treatment acceptance. If they come in for an emergency consultation and you determine that they need an extraction, follow that up with an offer for a percentage off an implant. And make sure to provide the patient with payment plan options. Then and only then will you have cemented yourself as their long-term provider.
If you take nothing else from this read, please take this; The value of a new patient is not merely found in how much they spend during one visit. The value of a new patient that is inspired to become a returning loyal patient, who is committed to their oral health, is found over the potential years they are with you, the friends and family that they refer to your business, and the potential compounding effect of those referrals that lead to other referrals and so on.
Please keep in mind that with our front-loaded, incentive based approach immediate results are not always easy to see, but stick with it. I find that even after hours of discussion, some clients reluctantly agree to offer the incentives we require solely based upon the fact that they are foisted upon them as a condition of our guaranteed results. Over the course of the next several months, while these client adjust to the new way of doing business, we inevitably hear complaints, rebuttals, case studies and other myriad reasons our incentive based approach just isn’t working. These dentists are looking for ways to be right and so they tighten their grip and shine a spotlight on each and every new patient that comes to them and fits any earlier objection and parade those stories into my inbox, with an unspoken “I told you so!” And without fail, about 3-4 months down the line when patients are flooding in and the numbers game is playing out, I magically stop hearing those objections. By this time in the process we are getting so many awesome patients with the incentives that the occasional ‘dud’ doesn’t even factor in. And in truth, I often have clients who come back to me months down the road with their own great ideas for new and exciting incentives!
Often times when a patient calls in to your office directly, they are greeted with a busy receptionist with a lot on their plate. Most likely scenario is they are probably sitting in front of a patient that is waiting to be checked in or out, and they have 5 other telephone lines ringing to be picked up.
Of course we know your office cares deeply about each and every patient that comes in to see you. Moreover, you we know you care about the overall customer experience and how that translates to long-term success for your practice in the form of loyal clientele and glowing reviews online. The question is; are your office staff currently doing what is necessary for you to realize these goals for every, single person that picks up the phone and dials your number?
In our abundant experience we’ve learned that the main reason(s) a new patient calls is to book a routine appointment, an emergency appointment, or get a quote on a service. At Dental Game Plan, our operators are never too busy to answer even the most long-winded questions a potential patient can come up with. We’re thorough, kind, understanding and above all good listeners — when it’s all said and done our goal is to get them to come in to your office for a new patient consultation or exam.
We like to think of any patient that actually calls in for an cleaning, exam or other routine appointment, as “gold-star” patient. If handled correctly, these patients will be return patients, or patients that show up on your online review sites — and know the value and importance of regular oral maintenance. We typically pass these patients directly to the office to book an appointment, and know a bit of a wait for the appointment will usually not be a big deal.
When an emergency patient calls in for an appointment, we always like to get them in as soon as possible. Sometimes a “tomorrow appointment” will automatically result in a hang-up. Having space in your schedule, every single day, for these inevitable calls is of utmost importance. Though, they are not always return patients, they will know you will be there for them if they need you again.
We know that prices given over the phone are valuable to the patient, but they can often be inaccurate, and exaggerated. Having the patient come in for a free exam is a huge benefit to the patient, and your office.
When you receive a quote for a service, what is the first thing you do? Whether it be auto, home repair, or a medical expense, you typically call around for a second quote. If your office is giving quotes, without seeing the patient, and your quote turns out to be too high, or too low, you will have an unhappy patient, guaranteed.
At Dental Game Plan, we believe the most important thing to do with a potential new patient is relay a general, honest sense of care for their comfort and well-being. We have staffed our call-center with people whose main goal is to be there for your potential patients-in-need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our compassionate operators always ensure that callers know we believe their time to be valuable, that we care about their financial situation and are sensitive to any extenuating fears or anxiety.
Booking a new patient appointment, for you (our client) is our number one goal; however, we always go that little bit extra, to show callers that our focus is 100% on them — we want to make that first impression the foundation for a quality long-term relationship.
As hard as it may be to believe, just because someone reads your patient’s reviews, that does not always mean that they will feel inclined to leave a review of their own. Usually the idea simply does not occur to them. This study published on Statista shows that people are four times more likely to read a review about their doctor than actually leave a review about their doctor. This is where you and your staff come in.
A wealth of positive patient reviews, not only helps casual surfers turn the corner and become patients, but it also aids in your dental search engine marketing. Online patient reviews are an important component in how your website, review listing or local listing ranks in comparison to your competitors. Or course, this is only one component of dental search engine marketing, but it does carry some significant weight.
You should always let your patients know how much you would appreciate a review. Use incentives to thank them for being a loyal client and for sharing the experience they’ve had at your practice with the rest of the world. Post signs and literature that prompt your happy patients to ask you or your staff for more information about leaving reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Make sure to ask your marketing company for the most effective signage, they likely already have something created. Or give us a call at Dental Game Plan and we would be glad to steer you in the right direction.
The main thing you can do to get the word out about leaving reviews is to make sure you or your staff mention it to every patient that comes through your door. For Dental Game Plan clients – all you need to do is get their email address and we’ll do the rest. You may be surprised how many of your patients are more than happy to leave a positive patient review for the great service they received at your office if asked to do so.
How many times have you called an office, a restaurant, or a doctor and had the phone ring and ring until it clicks over to a prerecorded message. “Sorry we are not in right now…” Of course you don’t know what the next part of the message is, because you already hung up.
A recent study found that 75% of all calls sent to voice mail, hang up. EVoice also did a study, and they found that of all messages left, 33% of them are not ever even checked. This undoubtedly is harmful to any business.
So what is the solution?
Many companies have turned to an answering service who will answer your phone calls when your office is not open, and will relay the messages to the office when they are open again. This of course is not the most desired option, because there is still a disconnect between the office and the answering service when operators are unable to fully assist the caller.
At Dental Game Plan our operators are specifically trained and knowledgeable in the field of dentistry, we are HIPAA compliant and are able to speak to your new patient callers 24/7, while representing your office to the highest standard. Our operators are able to relay pertinent office information, answer patient questions and even book appointments for you where there are openings in your schedule.
Above all, keep in mind it is vital that you have a living, breathing human available to make a connection with each and every caller, so no onegets left behind in “voice-mail purgatory”. Building a relationship over the phone, is the first step in securing a new patient connection, and integral to having long-term rapport.