My Prediction for 2013

Standard

Image

Good news!  U. S. News and World Report has announced their list of the top jobs (those in greatest demand) for 2013 and topping the list at number one is dentist!  Following in the number ten position is dental hygienist! At the risk of angering some of you, I’m going to say it. No more whining! You can position your practice and seize the market. But you must decide to take a good hard look at your practice and make some improvements.  Look at these FIVE ELEMENTS and ask whether you are making the most of each opportunity:

1) Your Physical plant

Patients have very little in which to judge your expertise or competence and some will assess you by the appearance of your practice. From the exterior and signage to the decor, wall art and clutter, look at your practice with new eyes or ask a third party or professional to give you their honest opinion. And while you must like and be comfortable in your surroundings, the more important issue is who you are targeting and what will appeal to them.

2) How are patients welcomed?

The best investment you can make is to train the team members entrusted with answering the phone and welcoming new AND existing patients. NO AMOUNT OF ADVERTISING OR EXTERNAL MARKETING WILL BENEFIT YOU until your team members learn how to connect with people in the most effective way. The challenge is that you rarely know how your team members are engaging people because you are focused on doing dentistry. Enlist the help of a professional to both assess and train your team appropriately.

3) Work on building relationships

This may sound like a no-brainer but there is more to building a relationship than learning where your patients work, their children’s names or where they went on their last vacation. Everyone who works in the practice must be capable and willing to learn communication skills that will carry your relationships beyond the superficial. This requires learning why patients come to you, what they are asking and expecting of you, and how you can connect with them in ways that help them get what they want. The end result is more patients authorizing more dentistry sooner!

4) Fostering referrals

It stands to reason that if you manage expectations and give patients what they want, they will be happy and continue to come to your practice. Far too often, we don’t ask our best, most satisfied patients for referrals. Do you and your team know the art of asking for referrals in a genuine way? Do you have a referral program that encourages people to voluntarily share their experience in direct and viral ways? Enlist the help of a professional to AMP UP this highly overlooked goldmine.

5) Marketing

For you old-school guys and gals, WAKE UP!  It’s 2013 and if you aren’t getting your business out into the community, you will be left behind. For those of you who have marketing plans in place, now is the time to re-assess their effectiveness.  Keep these three essential elements in mind as you craft your campaigns:

Reach – who you are targeting

Frequency  –  how often you are sending messages out

Top of the Mind Awareness/Familiarity  –  being in the consumer’s mind when they are in the market or have a need

I encourage you to consider more non-traditional means of promoting your practice with a heavy emphasis on education and good-will marketing. Think creatively and out of the box. Don’t rely on a team member to try to implement your marketing when they “have time”. Instead, hire someone who can focus on it.

I predict that if you tackle all five of these goals this year, your practice will SOAR. I would love to help you with each of these areas to make 2013 your greatest year ever and be poised for success for years to come.

Advertisements

Using video to market your practice

Standard

Lately, I have been asked about new and innovative ways to more successfully promote and market a dental practice. Aside from the traditional channels of advertising and the somewhat still-controversial idea of television commercials, I encourage you to consider the many other ways in which video can be a useful tool. Consider these convincing statistics:

Did you know that YouTube is the #2 search engine? And video results from YouTube will show up in Google search results, boosting your SEO rankings.

A Pew research study showed that Emails containing video received, on average, a 5.6 percent higher open rate, and a 96.38 percent higher click-through rate than non-video emails.

According to the BIA Kelsey Group, viewers engage more after watching a video, with clicks for more information increasing by 30-40% and phone inquiries by 16-20%.

A DoubleClick survey revealed web video based advertisements saw their brand awareness improve amongst its audience by 10% more than standard print or audio ad formats. DoubleClick also noted that audiences appeared to favor the businesses with web video content much more than those without.

Video can help your practice stay connected and relevant. Video can raise your credibility, send a message, attract, educate and inform. Consumers respond favorably to video, especially if it is executed well.  If they are “just looking”, a video gives them a sense of what to expect before they pick up the phone or walk into your practice. It is a safe way for your prospective patient to peak inside your door and get to know you and your team in a new dimension that goes beyond a traditional web site, print ads or photos.

How often do you implement this amazing tool in your practice?  If you are, bravo! Read on to discover some uses you may not have thought of and if you would like to learn how to improve the quality of your programs, contact me using the form below this blog. If you aren’t using video, think about the ways in which video can enhance your practice’s marketing efforts.

Consider these examples of videos you might create:

1) Dentist introduction to the practice
Personal introduction to viewers: The spokesperson style delivery is presented directly to the camera (viewer). Use this technique if you are comfortable with speaking in front of a group and you present well.  The camera can be more intimidating than an audience but the beauty is that if you make a mistake, you can do it again.

Interview style: This is an edited version of an interview with the dentist that gives a sense of your personality and style. This is a great alternative for those individuals who are uncomfortable doing a spokesperson-type delivery. With this style, you will need to edit the content. There are consumer video editing options available but if you don’t have the expertise, you would be better served by getting a professional to help you edit the piece.

Caution: If you still aren’t pleased with your performance, use the medium in other areas that shine. Do not use a video for video’s sake. It can do more harm than good.

2) Special subject videos
You may also expand outside a simple introduction to the practice and create an entire library of videos discussing a variety of subjects. Any one of your team members can present these segments. Start small and test the water first. For instance, one idea we recently discussed with an orthodontist was an instructional trouble-shooting video for parents and patients with broken wires or brackets.

3) Hygienist: How I help you stay healthy
If you have a hygienist who is personable and passionate about her work, chances are she will be comfortable doing a video. This is a great way to showcase the expertise of your hygienist and raise the value of her role in the practice.

4) Patient Liaison/Coordinator: What you can expect
This should be presented by the person likely to answer the phone and work with new patients.  You must have someone who is warm, engaging and comfortable with herself. They will likely have little trouble creating a video and may be a great alternative if the dentist lacks the on camera charisma to present well to new patients.

The most successful liaison/coordinator video is presented spokesperson style, directly to the camera/viewer.

5) Virtual tour of the practice
What a great way for prospective patients to visit your practice. This can be a simple walk through the practice with pans of each area. Add music and you’re done. They get to see your reception area, your clinical area, and the environment in which you work. If your practice is clean, uncluttered and attractive, this is a nice marketing tool. If your place is cluttered, cramped, dark, or needs the expertise of an interior decorator, skip this for now and focus on improving the look of your physical plant.

6) New patient discovery process
In so many cases, patients are disconnected and uninformed about their conditions and do not have an ownership of their problems. And for most people, listening, participating and retaining information is difficult when one is reclined, mouth open and a light shining in their eyes. A video can be a powerful tool to help patients become engaged in the process and take ownership of their conditions. With the use of an intra-oral camera and simple headset or wireless lav microphone, the dentist can record the discovery process during the patient’s first visit. Add a simple pre-recorded introduction along with the recorded oral findings, burn a DVD copy and the patient leaves the first visit with a personal account of the discovery process. How many dentists do you think provide this valuable service? How might your patients respond to this level of service?

7) Happy patient testimonials
There is nothing more valuable than hearing someone’s positive story and how thrilled he or she is with your practice. Conducted interview-style, patients can provide viewers with a unique and independent perspective. Keep on the lookout for patients that are outgoing, attractive and will come across believable and natural on camera.

Patients will be most excited about their experience just after the two of you have completed your work together. Make sure you have them sign a release allowing you to use their testimonials.  You may want to set aside a special time to conduct several interviews and combine it with an appreciation reception for a select group of patients.

CAUTION: You do not want to violate confidentiality so avoid using your patient’s full name when identifying them in your video.

8)Pre-treatment Interviews
We know Before and After photos are valuable but Before and After videos are photos on steroids. Pre- and post-treatment interviews can provide a complete picture of the patient’s journey. Viewers can relate more fully as they see and hear from a patient who is about to start treatment and can follow him through the process.

One caution: Conduct these interviews only after you have reached an agreement on treatment and financial arrangements. You do not want to manipulate the patient into going ahead with treatment by using the video as a commitment tool. Instead, get the patient’s permission after arrangements have been agreed upon and finalized, and plan the interview for the day treatment begins.

9) Document special events
Tooth Fairy Day, Free Dentistry Day, a visit to the local pre-school to teach children about brushing, and other special events should be documented and included in your marketing mix. They are powerful tools that can easily be uploaded to YouTube and linked to your Facebook page or distributed to media outlets to increase the public’s awareness of the contributions you make in your community.

Distribution avenues:
So how might you use the video content? There are two avenues: web-based and hard copy distribution.

Web based distribution:
Web site:
You can plan for and post your videos on various pages of your web site.

Social networks:
Post your videos on your Facebook fan page or blog or YouTube site and create buzz. Provide links for your collaborative web partners to post on their pages too.

Hard copy distribution:
Design a DVD, or mini DVD business card that features several of your videos in an interactive format. Viewers can pick and choose what to watch based on what is relevant to them. These marketing pieces can be distributed in various venues:

-Health fairs or other community events
-Offer as part of a welcome package to the area
-Provide to your referring doctors to distribute to their patients
-Leave at health clubs, spas, urgent care facilities, etc. for people to pick up

Video can be a valuable marketing tool. It can set you apart in the marketplace. Start small, experiment and implement slowly. You will never look back.

If you would like to start the process of implementing video in your practice,  request a copy of  my HOW TO production tips: The Dentist’s Guide to Video Production