Dental Marketing 101
Much of marketing involves testing which is a fancy word for trial and error. My dad was considered Madison Avenue's top copywriter back in the day. One of the original Mad Men.
His client roster was a who's who of Fortune 500 companies. He would submit copy to a client but, the copy would always be tested on a very small slice of the client's database. If the test produced the desired percentage of response than it would be used for the entire database.
If not, back to the drawing board. You can increase your chance of success by getting surveys done first which you can then base your promotion on. My dad wrote his copy instinctively without surveys.
But surveys cost money and most dental practices, especially dental offices that are struggling with new patients, have a fairly limited marketing budget. So what to do?
Keeping track of each marketing action’s results is a vital management function for any dental practice. You can try different marketing actions to see what produces response with the best ROI. What will work in one town may not work in another town. Door hangers might work great for you. In another town they may not. They may even be a turnoff. Who knows until you do some testing?
Equally important is what the offer will be. For example a discounted new patient exam might produce a response in your area or it might not. Perhaps an offer of teeth whitening will produce the desired response. It's all about testing (trial and error) to see what works for the best ROI.
With our clients we like to approach marketing as follows:
1. Institute a good internal marketing program which success is based on assigning responsibility of it to one staff member and monitoring the program with weekly statistics. For an established practice, we generally find that's all we need to do to generate the number of new patients needed for the practice.
2. If internal marketing alone does not produce the desired results we recommend looking first at the least expensive overall marketing actions available such as newspaper ads where financially feasible (rural and suburban towns), websites with SEO work as well as Google PPC campaigns provided you have somebody who knows what they're doing. Websites done correctly (see Dr. Mike Barr's book) can be a bit costly but the costs are up front for the most part so once the website is up you're really only talking the cost of maintenance and the hosting fee on a monthly basis. Improving signage at your dental practice location can be one of the best ROIs. In fact, good office signage would probably be the first thing to do as far as external marketing.
Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Dental Consultants, Senior Consultant, got bitten hard by the business and marketing bug during long summer days working at his dad's Madison Avenue ad agency. After joining Cambridge as a speaker in the mid-1990s, Kevin went on to become Cambridge's senior consultant and eventually CEO. Cambridge Dental Consultants is a full-service dental practice management company offering customized dental office manuals. Frustrated? High overhead? Schedule a chat with Kevin at
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There is the good, the bad and the ugly of dental practice management, but many dentists will still tell you the probability is your dental consulting will work if you and your consultant are on the same page. It stands to reason that if a dental consultant had little value, worth or benefit that consultant could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. A veteran dental consultant is also a "personal coach" who shold bring management wisdom based on "in the trenches" experience along with systems and protocols to that have been successfully implemented in other practices. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what systems work and don't across many dental practices.
New Patient Phone Call
New Patient Experience and Patient Education
Daily and Weekly Checklists
General Policy Manual
What gets monitored, gets managed. It is as simple as that. The only way to monitor what gets done is with daily stats especially for your weak areas. For example, one employee should be specifically responsible for calls to patients who are unscheduled, overdue for re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee.
What most practice owners are lack in knowledge is not how to book an appointment, but rather how to be an effective leader. The best systems in the world are useless if the staff do not comply. Good leaders know how to get staff to willingly follow through and comply.
Questions To Ask
Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?
Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance?There are advantages to both.
If the dental consulting is one on one who will actually deliver the consulting? I recommend knowing who your specific dental consultant will be prior to signing on the dotted line.
Is program based on a specific dental practice management system? You want to avoid cookie-cutter programs. Ensure the program will be tailor-made to fit your practice's specific needs.
The cost (including travel expenses and downtime) is certainly not the only factor, everything else being equal, it is still a major factor to consider. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little.
Top Dental Practice Mangement Consultant
My name is Kevin Tighe. Consultant. Coach. Mentor.
My mission is to advise, recommend and help implement proven systems to grow your practice .
Before joining the Cambridge team I was in charge of setting up workshops for large nonprofits throughout the United States and Canada. During that time, I was fortunate to receive mentoring from several world-class business consultants, including a dental practice management guru, which led to a position at Cambridge as their seminar organizer. In time, I began crisscrossing the country delivering seminars myself for the better part of a decade. Subsequently, I moved up to senior consultant and eventually partner and now sole owner.
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