Colin Receveur Shares His Top Three Dental Marketing Tips
We sat down with Web marketing expert Colin Receveur and asked him to share his thoughts on current trends in dental marketing.
Tell us about the work you do for dentists and dental specialists.
There are lots of marketing providers for dentists, especially in the Web world. Many handle one or two elements of the dental marketing equation. They may provide search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click marketing, social media services or blogging support. Imagine that you have a 1,000-piece puzzle, but no one knows how to put it together. Everyone thinks they have the right piece. In the digital marketing arena, it seems like everyone has a solution or a new piece they’re trying to sell.
But we know it’s about much more than marketing tools. It’s about putting new patients in the chair. At SmartBox, we put the pieces together, from press releases, SEO, online reputation, in-house video solutions to improve staff performance and more. It’s important to keep the dentist’s name in front of prospective patients, especially for elective cases with long buying cycles. And of course, we provide tracking so dentists know their return on investment.
What excites and energizes you most about your work with dentists?
I really enjoy working with our clients directly, getting down to business and helping them succeed. I like to find the glitches in their marketing efforts. Some dentists have great visibility online, but no resulting gain in patient numbers. I take a look at their marketing campaigns and patient-attracting systems to see what could be done more effectively, give better return on investment, and get more and better patients. I also want to help them reach their personal goals, which is often retirement.
What are the top three marketing tips that you’d like to share with dental specialists?
1. Don’t forget that marketing hasn’t changed in a thousand years.
It’s still about being top-of-mind with people who need your services. Dental practitioners get distracted by silver bullets and whiz-bang gadgets. But they can too easily lose track of the big picture: attracting patients. The dentist may be able to see the practice’s pay-per-click status, but their office telephones aren’t ringing. Or they do direct mail and get people in the office, but they’re the wrong kind of patients to grow their practice
2. Dentists need to look at metrics that matter.
The tools you use don’t define the end results. When you build a house, you don’t judge it by the hammer the builder uses, but by the final product. I recently had a telephone call from a dental marketing vendor. I asked him what decisions the dentist client we were discussing had made based on the data his company had provided in the past six months. He didn’t understand the question. Dentists have to know how these activities benefit their bottom line.
3. You still have to connect with your patients.
Remember that 80% of buying decisions aren’t based on credentials, degrees or certifications. Patients make decisions based on such factors as whether they like you and what they think of your reputation. They wonder if you’ll hurt them, which is an emotional consideration. They consider convenience—what are your hours and are you in a convenient location?
Patients don’t care about what you do. They care about why you do it. Patients expect you to solve specific problems. They don’t care what the resolution is any more than a dentist cares what kind of pipe fitting a plumber will use to fix a burst pipe. Patients don’t care about the particulars of the crown—they just want to be able to chew again. That’s how they make decisions. Dentists must remember that patients use professional credentials to rationalize their choices, but often make decisions based largely on emotion.
What are the biggest mistakes you have seen dentists make over the years?
I’ve seen a lot of dentists spend $3,000 to $5,000, or whatever the price point is, on a Web site, and the Web site is not good. It may have a couple of shiny objects on it, but it doesn’t produce results. Then they spend even more money on that Web site, trying to get it to produce. They don’t want to waste the original money spent on the site. Ultimately they’ll conclude, “Oh, pay per click doesn’t work,” or whatever they perceive the failure to be. The bottom line is that the Web site isn’t producing.
Dentists have to decide if they want their Web sites to look like a Kia or a Mercedes. I hear that Kia makes good cars now, but in the past they didn’t last long before they fell apart. If you buy a Mercedes, you get 10 years out of it, or longer. There are cookie-cutter Web sites out there. But the dentists who spend the time and money to do it right are the ones taking the lion’s share of patients.
Similarly, when it comes to direct marketing, I’ve seen dentists try to make up for bad creative content with greater volume. But the creative content is still bad, and the direct marketing campaign doesn’t produce results.
What are the biggest changes and trends impacting dental specialists in recent years?
Google is a force to be recognized. If you look up changes and trends in the dictionary, you just might find Google’s logo! They have a solid understanding of what the consumer wants—never mind that it impacts marketing efforts. Dentists have to play by Google’s rules. Because Google wants everything uniquely written, it will penalize dentists who have two Web sites with duplicate content. Some dentists work with companies that develop blog content, but it’s the same copy on a hundred other Web sites. Changes in the digital world have made a big impact on dental marketing.
There are always technology changes, but marketing concepts stay the same. First and foremost, dentists need to address their patients’ needs.
What do you think the future holds for dental specialists?
Insurance reimbursements continue to decline. Corporate dentistry is increasing. General practitioners are getting squeezed on both ends, especially the ones trying to compete on price. Dentists need to remember that 50% of patients are motivated by cost. Practitioners cannot compete with corporate dentistry on price—these businesses have many offices to your one. The general dentist will have to do more treatments in-house rather than referring patients to specialists.
General practitioners must realize that the golden age of dentistry has ended. They need more than a sign on the door to attract patients. For specialists, the economy dictates that they can no longer sit back and collect referrals. Specialists are going out into the marketplace, and that includes directly targeting patients who need large-scale oral reconstruction. This is what the future will hold for dental specialists.
How does your work help dentists and specialists address the changes and challenges in dentistry?
As case size increases for specialists, so does the trust required from patients. Complicated cases, in particular, require a long-term patient commitment and 24-month buying cycle. Dentists need a marketing plan in place that successfully attracts a steady stream of patients. That’s what we do.
Colin Receveur, founder and CEO of SmartBox Web Marketing, is a nationally recognized speaker, author and expert in dental Web marketing. For the last decade, he has pioneered changes in the way dentists market themselves online. Since incorporating in 2001, Colin has established a rock-solid track record with dentists, turning SmartBox into a marketing icon of proven results for hundreds of dental practices.
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