If we’ve learned anything in our 20 years as entrepreneurs, business managers, and dental marketing experts, it’s that most business challenges can be solved by better communication.
The number-one issue for many of our clients over the past couple of years has been patient acquisition. And no wonder, according to a 2011 Levin Group study, the average number of new patients per month has decreased by 8.6%, and a nationwide survey revealed that the overall dental industry is down by 5%. This could be from a change in marketing mix from traditional tools to perceived lower-cost less-effective media. Or could it be because of increased competition and existing patients not remaining loyal?
But maybe it’s not that patients are not loyal. Less than 40% of US adults have been to any dentist in the past twelve months. Even when they have insurance coverage available, they simply don’t understand why it’s so important. That’s where your good old traditional patient newsletter can have a huge impact.
There has been a lot of innovation. Both print and email newsletter campaigns will keep you in open dialogue with your patients. Plus the newsletter format provides the space to expand and create ongoing strong and compelling content that reminds patients why they chose your practice in the first place, and why they must keep coming back. Our most successful clients have never missed an issue of their patient newsletter!
Take advantage of our unlimited FREE customer support and call for a consultation to talk through your practice challenges. Could you strengthen patient loyalty, reactivate more patients, and increase referrals? We have print and e-solutions to help with all retention issues. Do you want more patient love?
It really boils down to top-of-mind awareness. Check your charts. What percentage of patients-of-record has visited your practice within the last 12 months?
What happens when you play that trend forward? A typical practice loses 20-30% of patients each year through naturally occurring attrition. Stopping erosion isn’t rocket science. Provide patients value and great customer service and improve your communication plan outside of your practice and patients will appreciate you and the effort you’re making. You will increase elective services. You will increase patient satisfaction. You will increase referrals. You will improve reactivations. Educated consumers buy more. Educated patients spend more.
When you’re working on your patient communication plan, you’ll want to identify the ideal mix of touch points to ensure your practice stays top of mind. Your newsletter outreach is extremely positive and welcomed. Of 80,000 patients surveyed, 85% enjoy receiving and reading their patient newsletter. For value-added content like this, the best results come quarterly by mail and monthly by email. When you reach out to existing patients, consistently and over time, you will create more awareness and increase revenue.
Please call your Account Manager at 1.888.377.2404 today to talk about the multitude of ways that Patient News can help with your acquisition and retention efforts. As always we’re available from Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:00pm EST, and your consultation call is always free!
Business is out there if you want to have it. Recently a rep from Patterson was telling me about two clients in the same city … one is spending money – and making money. His practice is current, he’s invested in new technologies, and he has a strong marketing plan. The other just keeps crying the blues … spending nothing to change his predicament.
Which one are you?
This and many other stories came up at the AACD Annual Session in Washington DC where Karen Galley, President, and I were last week. We had a great time catching up with clients and hearing about the latest news and practice challenges. Overall the sentiment is that the industry is coming back around. While the “big four” have been down for the past couple of years (a few docs indicated they were down by as much as 20-30%), there is optimism that patients are starting come back to the importance of their oral health and to investigate bigger cases once again. I found it funny to hear that these practices are seeing a peak in endo because patients in general have been away from the practice.
Karen presented her first “big” training seminar co-hosted by Jaynie Smith (CEO, Smart Advantage) and Ernan Roman (CEO, ERDM). The room was packed! (No pressure). Jaynie queried the room, and you can give your answer to her question … What is your competitive advantage? Good customer service, great team, 15 years in business … what Jaynie calls “Blah blah blah!” She taught us that when you take something like experience and turn it into “We replaced over 1,000 crowns last year,” or good customer service and turn it into “98% of patient appointments were on time or within 10 minutes,” then you have a real competitive advantage that you can take everywhere – website, direct mail, email, signage, 8-second elevator pitch – that your team will use.
What is your competitive advantage?
Are you communicating it?
How are you communicating it?
Ernan talked about the importance of listening and understanding what your customers really want. How they want to be communicated with and the importance of handling inbound calls with excellence. He talked about consumer preference and channel trustworthiness (direct mail and email trump all the social channels). A Voice of Customer (VOC) study with Ernan can be in the range of $100,000 or more, so do keep in mind that in office questionnaires and independent patient surveys from Patient News can get you started learning about the voice of your customers.
Karen shared our top 10 tips from our 19+ years and 35,000 dental marketing campaigns, and I’ll be featuring each of these in upcoming blogs. The first tip … don’t be a one-hit wonder (aka Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby – c’mon admit it, you remember!!). But seriously – we can say with 100% certainty that every campaign that was sent out once … failed.
A campaign is a strategic program that requires realistic goals, a plan that includes multiple touch points, on-time execution, and ongoing analysis and improvements.
We have to say a special thanks to our contributing board of clients who took time out of their busy schedules to spend time with Karen and me: Dr. Mike Malone, Past President of the AACD and his wife Alma; Dr. Dennis Wells, his wife Doris, and Deb Ham from Nashville Center for Aesthetic Dentistry; Dr. Guy Gross of New Horizons Dental Care; Dr. Hamada Makarita (MAGD, FICOI, LVIM, FAACD); Dr. Guy Lewis of Texas Center for Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry; and AACD VP Jerry Woolf and his wife Ginger.
So, forget about crying the blues – get moving in your new suede shoes! Map out your strategic marketing plan and get a team working for you that will execute it effectively from start to finish … and FYI, you’re never finished… Always Be Marketing.
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