Thursday, July 29, 2010

External Marketing

Hey all,

In this section of the daily blog, I usually will write stuff that has been going on with me. I have stopped this a bit because it makes the blog kind of long. I have, in the past, written about what books I am reading and what movies I have watched. It was my opinion that it was taking away from the blog.

I know most of you are silent readers; you read, you don't comment, but you are happy. So, if you thought that the book and movie thing was fun and you want it back then you are going to have to say so. And if you think it is better that I left it out, then I want you to say something about that too. I am a big boy, I can handle constructive criticism. Here is your chance, but if I don't hear anything I am going to leave it the way it is.

Now that we got the business part of today's blog out of the way, lets get on with this shall we?

In lieu of the downer blog on Wednesday, I wanted to talk about how we are handling this. Things are slow, but what are we doing about it? How are we generating interest in our respective practices?

I have talked about how I think that treating people well is JOB ONE. That is, making your service Ritz-Carltonesque is so important. I think doing excellent dentistry and making them aware of your talent are also very important.

What I am talking about is showing them. Take before and afters, and show them how crappy it looked before and how awesome it looks now. Dust off your intra oral camera and show them your hard work.

Before internal bleaching
After internal bleaching.
Before internal bleaching and a new filling
After internal bleaching and a new filling.

I get so many WOWs. People are impressed. Occasionally, some one will ask if I can do that to some of their other teeth. And, well, it is good for my ego.

I have told you that every new patient that comes to my office gets a hand-written card welcoming them to the practice and thanking them for choosing our office. I told you that everyone that refers someone to our office gets a $20 gas card. I am constantly talking to my good patients about sending their friends. I think we've got the internal marketing down.

It is the external marketing I want to talk about today. We spoke a couple of months ago about generating traffic to your website. I've got this company called and they definitely got a lot of traffic to my site. Three months ago, I had 3500 hits to my site in 4 years. Now, after about 3 months, there have been close to 10,000 hits. That's 6500 hits to my site in 3 months and exactly ZERO people called my office because of it. But, this was free, so my expectations were really low.

Now for some things I might pay for...

My office is at the front of a neighborhood and country club. This neighborhood has 2500 homes in it. You read that right two thousand, five hundred homes.
They have a neighborhood directory. Now you know what these directories look like.
They have some ads in the front. They have all the phone numbers of everyone and sprinkled through the book are some more ads.

To me there were two choices - don't be in the directory or be in the front. I was not going to waste any money on an 8th of a page ad on page 29. To me, no one will ever see this. So I didn't think I had a choice. I had to be in this book, so that meant I was going to pay for a premium page. I bought the inside cover page and I paid out the wazoo for it, but I am at least going to be seen by my neighbors.

I am in 3 of directories of this type. I feel like I am supporting the community that has been good to me for a long time. I have to say that I don't do much more than this. I have never been a radio guy or newspaper guy. I have never really felt like the putting an ad in the high school yearbook or football program has ever generated any interest in my practice. I have done the postcard thing before but with very mixed results.

One time we did postcards and they worked. I think we sent out 1500 cards and we tracked about 30 patients from it (these numbers are off the top of my head so they could be totally off). We were thrilled. Then we did another wave of postcards, this time... nothing.

Then, trying to get people in, we did the new patient exam at a discounted rate. Once, we sent out postcards that said we would give you a free electric toothbrush if you came in for a new patient exam. Well, everyone was coming in, getting the toothbrushes, and never coming back. So now I am not a postcard guy.

Like I have said a million times... I am just a dentist. I don't know what I am doing most of the time. I don't know what type of marketing works. But I know that if it does work one time, that doesn't mean it will work again. I have a very plain website and I have never really felt that an awesome website was going to generate interest in my office.

Help me. I know you guys/gals are doing stuff that is working. Tell me your secrets. Anyone have a radio show or tried radio ads? How about the newspaper?

Have a great weekend,


Anonymous said...

We have always been an non-external marketing practice...lots of internal marketing and superior service but not much effort on ads, etc. Less than 1% of our gross went to external marketing. Now, the last few years have changed that. The two greatest sucesses have been our website (with an associated service to keep our name at the top or near the top on a Google search) and the outside sign. We used to have 99% of new patient from internal sources,but the total number dropped drastically 3 yrs ago. Now the numbers are up and 30% come from sign or website shoppers. Staff needs to be trained on how to handle shoppers; for our practice if we get them in the door we usually keep them. We have also had some limited success with Angie's list (consumer referral club) and magazines targeting women 40 yrs and older (females make most of the decisions on who to see in a family) In the last 6 mo we have seen an improvement in NP flow...hope yours increases soon! Cynthia Becker DDS MAGD PS Please feel free to check our website at We made substantial improvements to it before we started getting actual patient calls....

jayber said...

bring back the movies and books. sometimes your opinions are suspect, but we love you anyway.

Anonymous said...


Keep it up. Including some of your personal experiences like movies and books is a nice break from the dental talk. I would absolutely continue to include it. As for marketing, whatever we may have tried in the past, there is nothing that compares to word of mouth. Anyone that comes to the practice based on some kind of advertising, oftentimes just doesn't 'fit' into the practice and is looking for a bargain or a quick fix. We evolved into a family practice, and it is those long-term relationships that we have come to enjoy the most and keep the practice going strong (even though things are slow--no question about it). So when a patient refers their co-worker, neighbor, uncle, cousin, sister....we know we are doing something right, and those people come in with some sense of community.
In summary, I have continued only a very limited church-based advertisement with limited success. Now seeing that you are right across the street from a potential source of say maybe 8 to 10K patients in the 2500 homes, it sounds like to good an opportunity to tap into a new group of people. Its only money after all.......
Hope all is well!!

Rich Morales
UFCD Class of 95
Coral Gables, FL

Anonymous said...

i like the personal stories, john: keep them coming.

identify the VIPs of the practice (top 5 high $ spenders/year and top 5 referrals/year) and reward them at year end. we do a personal thank you card, a phone call, and a $100 Nordstrom's gift card during X-mas... $1K, and i can't tell you what buzz that generates.

make sure your good patients take a moment and write a Yelp/citysearch review for you. i can's stand Yelp, but positive reviews are huge.

do you have a local small biz association? join, get involved, run for the board! other small biz folk need to see your face, know you, and send their families to you.

I haven't spent a dime on external ads in 3 years, and like Dr. Becker, we are 99% in-house referrals.

have a good weekend!

Ju Blaine said...

way to go Gammichia

Anonymous said...

I enjoy all of your blog posts no matter what the content, whether they are talking about books, movies, dentistry, the challenges of running a business in today's economy, how your marathon training is going or any other topic. Post whatever you want. I will read it and enjoy it.

best Toronto dentist said...

I'm a dentist like you but I'm not that into blogging. But after reading your posts, I think that I better start blogging my experience in dentistry to exchange ideas with my colleagues.

gatordmd said...


Just remember a couple of things about Blogging.
First, I am a professional and I make look this look easy. It is not.
If you are going to blog, remember one thing. EVERYONE is going to read it. If you think people will not see it they will.
So if you have an issue at work and want to write about you staff...think twice.
If you are going to write about a colleague, don't do it.

And people can be mean.
So with that being said, "Blog away" Let me know.
I will read it.

fashy said...

This is my first time to read your blog post, look strange those teeth's
but at all It's a great thing that you've doing your job very well and gives a smile to all your patient's. Keep on posting what else you want to share, may be I should follow your page even if you change the topic. I will read it. Keep up the good work.


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