The other day, during a conversation with a dentist friend, the notion was implied that marketing a dental practice was somehow “unethical” or “taboo.”
What would make marketing a dental practice “unethical?” Do humans somehow not respond to the marketing of dentists, accountants, and lawyers the same way they do for technology, durable goods, or home improvement companies?
Were you told in school that it’s against the “code of ethics” to try to grow your practice?
Think about the last restaurant near your house that recently went out of business. Did you ever go there? Was the food and service good enough? Chances are the food and service was plenty good enough so what happened?
Odds are the restaurant suffered because they didn’t get enough new and repeat customers to fuel growth. That’s a direct function of marketing!
Are you in jeopardy of suffering the same fate as that restaurant around the corner?
You already know that only 1 in 25 businesses (4%) survive 10 years, right? Translated: 96% of businesses fail by year 10. So… how old is your practice? Nobody needs to tell you that if it’s less than 10 years old, you’re up against some serious odds.
Still think marketing your dental practice is a tad “unethical?” Sure, it’s a bit harsh to put it that way, but isn’t it time to get over the stereotype that marketing is “bad” or somehow “evil?”
The legal field used to view marketing the same way, but how many ads have you seen in the last 24 hours for a personal injury attorney? How many attorneys do you know that don’t market? How well are they doing versus the ones that consistently market their practices?
Let’s talk about a few things to determine if you’re on the right track.
Word of Mouth Only?
A lot of dentists believe, right or wrong, that word of mouth should fuel the consistent growth of their practice so advertising and marketing isn’t necessary. In theory, that’s a great scenario should it play out as intended, but reality seldom plays out in such an idealistic fashion.
1 Negative Experience…
What happens if the word of mouth pool dries up or someone has a bad experience with your practice? You know that word will spread much quicker and the consequences are much more impactful.
If your dental practice were advertising and marketing on a consistent basis, one or two negative experiences won’t threaten your long-term well-being even though most people dislike trips to the dentist office.
Keep this in mind: with all of the social networking sites freely available to anyone, your practice is in jeopardy if you’re not involved in social media or regularly marketing to counter one or two “bad apples.”
The same can be said for a disgruntled employee… nothing is stopping them from setting up shop online and spreading negativity about your practice. Even if you’re not actively participating in social networking, at least keep an open eye and ear to it.
How Can Potential New Patients Find You?
How are new patients discovering your practice now? Do you track the sources of new patients and how long a new patient typically stays with your practice? What things can you do to make it easier for new patients to come to you?
Do You Have a Strong Web Presence?
Consider your website for a moment. Do you hold a prominent position in the search engine results pages on Google, Yahoo, or Bing? What happens if someone searches online for a new dentist in your area… will they find your practice?
One final question: if you’re not advertising and marketing consistently, what steps are you taking to help your potential new patients find you easier?
Remember, it’s not about being “unethical” rather surviving in a tough economy at a time when people are relying on the Internet more and more before selecting a solution provider.