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a blog by Chris Barrow

Marketing Plans are dead. Enter the Practice Growth Plan

“Marketing” is misunderstood and it’s costing you money.

Marketing is not Advertising.

Advertising – telling strangers how clever you are (credibility).

“Our clinicians have placed over 1,000 implants.”

Advertising – telling strangers how you do it (capability).

“We deliver state of the art dentistry using the very latest digital equipment.”

Advertising – telling strangers what you do (menu).

“We do invisible braces.”

Advertising – telling strangers that you are the cheapest (cost).

“We are offering £1,000 off the normal price and 0% finance.”

The currency of advertising is SPEND.

It’s difficult to measure the ROI on advertising.

It’s difficult to be heard in the advertising world – there is a lot of noise every day – you and I have developed immunity.

Marketing is not Lead Generation.

Lead generation is what you do to get strangers in the door.

Lead generation targets specific communities of strangers identified by post code, demographic, socio-economics, occupation (or any other criteria you choose) and fires a print media or digital shotgun in their general direction in the hope that some of them will be hit.

The currency of lead generation is SPEND.

Spend lots of your money to get a few strangers and hope that they spend enough of their money to give you a positive ROI.

Marketing is Awareness.

Awareness is all the things you do to get noticed by strangers, even though you are not necessarily advertising or generating leads.

Examples include:

  1. if you have plenty of walk-by – an A-Board on the pavement

  2. if you have plenty of drive-by – posters in the windows

  3. independent radio

  4. print media visibility

  5. digital visibility

  6. local B2B abd B2C networking, exhibiting, publishing and speaking

The currency of awareness is SPEND. It’s not as expensive as advertising and lead generation and the results take longer. Awareness is a slow burn – a long game.

Marketing is asking for recommendations.

Nowadays, that happens in two dimensions:

  1. word of mouth

  2. a face to face request to pass on business cards

  3. a face to face request for a testimonial

  4. digitally

  5. a request to subscribe to a monthly patient newsletter (and then share it)

  6. a selfie or video posted on the patient’s Facebook profile or Instagram account

  7. a like

  8. a comment

  9. a check in

  10. a review on social media or on an independent review site

The currency of asking for recommendations is time.

Taking the time out at your morning huddle to identify those patients who are due for an end of treatment conversation or may just be willing to help anyway after a dental health review.

Take the time out with a patient to conduct a properly structured end of treatment conversation.

Marketing is storytelling.

  1. Could you tell us what circumstances had you considering dental treatment in the first place?

  2. Could you tell us how you found out about the practice and what research you did before contacting us for the first time?

  3. Could you tell us about your experience as a patient from the start to the finish of your journey?

  4. Could you tell us what difference having this treatment has made for you?

Capturing those answers in writing or (preferably) on video and using them across your advertising (instead of credibility, capability, menus and cost), in your lead generation campaigns and as part of your awareness process.

So your practice doesn’t need a marketing plan – it needs a Practice Growth Plan each year.

Your Practice Growth Plan is populated by the answers to 5 questions:

  1. What is our advertising plan?

  2. What is our lead generation plan?

  3. What is our awareness plan?

  4. What is our recommendation plan?

  5. What is our story collection plan?

If you cannot answer all 5 of these questions accurately, the chances are that a lot of your current “marketing activity” is producing only a fraction of its potential.

Not understanding this is costing you money.

It’s time to take this more seriously.

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