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a blog by Chris Barrow

What to do when your team don’t want to get involved with internal marketing

The challenge of external marketing is to invest your money in an agency, a consultant or their system and then wait, in the hope that they will do as they promised, stay as much in love with you as they were when you were a first date and measurably produce the goods.

By the way – a good mantra for all freelancers and agencies:

  1. do what you said you were going to do;

  2. stay in love;

  3. create a measurable ROI.

The challenge with internal marketing is to get the whole dental team on board with the idea that you are a marketing and sales-driven organisation and that every patient is an advocate and ambassador, every patient can refer, every patient is a member of your sales force.

Solving the first problem (finding external marketing that works) is best approached by:

  1. requesting detailed testimonials from people you trust and who can vouch for the agency, consultant or system you have been recommended to use;

  2. taking the initiative in demanding regular face to face follow up meetings;

  3. establishing the KPI’s on which the commercial relationship will be based.

Solving the second problem (getting your team on board with marketing) is a very tough call – in fact I would argue one of the toughest challenges I’m currently facing as a business coach.

You see, it’s relatively easy to enthuse a Principal, a manager or a TCO with the idea that internal marketing is less costly and produces a lower number of better qualified new patients who are likely to spend more and stay loyal.

Internal marketing is about:

  1. an emotional patient recall system;

  2. effective and responsible use of social media;

  3. a web site that works;

  4. a practice blog;

  5. an email patient newsletter

  6. an opportunity-focused morning huddle;

  7. a polished “end of treatment” conversation;

  8. getting locally published;

  9. public speaking in your community;

  10. B2C and B2B networking in your community

I’ve created a well-received Mind-Map on these 10 steps that will be available as a free download with the next issue of my monthly email newsletter (if you haven’t subscribed, you can do so on my web site home page and receive a free-ebook on internal marketing).

I was asked by a client “in your view CB, which of these 10 steps is the most important?”

My answer – Step 6 – the opportunity-focused morning huddle.

At last week’s Practice Plan lecture (with Ashley Latter), I asked the audience how many did NOT have a morning huddle – about a third of those attending based on a show of hands (that is progress).

For those who do – I wonder how much of the meeting is operational niff-naff and trivia (with bored team members checking their iPhones) and how much is focused on a formula I have shared here before (ERSCRTM)?:

“Let’s go through the day-list and identify who, if anyone, we can ask:

  1. for an E-MAIL address (and consent to add them to our newsletter database);

  2. to take away 3 business REFERRAL cards;

  3. to agree to a SELFIE;

  4. to CHECK-IN on their Facebook profile;

  5. to write a REVIEW;

  6. to agree to a written or video TESTIMONIAL;

  7. to become a MEMBER of our plan.

and let’s decide who will be asking whom and when.”

Here’s my experience…

It is harder to get a dental team on board with internal marketing than it is to find a decent external agency, consultant or system that works.

The harder something is the more worthwhile it is to do it.

So I offer my support to those long-suffering Principals, managers and TCO’s who feel as if they are alone in their own business, looking for internal marketing opportunities but with little or no support from the team around them, who are ready with a list of excuses as to why internal marketing cannot be done:

  1. I haven’t got the time – I’m busy already;

  2. our patients aren’t on the internet/don’t have email addresses/don’t use social media;

  3. I only do that which is clinically necessary and don’t want to appear pushy;

  4. this is all well and good but it won’t work in our post-code;

  5. I don’t like sales

All of which are simply a cover for “I don’t like change”.

What’s the answer?

It’s not pretty I’m afraid.

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

The Principals, managers and TCOs have to accept that this is a marathon and not a sprint, that however rude, objectionable and disinterested certain team members can be, you are not going to give up.

This is the way it’s going to be around here – we are holding opportunity-focused morning huddles and we are going to be asking our patients to support us. We are going to be posting onto social media and creating content for our blog and newsletter, we are going to follow the 10 steps outlined above and we are going to go through the ERSCRTM list every day without fail.

If you cannot deal with that – it’s because your skill set and attitudes would be best suited to a practice that doesn’t do any marketing – that is not us.

It’s no wonder that many practices give up on this and reach for the external agencies, consultants and systems, preferring the fear of the unknown to the confrontational nature of dragging a team onside.

However, I want to end with some good news.

I am working with practices whose determination is paying off, with teams for whom the internal marketing penny is dropping and the results are beginning to appear. This produces two welcome consequences:

  1. the team members who are not on the bus get off the bus;

  2. the team members who are on the bus realise that internal marketing can be fun and is hugely rewarding at many levels.

It’s time to get tough with your team. Dentistry 2017 and beyond is no place for people who dislike sales.

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