By Thaddeus Rowell, DMD
A dentist is no longer just a dentist. To survive in today’s economic climate, a dentist must shift attention to matters such as employee management, OSHA compliance, malpractice, web presence, and search-engine optimization. This “juggling act” has forced dentists to wear too many hats and sacrifice the one thing that led them to dentistry in the first place, caring for patients. In order to regain this lost identity, dentists must develop creative and efficient ways of marketing.
Today, marketing companies offer endless opportunities to promote a dental office. However, a dentist must be careful and prudent to avoid potential scams and maximize their investment. Through my many years in practice, I have found the most important factor in ensuring your marketing dollars don’t go to waste is internal marketing. This includes the demeanor and outlook of the staff, office theme and décor, cleanliness, and anything else that enhances the patient’s overall experience during a visit. Marketing will surely increase traffic; however, that is only half the battle. The key to marketing is making sure that patients enjoy their visit and come back.
Perhaps one of the best marketing decisions I made was investing in the Dino Chair. As traffic slowed in my office, I decided to incorporate pediatrics along with an aggressive internet and billboard marketing campaign. The marketing was initially successful as patients found their way to my office. However, the results were short-lived as patients failed to schedule return visits. I felt that my office lacked the “feel” of a pediatric office, and therefore, patients weren’t convinced of what I was offering. Later that month at a dental show, I stumbled upon the “Dino Chair”, a dinosaur-themed pediatric chair that kids seemed to love. I quickly invested in the chair and incorporated it into my marketing campaign, advertising the chair online, on billboards, T-shirts, and stickers. The small investment quickly paid off. Kids were suddenly excited to come visit my office, sit on the Dino Chair and watch movies on its DVD-playing monitor. Furthermore, I was happy with its functionality, as I could comfortably perform all dental procedures with easy access to instruments, smooth maneuverability, and the state-of-the-art hands-free LED light. I now run a full-family practice treating both kids and parents, keeping existing patients even as they outgrow the appeal of the Dino Chair.
I feel that the Dino Chair is only one of endless opportunities yet to be explored. In this new era of dental management and marketing, a dentist must evolve in order to survive. Therefore, it is important to keep an open mind and experiment with novel approaches to running your office. Embracing such a strategy will enhance the time you have to care for your patients and grow your business in ways you never thought possible.