04 Feb How good is your marketing? Part 1
Does what you do, do what you want?
Owning your own practice is a great adventure and the achievement of a long-term ambition for many dentists. But it requires many skills that you don’t learn at medical school. For example, property investment, accountancy, bookkeeping, and marketing. You suddenly launch yourself from being a confident, qualified and highly competent professional into being a complete business novice.
Marketing is not intuitive
Although I don’t own a dental practice, I do own a 50% share of a start-up PR and marketing consultancy run jointly with my husband. I’m a dental nurse with previous experience in social care and art therapy. The closest to running my own business was working part-time as a freelance artist. Likewise, although Chris has over 27-years of PR experience, he’s never previously run his own business. And embarrassingly, the biggest mistake we’ve made was initially failing to pay attention to our own marketing and business development processes.
So, we’ve fessed up and learned some lessons. We’ve got our friends and clients to look critically at what we do within our marketing campaigns and made changes. And we’ve realised that, even for seasoned marketing professionals, marketing your own business is NOT intuitive.
The biggest problem with marketing is that it requires time, energy and cash. Success comes from blending these to produce the best possible result. For us, all our time and energy were being directed towards client campaigns leaving no time or energy for our own campaigns. It’s taken some big changes to turn this around.
For a dental practice, this is an even more pressing problem. For any dentist – whether working in 100% NHS, Community Services or exclusively private cosmetic referrals – time is money. And marketing is certainly capable of using your time and spending your money.
This is not a sales pitch (though we do offer training courses). We don’t specialise in the type of Business to Consumer (B2C) marketing that dentists need to do. This is the start of a short series of articles offering practical advice about how to ORGANISE your marketing so it does what you want it to do.
And our first advice is to define your marketing ‘infrastructure’.
It’s amazing how many people enter into marketing campaigns without having done this, or at least having failed to think about the ‘opportunity costs’ involved.
The first thing we would advise you to do is identify an internal resource that can dedicate a proportion of their time to marketing. It doesn’t matter if that is 10% or 100% – so long as it’s realistic and so long as that time is seen as ‘valuable’ so it won’t be reprioritised and reallocated to other tasks.
As we’ve already said, for dental practices, time is money. If you know next to nothing about marketing, does it, therefore, make sense for a fee-earner to start that learning curve and dedicate time, or would it make more sense to ask a nurse to step up and take responsibility for marketing?
Have a look at the CV’s of your nurses and pick out any with business or marketing qualifications, or good GCSE English or Art grades. Strength in any of these areas will help them. Better yet, strength in all these areas means they probably want to work in PR or marketing anyway. Ask them if they would like to spend part of their time dedicated to running the practice marketing campaigns, and seize on any enthusiasm.
Marketing is time-intensive. It doesn’t matter if that time comes from internal resources or is bought from an agency, you need to invest time to get results.
Think about what you want to achieve with your marketing. Is it more patients? Fewer FTAs? Improved ancillary (sundry) sales? You might be more interested in personal profiling to promote a book you’ve written. Working out your goals is a vital part of the programme.
Next, think about how much your business can afford to invest in your marketing campaign.
Whoever is responsible for your marketing now has the responsibility of balancing goals against investment. And you need to empower them to do this with training (the Chartered Institute of Marketing or Chartered Institute of Public Relations would be good places to start finding short courses and qualification programmes) and personal support. And the first task you should support them in is how to evaluate what you do already.
Next time we will talk through some of the methods and tools you can use to evaluate your current marketing activities. We will help you identify wasted efforts, savings and missing elements.
Why is this important for Pearl users?
Pearl Dental Software offers many built-in tools that can be used in marketing campaigns. While Pearl doesn’t offer complete campaign management solutions, it provides the tools necessary for promotions within your patient community, to make it easy for new patients to register, and tools to evaluate the service you provide. This series will help you make the best use of those tools.
Meanwhile, for more information about marketing tools within Pearl Dental Software, search the ‘Ideas and Opinions‘ tab of our website for previous posts and articles using the categories ‘Best Practice Ideas’ and ‘Business’. Or contact us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0116 275 9995