There’s a well established psychological concept in marketing called social proof. Essentially, social proof means that none of us want to be the guinea pig testing a new idea, a new service, or a new technology, for fear that it will fail and we will look like there’s a giant “L” on our foreheads for the world to see. It’s a feeling akin to walking through a high school hallway wearing headgear and two different shoes. At its core, social proof means somebody else has “been there, done that” and you’re reasonably safe giving this new idea a shot.
When I talk to doctors, I’ll often hear “Well, what are other dentists doing to market their practice?”
Clearly, they don’t want to be the kid in headgear getting shoved into a locker. So we decided to find out.
The team at Golden Proportions Marketing sent surveys to thousands of dentists to find out how the average practice thinks about marketing.
Many of the answers surprised me.
Let me share what we learned.
You need a plan, Stan
It’s been my mission for the past 20+ years to help dentists view their practice as a business, not just a healthcare service. Any successful business will tell you they have an annual marketing plan, but this used to be a rarity for dental practices. According to our research, a healthy 44% of practices now follow a strategic dental marketing plan.
That’s slightly behind the 50% national average for all small businesses – bravo, the dental industry is catching up! If you don’t have a plan, you’re clearly in the majority, but if you sense the competition creeping up on you, odds are they have a plan in place designed to put you in their rear view mirror.
The data makes the difference
Even better news, a full 50% of respondents said they regularly review their marketing analytics. In today’s digital age, there’s absolutely no excuse for not demanding full transparency of your marketing results. Gut instincts can be flawed – the data should always drive your decisions.
Think of it like comparing a visual exam to an intraoral camera exam with a panorex. Even though you’re the expert and patients should just trust you, they are far more likely to commit to treatment when they can see the problem for themselves, with your guidance. It’s human nature to trust what we see on our own.
That’s what analytics can do for your marketing.
Yet, we still go with our gut
Even though a full 89% of respondents were either somewhat or very happy with the performance of their marketing, the 38% of respondents who were “somewhat happy” or “not happy” sure had a lot of complaints about their website.
- 38% felt their dental website did not produce enough new patient leads
- 25% felt they had poor search rankings
- 18% said their website did not represent their brand well
- 9% had technical issues
- 6% had a poor mobile representation
- 4% felt their site offered a poor user experience
And, only 10% of respondents felt their SEO initiative was highly effective. Google ads fared about the same, with only 13% finding them to be highly effective, and paid social topped the list with 15% of respondents feeling this medium was highly effective.
How can we have so many dentists who seem to be pretty darn satisfied with their marketing, but also so many who feel like most of their lead generation products could be doing a whole lot better?
In a word, relationships. I’m willing to wager that our satisfaction stems from the relationships we have with the dental marketing companies we have employed. At the most human level, we like the people we have chosen to partner with, and that means we are willing to put up with average results.
Are you “normal?” Or are you exceptional?
The question I posed at the start of this article was to identify what “normal” marketing looked like for a dental practice. It appears as though average, somewhat underwhelming results are the norm among your peers, which speaks of opportunity to me. Do you practice “normal” dentistry on your patients, or do you put forth your best effort each day?
Do you tolerate team members who are just okay, or do you challenge them to create an exceptional patient experience?
I believe it’s time to raise the bar for your expectations of dental marketing. Social proof is no longer the issue. By now, we know what each practice should do to generate leads. Digital marketing, internal marketing and even advertising have all proven to have a place in your strategic plan.
The route to success comes from paying attention to your results, and challenging yourself out of your comfort zone.
To download the entire survey report, visit https://www.goldenproportions.com/resources/2022-dental-marketing-survey/.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Xaña Winans is the CEO and founder of Golden Proportions Marketing, a dental marketing company dedicated to the growth of dental practices throughout North America. Founded in 2001, her agency provides strategy driven, full service solutions including branding, internal marketing, advertising and digital marketing.
Goal driven results are at the heart of everything she creates.
Her passion for constant and never ending improvement led her to develop Smart Market Dental, the first dental marketing software designed to tie individual marketing strategies to resulting patients. The ability to measure marketing ROI in real time holds her agency to a higher standard, driving continuous improvement of their work.
Xaña is a member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants and lectures nationally on the topic of dental marketing.
She publishes regularly in Dentistry Today and Dental Economics, and is a frequent guest on industry podcasts.