Dental Marketing – Basic Principles Lay a Foundation For Results

Marketing is vital to building a successful dental practice. By clearly defining its services and reaching out to the community in targeted ways, a dental practice can create and keep a stable customer base and ensure long-term profitability.

Like all business marketing, dental marketing requires a coherent strategy that will communicate the practice’s mission and services to potential clients. A strategy provides the framework within which the practice can carry out its marketing plan. A goal-oriented plan provides the specific action steps that connect customers and services.

For example: A dental practice sets the goal of increasing its customer base by 20 percent in one year. The marketing strategy is to contact potential clients through referrals, the Internet and direct-mailing. The plan involves establishing incentives for referrals, building a website and creating an effective postcard for mailings. Having goals and a plan to reach them allows the practice to measure its results and respond effectively to a changing marketplace.

The overall marketing mission can be divided into five stages:

Define your goals.
Do your research.
Develop your strategy.
Implement your plan.
Measure your results.
This process allows a dental practice to use its time and money in the most effective ways possible.
SMART principles are useful tools for building a marketing plan. This easy-to-remember acronym refers to goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. Applying these principles throughout the five-stage process can keep a plan on track and increase its probability for success.

o Be specific in all aspects of your planning and execution. For example: Your goal is to increase the total customer base by 20 percent in one year. Your overall marketing budget is $50,000 and will be spent in three distinct ways: improving referrals, a website upgrade and direct mail.

o Establish measurable goals and measure your results. Vague goals and loose plans can sink your marketing efforts. Being specific when goal-setting allows you to measure your progress. The goal to build the customer base means little without knowing how much you want to build it. A starting point and a goal allow you to assess the effectiveness of your marketing plan and make meaningful adjustments along the way.

o Your goals should be achievable. Market research will assist you in establishing objectives you can reasonably hope to meet. By understanding the competitive landscape and the best methods for reaching out to your community you can establish reasonable expectations for growth. Shooting for goals that cannot be met – doubling your client base in two months, for example – can waste your money and your time.

o Be realistic. An effective dental marketing plan begins with the honest assessment of your services, skills, budget and competition. A dental practice must fit with the needs and demographics of its community; a marketing plan must operate within a budget; and the marketing methods you choose must have the potential to succeed.

o A time-based plan keeps you on track. Specific, achievable and realistic marketing goals should be laid out in a time frame that allows you to measure their effectiveness. Some marketing methods may produce results faster than others. You want to give an approach enough time to produce results, but not so much time that you waste resources on a dead end. For example, a direct-mailing may yield a surge of business, while building a website may build business slowly over a period of time.

These basic principles can set the foundation for a profitable dental marketing strategy and allow the practice to respond quickly and effectively to changing market conditions.

Keep Restaurant Staff Safe with Personal Protective Equipment

PPE can help protect against many dangers in the workplace, including cuts and burns from hot cooking surfaces, slips and falls on wet floors, exposure to chemicals or allergens in food preparation areas, and much more.

PPE is an important tool in keeping restaurant staff safe. The most common types of personal protective equipment are things like gloves, aprons, ear protection and glasses. These are all good choices for protecting against injuries while you work, but it’s also worth noting that there are many other options available when it comes to choosing the right kind of protective gear. For example, if your employees were working with chemicals or cleaning solutions on a regular basis, they might need more than just simple rubber gloves; eye protection would be necessary as well so their eyes wouldn’t get damaged by any splashes or sprays. So whatever specific hazards your business may face due to food processing or preparation methods (or anything else), make sure you have access to whatever kind of personal protective equipment you need, and that your employees have the training they require to use it properly.

Personal Protective Equipment is designed to protect people from injuries while they work. It’s also worth noting that there are many other options available when it comes to choosing the right kind of protective gear for specific hazards in your business or industry.

Direct Mail 101

How many junk emails do you receive each day? 50? 100? 200? More? While many of these communications are definitely unwanted and undesirable, some do provide valuable information about products and services you might actually want to buy. However, more often than not, these messages are deleted along with all of the other unwanted e-mails.

That’s why many organizations are going back to utilizing good old-fashioned postcards, letters and other correspondence via the Post Office. However, while thousands of e-mails can be sent for virtually pennies, there can be a substantial cost in developing a direct mail campaign. Therefore, it’s critical to strategically plan your campaign in order to ensure its success.

Think about the postcards you receive in the mail. Some are inexpensively produced, often by printing in black on a piece of 8 ½ x 11 colored card stock, then cutting the paper into four individual cards. No matter what the product or service that is offered on these cards, do you even pay attention to them? To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “Cheap is as cheap does.”

If you’re asking a potential client to spend hundreds (thousands?) of dollars with your company, you must make a good first impression. Typically, that means having a graphic artist design your card and having well-written copy specifically for the postcard. Simply putting clip art on a card and using text pulled from your Web site isn’t sufficient. Give serious consideration to producing your postcard in color, at least on one side. Use high-quality paper, not card stock purchased at the local office supply store. This will mean using a professional printer, but that doesn’t mean that your cost will skyrocket. There are many ways to reduce costs, if you take the time to explore them. Professional printers also have the capability to produce your card in larger sizes, and even in special shapes. Remember that the goal is to capture the attention of your potential customer.

Regarding your text, you must always include a “call to action” and give the respondents a specific reason to contact you. “Call for a tour,” “Mention this card for a 10% discount,” “Free food!” – you get the idea.

It’s critical that your direct mail message matches the other messaging that your company has in place. If you’re referring people to your Web site, then what you say on your card must match what you say on your site. For example, if your card is referring to a specific product, then that product absolutely must be found on your Web site!

It also must match the “look and feel” of your other marketing collateral, including your Web site. Consistency = professional. If your collateral is inconsistent, the implied message is that your company – and its products and services – may be inconsistent, too. Using the same images, fonts, tag lines, and so forth can easily accomplish a consistent look.

Sending out just one card is a waste of time – and money. Most experts agree that in order to be effective, you should send out your direct mail at least six times. And, while sending the same card six times may be most cost effective for you, it’s annoying for the recipient. That means developing several different cards, letters or a combination. We also recommend sending these materials out every three to four weeks. That’s not a hard and fast rule, and is dependent on what you’re sending, but if you send items more frequently, you run the risk of appearing desperate.

Finally, the absolute most important part of your direct mail campaign is your distribution list. For some, an existing client database is a good target audience. For others, they will need to purchase the names to send to. Sending to “recipient” or “occupant” is cheap, cheap, cheap. Determine exactly who you want your card sent to, then work with a company that specializes in providing addresses. You’ll be amazed at how specific you can get – and it’s not all that expensive. Isn’t it more important to send to exactly who might purchase your product or service, rather than to waste your money sending to hundreds or thousands of people or businesses that aren’t your target market?

It’s a fairly simple process to determine how many contacts you should send your campaign out to. For example, if you want 300 new clients (or good prospects), you should send to 6,000 names (Five percent of 6,000 = 300). It’s important to note that your goal should be realistic. While it might be nice to get 500 new clients, rather than 300, are you capable of providing your product or service to 500? When determining your response rate, don’t forget to include the costs of the campaign that you need to recoup.

When done correctly and strategically, direct mail can be an extremely effective method of marketing your company’s products and services.