Is your marketing working?

In the last few articles we have concentrated on ways that you can ethically market to both existing and potential patients of your practice. So, let us assume that you have undertaken some of these – perhaps a practice newsletter and a new website? It’s now six months later – how are they doing?

You would not be alone among dentists, or any other business for that matter, if you had no idea! It is very common to be excited at the prospect of marketing, to put a lot of time and effort into the production of said material and then to move on, not stopping to think how you will know if it is successful.

If you are spending any money on marketing it is absolutely vital that you measure the response that you get from it. Otherwise, even if it is working you won’t know. I would find it unlikely that as a dentist you would invest £10,000 on a piece of equipment and then not be sure whether it works! So why do it with your practice marketing?

It is actually quite straightforward to measure response from marketing, but it does need a system put in place and a methodical approach. We need to split response into two groups – new patients and existing patients.

New patients
On the face of it this would appear to be relatively simple. All of the team (not just the receptionist) need to be trained in asking, ‘How did you find out about us?’ However, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds – people lie! They don’t do this to deliberately mislead but rather to give you the answer that they think you want to hear. I would recommend something along the lines of the following series of questions as a good starting point on the initial phone call:
1. May I ask how you heard about the practice Mr/Mrs/Ms ____? (If they answer newspaper/ website/ recommendation/Golden Pages, then great, but if not…)
2. What prompted you to call us?
3. And did you use the phone book?
4.  Do you read __________?
[If you have featured in a newspaper recently]
5. Have you been searching on the web?

As you can see, it is a case of trying to eke out the information and remind them where they may have seen you. If you enter into a dialogue with patients then you are much more likely to get further information. Once they actually visit the practice, I would recommend that a series of tick boxes are included on your patient questionnaire so they can tick the relevant one.

Existing patients
This can be a trickier one to measure. Their attendance at the practice does not mean they have responded to any marketing that you have carried out. If, for instance, you have produced a practice newsletter with a special offer, you need to include a unique code for the offer and then make a note of how many people respond.

Practice newsletters are also useful for more general education and the entire team must be alert when a patient requests a new treatment that has been featured in the newsletter or perhaps  asks, ‘Tell me more about…?’.

Collating information
Once you have implemented  this process it is absolutely vital that all of the information is recorded and compiled on a weekly basis. An easy way of doing it would be in an Excel spreadsheet – very quickly you will build up a picture of what is and is not working.

Then you can make future decisions based on facts, not guesses! This data can often make you face difficult choices.

For instance, your website may be delivering plenty of emails or phone calls but they don’t turn into new patients. You may have to review pricing, how the phone is answered and how treatment plans are presented. Alternatively, it maybe delivering nothing – meaning that you would need to review the  design, content and search engine optimisation of the site.

Perhaps your practice newsletter is encouraging patients to request treatments or ask for more information but these are not converting to work carried out. Again, you will need to study your internal systems to see why this is not happening.

A final note
I hope that I have given you some food for thought. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected] if you have any queries or want to see a particular subject covered in a future issue.

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