The green light for marketing

In July of this year, the Dental Council of Ireland updated its Code of Conduct in relation to public relations. I hope that you received your copy. If you didn’t, you can download it from the website.

In essence, there are three key changes from the previous code:
1. The publication of a practice brochure is now encouraged. It suggests that these could include details of treatments, staff members, fees and, of course, all relevant contact information
2. In relation to price lists, private fees should be displayed prominently in the dental practice and can be included in brochures. Whilst it is understood that not all treatment fees can be known in advance, an indication of at least routine treatments should be provided
3. Websites are now permitted for providing information for the public. They can contain any or all of the information available in the practice brochure. Links to other websites should be relevant and factually correct.

I believe that these changes will offer dentists in Ireland huge opportunities, and it could be argued that they are long overdue. You are probably not surprised that I am all in favour of them – to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, ‘Well I would, wouldn’t I?’! True. But I have good reason to, and think it can be of great benefit to you all.

For instance, a professionally produced brochure can make a huge difference to the types and amount of treatments that you can carry out. A little time and effort spent on content, design and print will pay dividends in the long run. It will:
• Educate patients on new treatments
• Promote elective treatments such as whitening and cosmetic work
• Speak volumes about the professional service that you offer – this is why it is vital to spend on the design and print.

If you wish, you can even transform a brochure into a ‘Welcome Pack’, which can offer more room to expand on treatment details and really promote the treatments you wish to do more of. This will also make new patients feel more valued.

You may ask, ‘Why does my practice need a website?’ I think that the following statistics will convince you. In September 2008, the following keywords were searched for via
• ‘Dentist’ – 27,100 searches
• ‘Dentist in [i.e. followed by geographic location]’ – 2,400 searches
• ‘Dentists’ – 8,100 searches
• ‘Cosmetic dentist’ – 1,000 searches
• ‘Smile dentist’ – 140 searches
• ‘Dentist braces’ – 91 searches
• ‘Dentist implants’ – 46 searches.

This is why you need a website! Anyone under the age of 35 will now search online for a new service provider, not in the Golden Pages or equivalent.

Make sure that any company that you employ to design your website has knowledge of the dental field so that you are not left to write all the text! It is also key that once the website is launched, equal weight is placed on search engine optimisation and Google AdWords (more on this in a future column). It is no good having a new, stunning website if no-one can find it.

In short, I think that these changes to the Code of Conduct should be embraced, and they can allow you to increase practice profitability and provide more of the type of dentistry that you wish to do.

If you would like to discuss any issues raised in this column or have any suggestions for a future topic, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected].

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