Mike Shoun, CEO
Affordable Image
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Marketing Without Breaking the Bank
By Mike Shoun, CEO

I love the different questions that doctors pose to me – especially ones that make me put my thinking fingers to my forehead. The latest addition to the long line of random questions that come my way was from a doctor in Ohio asking how he could stand out from the competition that was surrounding him without breaking the bank.

Just imagine my face, trying to share something with a doctor who is aware he needs to market but doesn’t really want to put any money into it. My face probably told a couple of stories. One I’m sure was humor, coming from the impromptu of the question. How do I answer this, when I know that the best way to stand out is with a combined effort?

I started with a reminder to this doctor that he is in the service business first. With that, how could he outdo the competition with his service? He told me he was the highest in his class, had the best technology, etc. I responded with: “Yeah, but dentistry is what all dentists do, and most patients have no clue about what any of that means.” I needed to know what he could do to outshine the others.

Without taking up time and hearing how he was the best and everyone should know it, I gave him my advice on what I felt would help him get patients in the door and keep them there. The dental industry is a service industry, and to retain the patient base I suggested that he think like a patient. Walk through his office procedures and see if he would want to visit his office. 

It had never occurred to him to “think” like a patient. I told him it would make a difference if he could figure out what he would like and then offer that to others. To go one step further, I said he should ask a few patients what they thought and see if their ideas were feasible.  

I offered him a few of the ideas I have shared with others in the past that seem to work well. Going to a dentist causes many to become anxious – why not put soothing music in the waiting area? Calming aromatherapy also helps. Mood lighting to relax the patient. You might put a massage chair or two in the waiting area to ease the patient. Headphones with music of their choice. 

I once worked with a doctor who was located in an area mainly serving the downtown business community. I suggested that she set up small private cubicles for patients who can’t or won’t stop working to come to see her. This arrangement made a huge difference in her chair appointments. Knowing they had a mini office, like in a hotel, allowed her patients to feel like they were not out of contact and had a place to work on their laptops or use a private area for calls without disturbing everyone in the waiting room. Now her patients didn’t necessarily need this area, but they thought they did. This allowed her to market to them in a way that others couldn’t and allowed her to stand out in the crowd. 

I had another client tell me that the senior community surrounding his practice should be a goldmine, but for some reason these patients had the highest rates of cancellations and reschedules. It seemed that they often had trouble getting to their appointments because they didn’t drive. I suggested looking into a rideshare program – contacting retirement facilities and making a deal to use and pay for their bus to get patients to the practice on certain days, or finding other car services to work with. Market the message to senior patients that you have their interests at heart. Find the problem and have a solution for it.

One last topic would be Door-to-Door assistance. Some patients need help from their car door to your office door. Moms with kids, seniors needing assistance and the physically challenged are a few who could benefit from the kindness of your staff making this gesture and showing you are there to help with all their needs.

Necessity is the mother of all invention. Making patients feel wanted and comfortable isn’t that hard, it just involves thinking outside of the box. Providing a few extra perks can go a long way in helping you stand out from the crowd without breaking the bank.

Mike Shoun is the President and Owner of Affordable Image Dental Marketing Solutions - a full service marketing company dedicated to the client's overall success. 

Mike can be reached at (602) 265-2299 ext. 211, or email mike@affordableimage.com

Visit www.affordableimage.com for more information

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