Marketing Today (vs. Tomorrow) article by Deborah Druey, MBA

-published in the Winter 2010 edition of the Georgia Academy of General Dentistry Explorer   (

Deborah Druey, MBA Symphony Dental Marketing TipsJay Abraham, author of “Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition” tells us there are 3 ways to grow your business:

1. Get more new clients

2. Get more business from your existing clients

3. Get more new clients through referrals from your existing clients

In marketing, these three principles guide me daily as to “what do I do today?” Based on each category, these are initiatives I would launch in a dental practice today if they do not already exist:

1. Get more new clients. The question of “how can I get more new patients?” can be daunting, because we immediately break into a sweat over the costs of advertising. To make sure you get the most “bang for the buck” from your ads, first do a little work on your own infrastructure:

  • Review new patient tracking reports and determine where most new patients currently come from to enhance what is working and create spin-off strategies. If this report does not exist in your practice, this is what today should be all about – creating a consistent method of tracking all incoming new patients.
  • Mind the phone. Many folks know this is a big topic for me. Review how phone “conversations” with new patients are being handled. Arrive at a script that is based on a warm, friendly call that has a positive, welcoming energy.
  • Consider a complimentary consultation for patients with complex issues that do not “fit the mold” of a complete exam, x-rays, cleaning, etc. These are opportunities that we might miss if we are not flexible in our approach.

2. Get more business from current clients.

Has your schedule slowed down? Here’s the lemonade from lemons approach – each day, take some of this extra time and spend it with your patients and your team:

  •  Have an extended daily huddle, in which you and your team talk about who is in the schedule today and their specific needs. The goal is to arrive at an approach to help these patients understand and accept necessary treatment.
  • Photography. By far, this is the most effective universal tool for case presentation, team communication, and patient understanding. Take some time now to perfect your photos to expand patient dialogue and explore solutions for dental problems.

3. Get more new clients through referrals.   Asking for referrals does not just mean you have to venture out of your comfort zone to directly approach a patient, i.e., “we would love to have more patients like you, do you have family or friends that might be in need of our services?” (Although I would encourage you to try to do some of this.)

A few systems can go a long way in creating referrals:

  • If you have a healthy referral base, it’s time to start asking for testimonials for your website, send email newsletters with “send to a friend” links and thank you notes or gifts to encourage repeat referrals.
  • Along with a great phone experience, improve all points of patient contact.
  • Think of yourself in a social setting – this patient is in your “home;” you want them to choose your office as their permanent “dental home” and motivate them to tell others about you.
  • A new patient interview, in which you initially meet with a new patient one-on-one outside of the operatory to talk about their smile goals and build personal rapport, is very powerful.
  • Be sensitive to privacy issues when discussing finances with patients. (Mishandling this conversation is the fastest way to lose a patient.)
  • A personally guided new patient office tour is a very nice touch that any dental team member can handle.  In the tour, be sure to highlight conveniences or unique practice features, such as internet access, restrooms, toothbrushes, a pristine sterilization area, high tech equipment, etc.

In any business, sales must be driven – as you plan, ask for volunteers within your team or assign a person to handle the details of a specific activity and be  responsible for reporting back on progress and outcomes. Through empowerment, your team will become more involved and will become your “Board of Directors” when it comes to making marketing decisions.

Abraham, J. (2000). Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition. New York: Truman Talley Books – St. Martin’s Griffin

Recent GA Academy of General Dentistry Article

 Social Media Marketing – Can “Widgets” and “Pokes” really help your Practice Grow?

 As we blast into a new era of marketing, it seems that the bar has been raised. Our prospects are looking for a new symbol of “coolness” – nearly all marketing media, including print advertising, television and radio ads, direct mail and web sites now require one additional feature in the copy, as important as the business phone number itself: the invitation to “Find” of “Follow” a business on your favorite social networking site. My recommendation? Jump in! Here’s why:

 The “New” New Patient

In recent years, consumerism has moved toward the internet, not merely in “droves” but in a virtual stampede. We live in a culture of warp-speed decision making; for any major purchase, we can read consumer reviews, look at photos and price compare online in a matter of seconds. Our future patients do the same – with flying fingertips and no time for fluff, they “power seek” the closest, most affordable, painless, friendly, insurance-accepting, modern DENTIST that best fits their needs.


Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, wrote “A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising”. 1 In dentistry, we know from experience that a referral is a desirable outcome of any marketing effort (and not always as easy as it sounds to achieve). Referrals through recommendation are a mere mouse-click away in the closely-knit social media community. And, the best part – it’s free! (for now).

 The Lingo

Facebook “Friends”: At the heart of referral marketing is connecting the dots – having your patients, friends and colleagues tell others about you.

…Introduce the Facebook “Friends” concept – people you know (or even people you don’t know) can become your “Friend” – you can read about each other, tell everyone what you are doing RIGHT NOW and the best part, in the spirit of “sharing”, your friends’ friends will be introduced to your wonderful, caring dental team.

 YouTube Videos

Share videos about you, your team and your facility and get “up close and personal” in the comfort of your next new patient’s cubicle. “I feel like I already know you!” (“…before I meet you”) paves the way for a more relaxed first appointment for both you and your patient.

Back to the Future

Greg Welch, Owner & Creative Director of Athens-based CVP Marketing Group, teaches local businesses how to capitalize on network marketing using social media. He believes social media has restored the value of consumer relationships: 

“We all understand that good business is about relationships. Traditional marketing moved us away from that into a realm of “bigger is better”. Social media marketing takes us back to the things we have known are important all along: Building relationships with our customers and connecting with them on a personal level, finding common ground that we all relate to – like the tooth fairy.”

 The Launch

As far as the “How-To” , there is the “Do it Yourself” approach that will take some staff time, or, services such as CVP Marketing are available to set up social media accounts and feed them on a regular basis with dental health tips, photos, fun facts and entertaining quips. This folksy style of marketing is non-intimidating and will help keep your practice image light and friendly. And, search engines will index your business organization page; this will help drive traffic to your web site and boost your page ranking.

 So, join the “cool” crowd – wear your “Badge” proudly on your web site and get your raving fans to “Like” you! 

According to The Nielsen Company Consumer Confidence Survey2, First Quarter 2010
  • U.S. consumers spent an average of 6 hours, 13 minutes a month using social networking websites.
  • 55% of U.S. adults online have 1 or more social networking profiles.
  • Facebook is the #1 social networking site in the U.S., with a unique audience of 125.2 million visitors.
  • 75% of U.S. households that are active on the internet visit a social networking site.


1 The Facebook Effect, The Inside Story of a Company That is Connecting the World, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2010.

2 The Nielsen Company, Q1 2010 Consumer Confidence Survey,


my grand-nephew Kyle

my grand-nephew Kyle

I am writing this post just following a series of secret shopper calls to Atlanta area dental practices.  My mission was simply to gauge the responses to “How much do you charge for a crown?”

I can summarize the results very easily – they were all the same.  Out of 10 offices called, not a single practice asked me my name.  No one asked me how I heard about them, and NOT ONE ASKED ME TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT.

Fee answers were typical, some seemed stressed by the question,  a few gave a range, some gave the fee directly.  Some included what they won’t do in the insurance discussion and one that only does all-porcelain crowns quoted a gingivectomy fee (not sure the average caller knows what that is).

As a rule I don’t give fees over the phone, but I can live with it as long as there is a genuine effort made to build rapport and the patient is ASKED to come to the office.  EVEN IF IT IS A FREE CONSULTATION.

I want to encourage you to “begin at the beginning” as you ramp up your efforts to increase new patient growth.  Make sure your message is always warm and inviting before you get down to the brass tacks of a business discussion.  This is a fundamental rule of marketing that can never be overlooked. 

In our new marketing environment,  I would much rather waste my time on a free consultation than give fee discounts or spend thousands on direct mail campaigns.  Remember, every time you meet someone, the odds of meeting  family, friends and co-workers are dramatically increased.   A great referral always begins with a great experience.   and…

A ringing phone is an opportunity.

In Pursuit of Harmony

Debbie Druey