By Angela Weber

Developing a successful marketing plan is a balancing act between building brand awareness and driving direct response.  Dr. Burris recently asked me what was so unique about what the OrthoSynetics’ marketing department does and why did it result in such astonishing results for his practice.  I rarely get asked for details about what we do and how and I love to brag on our awesome marketing team so I’m excited to discuss both. In short, we get fantastic results for clients who allow us to do our thing because our marketing team uses a dialed in process that balances the right mix of awareness, targeting and direct response. 

Naturally, we’re all familiar with consumer brands, but to put a basic definition on the concept of branding, let’s say that it is letting everyone know you exist and what you stand for. It entails how your practice is different than others, the “personality” of your practice, and what your practice represents to your patients. Meanwhile, direct response is about capturing that interest and turning it into action. The ultimate action you want them to take is to sign up for treatment. If you don’t successfully capture the prospects that your marketing attracts and convert them into new patients, you’re basically wasting your marketing dollars.

Doctors often ask me “What’s the one thing that works the best?”  And my answer is often not the one they want to hear.  There is not a magic bullet for success and it’s not an overnight process. It takes consistency, effort, targeting and monitoring.  Tracking marketing efforts can be tedious for some, but it’s critical to a successful campaign. Again the goal is to convert leads into sales and to do this effectively, you must know what is working and what is not. Tracking is the only way to do this and the only way to know which marketing campaigns to continue pursuing and which to abandon. Basically you have theories about what will work, you try them, you monitor them, you keep doing what is working and you stop doing what is not. Repeat the process as necessary. It’s simple but not easy.

At least with digital marketing initiatives you can get real time data as to your results. Arkansas Dentistry and Braces can point to excellent results from their initiatives. An online campaign for a new office generated 190 online consult requests in the 60 days leading up to the office opening. The web site gets 30,000 hits a month. These are big numbers in a little state like Arkansas!

But let’s put this last bit in perspective. Getting the top organic Google results for key search terms is great, but a number-one Google ranking doesn’t guarantee that prospective patients will book appointments. It’s just a piece of the puzzle. Good marketing also has to drive patient behavior. I find many practices invest too much in efforts that have a nominal return. One way to protect yourself against focusing on efforts with little return is to ask yourself what you want potential patients to do as a result of your marketing initiative. Also, ask yourself what results you would need to be able to deem the investment of time and money worthwhile. The only way you can decide if an effort is successful or not is to know what you hope to have happen as a result and track your results.

When determining a marketing strategy for your practice, your initiatives need to take into account your geographic area, practice philosophy, practice structure, competitors, community accessibility, and other factors. Once you understand where you are and who is around you, know who you want to be and know what you would like potential patients to do as a result of your efforts, it is necessary to develop a strong brand and marketing initiatives that drive patient behavior. Take on your marketing with a sense of purpose as well as one of controlled experimentation. You’ll land on the mix that works for your practice. There is no magic bullet!

Angela Weber, Chief Marketing Officer, OrthoSynetics