A look into how the dental industry is using the web
Dr. Jeffrey Patrician, dressed in all white scrubs, sits in a big eat-you-up-kind-of-leather chair in the lobby of his new Boulder, Colorado dental office – Boulder Dental Arts. He’s cordially agreed to have me interview him about his marketing strategies, something that I am quite curious about since his is one of the fastest growing dental practices in this town. Not only that, but I’ve actually heard of this guy (who hears about a dentist??). Heard he is the best. Heard that I should definitely go have a check up because he somehow makes going to the dentist fun. And I’ve noticed my roommate has basically taken up a part-time job with his practice. She’s referred so many new clients to his firm, that she has a small stack of $10 iTunes gift cards on our coffee table – one for each person she sent Dr. Patrician’s way.
I tell Dr. Patrician I want to write an article about modern dental marketing strategies.
His first response: “My overall strategy is to just throw a bunch of dental marketing against the wall and see what sticks.” This guy is quirky.
Five minutes into the interview he offers me a beer. I graciously accept a can of craft microbrew pale ale, and then immediately wonder if this is a test to see if I’ll brush my teeth afterwards.
“What kind of stuff have you thrown against the wall?” I ask. In my mind, it can’t be much. Wrong.
Boulder Dental Arts has canvased nearby neighborhoods with informational postcards, launched a clean modern website, developed a Facebook, Yelp, FourSquare, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts, they sponsor a local cycling team, have magazine ads, have paid for improved SEO, and are looking for the perfect foam tooth costume to have someone wear on the street corner. Each new patient leaves the office with a party favor of sorts – a nice “Boulder Dental Arts” inscribed water bottle stuffed with goodies: travel toothpaste, vegan chap stick, floss, a carabineer (this town is full of rock climbers) and a card that encourages online reviews. Oh, and did I mention they are gluten-free?
“There’s no real science,” Dr. Patrician says.
Yet, their throw-and-see-what-sticks strategy has landed their tiny dental practice (they just hired their fourth employee the day of this interview) at the top of peoples’ minds in this local community. They even hosted a party in their office with beer, food and networking. An offline feat.
Online, they’re making moves too. In less that six months the Boulder Dental Arts website moved from Google’s 9th page of search results to page 2 for “Boulder dentist”. Also garnering local media attention, through their somewhat outlandish gluten-free position.
Marketing Is Only a Part of the Equation
But when it’s all said and done, no matter how much innovative marketing you do, the main thing in dentistry is making a happy client, Dr. Patrician says. Good, positive interactions with patients; awesome service and a complete overall positive experience is what makes or breaks you, he says.
Just then, a patient who just had three teeth removed walks into the lobby ready to check out. She’s smiling, and through a mouth-full of anesthetic tells the front desk gal, “It didn’t hurt!” She’s outwardly shocked and impressed, and I can see that Dr. Patrician, while quirky, is an excellent dentist.
Online marketing doesn’t make your customers love you, he says.
But does it help?
Dr. Patrician’s website, which literally comes up as “Boulder’s Awesomest Dentist” is full of personality. It’s funny, quirky, flavorful and definitely not what you’d expect from a dentist website – much like Dr. Patrician’s personality.
You get a sense of the in-person atmosphere of the Boulder Dental Arts office through the personality of his online communications. And that’s the way it should be.
How Consumers Understand Your Brand Online
As customers shop online for service providers from dentists to lawn care maintenance crews, what they are looking for is to connect with someone that they are going to like and trust. If you can present your brand personality online with enough authenticity, you’ll attract the right kinds of customers that will like and trust you.
A strong brand personality that lives off the web is a key step to having a solid, uniform and effective online strategy. If your company is focused on being professional and polished – your website, eNewletters and Facebook page should reflect that. Maybe you choose solid colors, simple navigation and common templates. If, on the other hand, you are a forward thinking, progressive practice – maybe your site, social media outreach and campaigns should be dynamically built, with multi-media presentation, edgy color palettes and more risky photography. The more authentic, the better.
And Dr. Patrician says it best, “No clip art. Absolutely zero clip art.”
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Posted by Jean Spencer
Jean is an an entrepreneur, digital marketing strategist & writer. She intermittently find herself in handstands across the world. The rest of her day is spent upright.