Dental Marketing Expert – Says Who?

Avoiding the self-proclaimed SEO ninjas and marketing experts.

Perhaps it’s the ill-conceived thought of “rich dentists” that continues to lure new companies into the dental marketing space?

Certainly the influx of new start-ups in the sector continues apace and all of them claiming to be an “expert” in lots of areas, or at least so it seems. But behind the flashy veneer, all is not what it might appear to be and the risk of being duped is very high as we’ll see later.

As dentists, you know better than to call yourself experts or claim to be “better” than your peer group; but this doesn’t appear to be the case in the community which offers you marketing services. Indeed one marketer we know had the honesty to write about how he “faked it to make it” several years ago when he first started out.

But if we’re being honest, would you like to be in the hands of someone who professed to be an expert but was simply putting on a show, or working with a team of acknowledged professionals with a long and successful track record? The answer is pretty easy isn’t it, but how do you differentiate if you are not familiar with the subject? That’s less easy unless you really know where to look and who to ask.

I’m prompted to write this as we take over yet another dental website from suppliers who “faked it to make it” – but didn’t and went bust. In their wake they left lots of poor dentists who forked out thousands for websites and huge monthly fees for little or no return. In fact I’m just off the ‘phone to one poor practice principle who is on his third design agency in the space of five years! The first is a long-standing “big” name with a reputation for high fees (but also poor delivery) – they took hundreds of pounds from him each month, but still he couldn’t get them to complete the work they promised. All they wanted to do it seems, is to up-sell him to their next expensive package. Sound familiar?

The second company he fell foul of attended lots of dental shows and snared new clients with the promise of the moon on a stick and so many new patients he’d need a bigger practice. This hard-sell approach appeared to work for the marketing company for a couple of years, but then clients started to see through their glossy website promises and lack of performance, and started leaving in droves. The company subsequently sold off some of their clients to other marketing agencies whilst leaving many of their smaller clients in the lurch. What’s worse is that the websites they’d provided were built with a niche development tool that very few people use, making then unsupportable and in need of full redevelopment. The poor guy I mentioned above has ended up paying for three new websites in five years, but at least this time we’ll be there to support him over the long term.

How do you spot the cowboy dental marketers?

My first advice would always be to be cautious if anyone is referring to themselves as an “expert” unless they have a long track record and references to back this up. So dig deep and ask for those references. Worse still are the folk out there who call themselves “gurus”, “ninjas”, “thought leaders” and claim that they have the “secret sauce” to unlock Google. You’ve probably encountered them at some point? Perhaps blathering on at a dental show or maybe recommended with glowing reviews from a misinformed business coach?

Next you need to avoid the guys who spam your inbox relentlessly with “50% off websites this month only” etc etc. You probably already get this type of dross email in your inbox? The bottom line is that if they are really as good as they claim, do they really need to spam out emails constantly just looking for anyone to bite? No they don’t. So hit that unsubscribe button!

What about the teams that you’ve never heard of before who turn up to dental shows with a glossy stand, display screens and shiny literature? Be careful! Many of the companies who attend the shows are either trying to get new clients to make up for the ugly churn in their client base or are “faking it to make it”. Be careful and certainly don’t sign anything until you’ve done your homework.

Identifying the good guys and working with them

So now we’ve uncovered some of the dodgy deals you need to look out for, how do you go about spotting the good guys and start working with them? Here are a few things you need to check:

  • has the agency/freelancer got a long, established track record? Not just any other marketing company who decided “dental” was an easy target.
  • are references and examples available to back up their claims
  • are they cost effective and totally transparent with the results they provide (this area is a particular minefield full of obfuscation and smoke-screens)
  • will they allow you to own and control all of the properties and assets they create for you (websites, analytics accounts, Google My Business pages, Facebook etc)
  • are all of your marketing assets completely portable should you need to move on in future?
  • are they completely accessible and available to discuss and agree your business and marketing objectives?
  • are they asking you to tie-in to a contract? Don’t!
  • make sure they are not “faking it to make it”!

Summary

I’ve talked before about the dental marketing minefield and the proliferation of new companies who tout for business and then often fail spectacularly, costing the dentists they lured in thousands of pounds along the way. Sadly this isn’t just the new guys who are trying to penetrate the dental sector; a number of the incumbent agencies are also pretty dire and living on fat. So you really do need to take care before signing up to anything and step through the recommendations above to give yourself the best chance of success.

Here at Dental Media we have provided marketing services for dentists for over 20 years across all channels, digital and traditional; indeed we are the UK’s longest established specialist dental provider. We work with hundreds of dentists UK-wide and will be pleased to provide references and examples of our work . Please call us on 01332 672548 to discuss your marketing requirements and we’ll be pleased to offer clear, no-obligation advice.