What Do You Look For In A Dental Marketing Company?
Is Bigger Better? Often Not….
When you look for a product or service, are you the type of person who looks for an ‘all-in’ package or do you prefer something bespoke? Does a pre-prepared meal deal with starter, main course, sweet and free bottle of wine float your boat because it’s easy, or do you prefer to rustle up something a bit special to really impress? Different people have different requirements and expectations and it’s no different in the busy world of dentistry. Some dentists will choose “all-in” dental marketing packages whereas others are a little more discerning and prefer to work with bespoke services and a selection of suppliers for different needs.
But what works best? Are the all-in suppliers where you pay a big monthly fee, they outsource and sometimes don’t lift a finger actually getting the job done; or do you have to have some involvement to get the real results you need?
Today we’ll take a look at the different types of services available, how marketing companies pitch those services, and what you might expect depending on who you chose to work with. Unfortunately there has always been a tendency for suppliers to overcharge the dental community and it’s no different in the world of marketing; indeed there are far too many cases where dentists have bought into the story or hype surrounding a particular supplier only to end up disappointed soon afterwards.
How marketing companies approach dentists
The email spammers – it’s not just the small players who buy an email list and then spam your inbox incessantly with offers, the bigger players who have been around for years do it too. The spam emails often consist of offers which sound great but are too good to be true, for example 50% off a dental website and three free months of marketing for what appears to be an attractively low fee. However, experience suggests that what is actually happening here is a loss-lead with the objective of hooking the dentist into a long-term, onerously expensive contract. Over the years we’ve helped lots of dentists recover from suspect offers like this, so please watch out and don’t fall for them.
The self-promoters – these are the guys who claim to have the inside track on how Google works, SEO gurus, ninjas etc – you’ve probably seen their pitches and maybe been taken in? The fact is that very few dental marketing companies have a solid grounding in search engine optimisation and often work several years behind best practice. SEO is not rocket-science but it does take a lot of hard work and patience, so if you see claims of quick-fix results and stellar rankings, please be sure to validate with someone who actually knows.
The “Show” attenders – this is a good way to get your company in front of lots of dentists very quickly if you’re willing and wish to spend £10k to achieve it. Companies pitch up with fancy stands and offering all types of services at discounted prices, but please be cautious. Whilst some of these companies are bona fide, others are very new and try to give the impression that they’ve been in the business for years. As I write, I can think of at least three dental marketing companies which made big splashes at the main dental shows, gained clients quickly, let them down and then went out of business. We’ve recently helped several dentists recover after they fell foul of this.
The coaches friend – there are a few dental coaches in the UK who actively promote the services of one or two suppliers above anyone else, even where the services of those suppliers are demonstrably quite poor or at best poor value for money. If you use a dental coach, please be cautious and don’t just go for who they recommend – you could end up falling out with your coach as well as their recommended marketing supplier! We know this from several clients who moved to us after they fell into this particular trap.
The flatterers – these are the guys who actively seek out those who they consider to be the leading lights of dentistry. One of our clients ‘phoned recently to say he’d been invited to an exclusive event in London put on by such a supplier but he’d declined on the basis that he didn’t believe it was what the profession was all about. Indeed he and his colleagues suggested that the event had been a signifcant “own goal”. This type of thing might suit those who are keen to self-promote, but I’d suggest it doesn’t really represent mainstream dentistry or the vast number of clinicians who occupy that space. So if you get approached by a marketer who invites you to an “exclusive” event, be sure that they are just after your business or it’s being done on the back of a reciprocal Google review!
The “specialists” – these are the guys who claim to have specific knowledge about a niche of dental marketing which usually involves “lucrative” treatments – e.g. Invisalign or Implants. By making these claims they are trying to immediately differentiate themselves from the mainstream marketers. But is there any “secret sauce” as they claim? The answer of course, is no. One Invisalign marketer is claiming a unique marketing workflow which is custom developed by him; however when you look closely he’s simply using paid ads for leads, a landing page, online booking, a “free” smile assessment using SmileMate and video consultation. He charges thousands of pounds per month for the privilege of the “secret sauce” but you don’t have to! Frankly there are no secrets and many long-established marketers have been using similar techniques very successfully for years.
Word-of-mouth-recommendation – this is still the best way to gain insights into a company but it’s still fraught with difficulties. For example, there are a couple of large dental marketing companies who are arguably living on the reputation they gained a number of years ago when they led the field. However, if you do your research, you will see that both of those companies have lost significantly more clients than they’ve gained over the last two or three years. You can see this easily enough by checking who used to manage their clients’ websites and marketing versus who’s actually doing it now.
Other companies push their clients very hard to leave glowing Google reviews, often incentivising to get them. But if you look closely through the reviews and track through to the clients who left them, very often you’ll find that client has moved on to pastures new. First impressions are important, but please take the time to look deeper.
“Full service” marketing – will the cookie-cutter approach work for you?
The types of companies we’ve mentioned above often make bold claims about their “full service” approach and how it’s all “done for you”. Sounds attractive right, but does it work? Unfortunately the answer is usually “no” because you simply can’t achieve what you need with the cookie-cutter approaches they use. Whether it’s a website built on a pre-purchased $50 WordPress template, or PPC marketing outsourced to a third-party, what gets delivered in the package you purchased is often sub-standard; although you likely paid hundreds of pounds a month for the privilege. And there’s the real rub – not only are you getting some pretty average marketing, you’re also paying well over the odds for it. Not a great scenario for anyone other than the supplier!
If you take a look at the teams of the larger dental marketing companies, there is only one where the number of team members could get anywhere close to supporting the number of clients they claim to have. So the marketing is either being partially or wholly outsourced or not done at all – the latter is prevalent unfortunately. Indeed we know that the web design projects for all but a couple of the main UK dental marketing agencies are being outsourced.
What’s the alternative?
What I’m hopefully illustrating is that there are several UK dental marketers who claim to offer “full-service” marketing, but in reality they are either outsourcing, failing to do it expertly, or both. There are lots of tricks in play to hook unsuspecting dentists into these kinds of realtionships, so caution is needed to avoid disappointment.
Fortunately there are alternatives, for example, there are a couple of long-established teams which do offer proven services, which aren’t “bolt-on” and are truly bespoke. Additionally there are smaller companies who have strong track-records in specific niches of the dental marketing business. In today’s hyper-competitive world, you need that little bit extra to really differentiate your practice from the one just down the road. All dentists are qualified and registered, so what will make the new patient choose you instead of the next guy? You really do need to have something unique, even if it is just in the way you present your services.
Larger dental marketing agencies often fall short as they try to maximise returns by scaling up generic, cookie-cutter services. So please do your homework and don’t get sucked in by the spam emails, self-promoters or the manufactured reviews we highlighted earlier.
Elsewhere in this blog you’ll find comprehensive guidance on what to look for when choosing your dental marketing partner, or if you’d prefer to chat, please give the team here at Dental Media a call on 01332 672548. Above all, be sure to check what you’re buying into before signing on the line!