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Marketing snapshot: How one practice does it

Somerset, Ky. — It took less than a minute for Dr. Ricky Farmer to post a “selfie” with a smiling child he treated at a free community health clinic this summer on his practice’s Facebook page.

Within a few hours, the photo generated more than 250 “likes” and several comments from patients who wrote and posted positive testimonials on Dr. Farmer’s work.

Dr. Farmer

Dr. Farmer

“I had nearly 400 views of that post within a few hours of posting and it was free,” said Dr. Farmer, who has been practicing for 11 years. “It was a wonderful ‘ad’ if you will.”

Today, Dr. Farmer’s Facebook page for his practice Lake Point Dental Care is part of his overall marketing strategy as he moves to relying more on online and social media efforts to effectively promote his practice.

“Online marketing takes up probably 80 percent of my marketing strategy, and 20 percent everything else,” Dr. Farmer said. “That’s completely flip-flopped from when I started out about 10 years ago.”

After graduating from dental school, Dr. Farmer was 25 years old when he opened his practice in the small Kentucky town where he grew up. To get the word out that he was open to see patients seeking dental care, he had one strategy: mass marketing. He sponsored Little League teams, bought recurrent ads in the regional newspaper and magazines, sent out direct mailers, shot local TV ads, recorded a few radio spots, networked with other local businesses and launched a no-frills, one-page website.

“I pretty much tried everything but billboards,” he said.

Dr. Farmer said each mode of marketing had its success though his practice didn’t do detailed return on investment tracking in the initial stages of practice growth.

“In hindsight, that was perhaps not the wisest business decision,” he said. “But at that point we were just focused on mass marketing across the board.”

As time went by, his dental team began to loosely track how patients found him and started pulling out of certain marketing modes based on effectiveness and the strategy’s relevance. For example, he pulled out of the Yellow Pages and other publications saturated with ads from other dental offices.

“What we found was that online was where it’s at when it comes to advertising, where it was the phone book a decade, two decades ago,” he said.

It wasn’t until 3-4 years in to his practice that Dr. Farmer shifted his focus to online marketing. He hired PBHS, a website and marketing services provider, to handle and direct all of his online marketing outlets, including his website and social media accounts. PBHS, the online marketing and branding company endorsed by ADA Business Resources, can track how often people visit his website and social media accounts. However, return on investment tracking remains his practice’s responsibility during his new patient registration process.

“Our marketing efforts are always evolving because our community, culture, society and our patient base are always evolving,” Dr. Farmer said. “Our mobile devices allow for instant access to information and communication. And as a society, we now expect immediate results and answers.”

Dr. Farmer said more of his patient base is savvier in social networking and new technologies.

Dr. Farmer often interacts with patients or prospective patients through his social network accounts, which includes Twitter and YouTube. He would log on and personally thank people who leave positive testimonials on the comment section of his latest posts.

This fall, he’s set to launch the latest redesign of his practice’s website to optimize his capabilities posting photos and sharing educational videos. His practice also has a blog where he posts information on certain procedures his patients may be interested in.

Along with the focus on online marketing, Dr. Farmer continues to advertise in more traditional media — though more strategically.

Instead of a recurrent ad in the newspaper, he targets specific events, such as back-to-school issues. He also continues his community involvement. Earlier this year, his practice participated in a local initiative that help kids in the local school system by filling backpacks with food and needed items. His practice helped filled the backpacks with toothbrushes and toothpastes.

However, despite all the savvy marketing strategies, Dr. Farmer said, no external marketing alone will ever be able to ultimately grow a practice over time.

“There are a multitude of ways to attract a new patient to your practice, but only a few ways to keep them,” he said. “While my marketing avenues will change, my commitment to delivering the highest quality of contemporary, comprehensive and compassionate care will not. And that is truly my best marketing strategy.”

New dentists sought for UCSD dental fellowship

New dentists with a passion for working with the underserved and is interested in education are encouraged to apply for a one-year stipend dental fellowship with the University of California, San Diego.

Those eligible are new dentists who are General Practice Residency (GPR) or Advance Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) graduates with a California license or is eligible for a California license.

Spanish language skills are a plus, but not required; experience in teaching or working with the underserved is also a plus.  The fellow will work in UCSD’s free dental clinics and learn first-hand about delivering high quality preventive and restorative dental care with the underserved.  This will be a full-time commitment.

UCSD’s free dental clinics have been in existence since 2002. The UCSD-Run Free Dental Clinic Project provides comprehensive dental services to underserved, unemployed, uninsured and the homeless. The clinic functions as part of a transdisciplinary model in partnership with the UCSD School of Medicine and offers medical, dental, pharmacy, social work and law. The patient population is mixed, which includes children, elderly, middle-aged, and some with special needs.

To date, the Free Dental Clinic Project has provided over 5.7 million dollars of free dental care.  Dental services include exams, x-rays, hygiene, restorative care, root canals, crowns, orthodontia, periodontics, dentures, pedodontics and more.

Based on longstanding community partnerships, the dental clinics are located at four sites including the First Lutheran Church in Downtown San Diego, the Pacific Beach United Methodist Church, Baker Elementary School, and Lemon Grove Academy; both schools serve low-income underserved students and their families. The newest clinic is at Lemon Grove Academy, which is a public pre-school through eighth grade where we also provide a one-week elective for 7th and 8th graders about oral health and staying in school, going to college and considering careers in health care, especially dentistry.

Fellows will also participate in a 3-week faculty development course in underserved dentistry and complete a project related to an area of focus. The application will be a multi-step process.  As a first step, send a letter of interest and their CV to dsilverstein22@cox.net and cbloomwhitener@ucsd.edu. UCSD hopes to fill this position and start the fellow in the clinics July 1 or as soon as feasible. For more information about our programs, visit http://fdc-pds.ucsd.edu/.  For any further information, contact Dr. Donna Kritz-Silverstein at 619.838.0822.

Your ADA membership — It’s renewal season

Be on the lookout for your membership renewal, arriving soon from your state dental society.

ADAThe ADA’s strength comes from individual dentists — more than 158,000 — meaning more resources for members and a powerful voice in Washington and state capitols.

The ADA and your state and local dental societies enhance your ability to achieve success and your excellence as a dentist, and ensure a strong future for the profession.

Not yet a member? Get started at ADA.org/belong.

ADA certificate program helps dentists be more effective small business owners

Balance the clinical skills you learned in dental school with the tools you need to be a confident small business owner with the ADA’s Executive Program in Dental Practice Management.

The new online program, available through the ADA Center for Professional Success website, is broken into six 10-hour courses where dentists will learn about financial management, enhancing marketing strategies and practicing amid increased regulation, among other topics. Dental practice management experts and ADA-selected business courses from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business blend together to form the certificate program.

Three courses are currently available and three additional ones will be launched before the end of the year. The current courses are:

•Legal and Ethical Issues in Dental Practice

•Negotiation and Conflict Management

•Understanding Leadership

Coming soon are:

•Business Strategy and Systems

•Dental Team Management

•Financial Management

Dentists must take all of the courses to receive a certificate or they can pick and choose and receive continuing education credit where appropriate. Dentists can access the Web-based courses through their desktop or laptop computers; smartphones or through MP3 or MP4 formats.

The certificate program is open to ADA members and nonmembers but members get a discounted rate. To learn more or to register, visit pmcertificate.Success.ADA.org.

October issue of New Dentist News available online

The latest issue of the New Dentist News is now available online.

The October 2014 issue includes articles to help new dentists with marketing, finances and handling ethical dilemmas.

October 2014 New Dentist NewsInside this issue include:

  • Marketing snapshot — How one practice does it.
  • Marketing the dental practice: Know the rules.
  • Working with a marketing firm.
  • Advice from a lender: Be prepared before seeking a practice loan.
  • Tap the ADA Ethics Hotline for ethical dilemmas.

To read the New Dentist News, click here.

What tips have you learned when it comes to marketing your dental practice or yourself as a dentist?

Over 200 federal dentists welcomed at ADA 2014

Over 200 federal dentists attended the ADA 2014 — America’s Dental Meeting in San Antonio, with many attending the Federal Dental Services reception held Oct. 11 at the Marriott Rivercenter.

Dentists who are in full-time military or federal government service are eligible for direct ADA membership at the national level. In 2013, there were 2,816 FDS members in the ADA.

For more information on the Federal Dental Services, click here.

Take a look at the photos from the Federal Dental Services Reception held during the annual meeting.

Federal Dental Services reception Federal Dental Services reception Federal Dental Services reception

Register now for 2014 Give Kids A Smile Day

Registration is open for the 2014 Give Kids A Smile Day. The national celebration is set for Feb. 7, 2014.

Give Kids A SmileRegister at online by Nov. 8 to be considered for free product donation. A list of product recipients will be posted on the website in December and recipients will recieve their products the week of Jan. 20, 2014.

Give Kids A Smile is made possible through the generous support of corporate sponsors, Henry Schein, Colgate and DEXIS; dentists; and other oral health care professionals who volunteer their time and services to provide needed oral health care to underserved children.

For more information, email gkas@ada.org or call 312.440.4600.

Have you participated in Give Kids A Smile programs in the past? What was your experience like? Share in the comments.

Tap the ADA Ethics Hotline for ethics dilemmas

Avoid hot water when it comes to sticky practice situations with the ADA Ethics Hotline, a member benefit made possible by a joint effort between The Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs (CEBJA), the New Dentist Committee and the ADA Member Service Center.

Ethics           Though a ready asset for any ADA member, new dentists in particular may find the hotline of great value, as they are likely experiencing first-time dilemmas. The hotline was initially created targeting new dentists, but has evolved as a membership benefit befitting every member.

The Ethics Hotline is not a legal resource but rather a service for helping to resolve ethical dilemmas much like an ethics consult service. Members may access the new member service by calling the ADA toll-free number and stating that they have a question for the ethics hotline. To reach the Ethics Hotline, call the ADA Member Service Center and ask to be connected to the hotline. All calls are confidential. Leave a confidential voicemail message.

A member of CEBJA will contact callers within 2-3 business days to arrange a mutually agreeable time to discuss the dilemma presented. Indicate very time-sensitive dilemmas in the message and CEBJA staff and members will do their best to accommodate the request for feedback.

2014 New Dentist Reception

New dentists around the country connected with their peers and enjoyed the big and bold Texas ambiance during the New Dentist Reception at the ADA 2014 – America’s Dental Meeting in San Antonio. The event was a time and place for new dentists and dental students to network, exchange ideas and enjoy the fun atmosphere, which included food, drinks and music.

Here are some photos from the event:

New Dentist Reception New Dentist Reception New Dentist Reception New Dentist Reception New Dentist Reception New Dentist Reception

Check out the new PSAs for the Kids’ Healthy Mouths campaign

Building on its highly successful 2min2x campaign, the Ad Council and The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives unveiled their new Kids’ Healthy Mouths campaign public service announcements Oct. 9 in San Antonio at ADA 2014 — America’s Dental Meeting.

The new English- and Spanish-language PSAs playfully explore how much a parent can teach a child in two minutes. The new spots are posted here.

The ADA is one of the more than 35 leading dental health organizations in The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives, a coalition that believes every child deserves a healthy smile (healthymouthshealthylives.org).

Since the launch of 2min2x in 2012, more than 1.7 million people have visited 2min2x.org, and the English and Spanish-language PSAs have received more than $64 million in donated media across TV, radio, print, web and outdoor outlets.

A 2013 Ad Council survey showed that in one year, both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking parents reported that their children were significantly more likely to brush twice a day and significantly more likely to brush for two minutes each time.

For more information about the Kids’ Healthy Mouths campaign, visit 2min2x.org and follow the campaign’s social media communities on Facebook (facebook.com/kidshealthymouths) and Twitter (@brush2min2x).

What do you think of the new 30-second ads?