A marketing plan is an important aspect of any company. As Dr. Gammichia said in Part 1, dental school doesn’t teach you how to run a business. Whether you’re a business owner or a dentist (or both!), this 2-part series can give you some insight on what it might look like and how to handle it. Part 2 focuses on how to successfully market yourself and your business in a highly competitive field.
Dr. John Gammichia runs a dental practice in Florida, where he adds business owner to an already busy dentistry career. He regularly blogs on The Daily Grind, backed by the Academy of General Dentistry. You may also know him from reviewing the Mom’s Guide to Caring for Little Teeth. In the midst of all that, he graciously answered our questions about how he got into dentistry, what it’s like owning his own business, and how he approaches dental marketing.
Part 2: Dental Marketing Strategy
(Did you miss the first installment? Go back and read Part 1: Owning a Business)
What is your overall marketing strategy?
What is that? I am just kidding.
Well, I have to tell you that I don’t spend too much on marketing. I do some internal marketing. That is when someone refers a friend, we send a hand-written card saying “thank you” and a $20 gas card. We spend money to be in community directories, and I do a lot of community events. I get a booth at all the Taste of the Towns and Fall Festivals. I also do a free dental day that gets a LOT of publicity (radio, daily news and some newspaper). I don’t do any mail-outs (tried that….didn’t like it) or coupons and such (tried it….didn’t like it). I find that word of mouth, meeting someone and shaking their hand, people hearing about me, is the best kind of referral source. They are not coming here because of a sale or a gimmick (and then leaving), they are coming because they heard I am a good dentist. They like it here and they stay.
What part does your website play?
It is an adjunct to my marketing. It is there. I have never felt that it solely is a good referring source. That is, someone might hear of us and then go to the site to see what we are all about. If people come to our site and don’t know us, then it is a crapshoot if they stay. Too far away, too expensive, they may not trust me… there is no relationship.
You talk a lot about integrity and word-of-mouth advertising. How does that play into your business model?
As I alluded to earlier, word of mouth is the best type of referral bar none. I do a lot of charity. If it is not my free day of dentistry, it is a patient here and there. I just finished a full free case. I’ve had a family of 5 in my practice for about 8 years now. He came up to me and asked if I might help his brother who has had a tough time of it lately. He is 35 years old and has recently gone blind. He has some teeth that are bothering him. I did a New Patient Exam, cleanings, a root canal, build-ups and about 4 fillings. All for free.
Not only is this family never going to leave me, but they are going to tell all their neighbors about how I am a great dentist and a great person (I don’t do it for the marketing, but….). I will do an employee at the local Dunkin’ Donuts. Guess who is going to be my next new patient? You guessed it… the owner.
Does your AGD blog play into any of this?
The AGD [Academy of General Dentistry] is not for marketing for me. Doing all the above takes 100% of my time. I need an organization that is going to speak for me. I trust them to make the best decisions for my profession. I sit back and do my thing knowing they are taking care of the other stuff.
If someone wanted to start their own practice or grow an existing one, what is the first thing you would tell them to do?
Get to know the manager at the local ABC Liquor. [Just kidding…]
People and patients “don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” For me it is all about relationships. Relationships with my community, relationships with my staff, relationships with my patients is the key. I find the most successful dentists are relational. I call patients every day. The patients I saw yesterday, I called today. “Just checking on you to see how it is going.” It blows their socks off.
So for the first 7 years of my practice I lived 2 miles from my office. I coached a flag football league, I sponsored a baseball team, I was active in my church, I went into schools. I was involved. I left my cell number on the answering machine at work. I was accessible 24 hours a day. That is where I would start.
Subscribe to the 1Dental blog for more dentistry and health news and tips.
Hey Hannah, great article on marketing – We started a dental marketing company that focuses in on exactly what Dr. Gammichia is talking about – web and word of mouth. We’re also trying to bring back oral health awareness with a twist that people will pay attention to, would you consider reviewing us?
Sometimes it’s frustrating to hear that dental marketing results will take time. When dentists spend thousands of dollars on something, it’s only natural to want a return as soon as possible.But marketing is really more of a marathon than a sprint.
The best results come over time.
I have a successful dental practice and I don’t spend any money on my website.
I have one and I pay to host it and that is it.
I found that the patients I get from my website are not as good as word of mouth referrals….so I spend more time and energy on my internal marketing.
Now having a web presence can be many avenues. Yelp.com can be powerful and so can Facebook but they are both free.
I have a raffle, for a TV, at my office and the only way to get a raffle ticket is to “Check in” on Facebook.
Hope that helps.
You say you’re not sure how important your website is in your marketing mix? In my experience if you’re a dental professional today your internet presence is one of the most valuable tools available. I’d be surprised if many successful dental practices do not invest actively in maintaining and promoting their internet/web presence.
This is incredibly interesting to have this perspective from dentist.