By Dr. Mark WhitefieldThe Yellow Pages, radio, television, mass mailings. These are but a few of the ways dentists typically get the word out about their practices. But how effective are these marketing methods? It’s easy to spend thousands of dollars on advertising, only to come up way short on the ROI. Often, it is little more than an expensive roll of the dice. When telephone was a monopoly, the Yellow Pages were the only game in town. Now, Internet advertising is the standard. These days Facebook is the norm, and to not have a website is unthinkable. Yet many professionals are missing out on the single most important revolution since the Internet. While we have been staring at our office and home computers, Smartphones and mobile computer devices have quietly conquered the market. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is an app worth? Consider these numbers:• There are over 66 million Smartphone users in the U.S.• 20 million iPhones were sold last quarter• 9 million iPads were sold last quarter• Sales are increasing at a monthly rate of 75% to 100%• Approximately 500,000 apps are on the market for download• Over 15 billion apps have been downloaded so far The paradigm shift has already occurred! Apps have come into our lexicon and are as familiar as Kleenex and Coke. Restaurants, retail stores, magazines, and social media companies have all realized the power of mobile apps and are investing accordingly. Why haven’t dentists? The economics are clear. An average ad in the Yellow Pages can cost over $20,000 per year, and yet the number of people using these directories is dropping every day. People now routinely search Google for phone numbers. Advertising methods such as the phone book, newspaper, television, and radio are ongoing expensive costs, and the benefits stop the second your budget runs out. With the numbers of ads people see everywhere, they have become desensitized to advertising’s effectiveness. Spending advertising dollars in this manner is equivalent to throwing darts while blindfolded. You have little chance of hitting the mark and really can’t tell if you do or not.
However, consider the power of your patients carrying your custom app on their mobile phone or device. The effectiveness of “word of mouth” advertising is proven. By having your free app on their mobile devices, your patients essentially become evangelists for your office, spreading the good word about your services. Imagine a patient showing a friend or coworker your cosmetic cases photos displayed on their iPhone or iPad. Or what if they could be educated on the benefits of dental implants on an Android phone? How cutting edge does this make your practice look? A practice can have a custom app developed for a one-time cost of $2,000 and a small monthly maintenance charge. That’s it. Once it’s available for downloading, the ongoing costs are minimal, but the power and effectiveness are unlimited!Dr. Mark Whitefield practices in Nashville with a focus on implants, cosmetics, and restorative dentistry. He is also the founder of IPractice Marketing, a mobile media marketing company that specializes in custom mobile media applications for dental offices. You can reach Dr. Whitefield at IPracticeMarketing.com or call (615) 889-5545.