By Dr. Gary Solomon
As dentists we may know our way around a mouth, but getting us to market ourselves is like pulling teeth. Besides, even if you do have the time and energy to market, who has the budget these days? You're about to learn how a simple, crazy idea can result in tens of thousands of dollars in free publicity.
Several weeks ago a colleague and I were having lunch and talking about how popular the Cash for Clunkers program had become and how car dealers across the country were benefiting from all the news coverage. We also knew better than to wait around for Washington to come up with a similar stimulus program for dentists. That's when the Cash for Chompers program was born.
Why not encourage people to bring in their old dentures for a $250 rebate off a new pair? At first, we laughed at how silly an idea it was, but after giving it a little more thought, we decided it was just crazy enough to work. Why not? The news loves those quirky, off-beat stories to run at the end of the broadcast. With all the gloomy economic news, it just might be a story the media could sink its teeth into.
We started by contacting our local media. Within hours the first camera crew had arrived to put the story on the evening news. By the next morning, the phones were blowing up at the office. I found myself doing live radio interviews with morning DJ's from coast to coast. And it didn't stop there. The next morning, a car and driver met me at the house to take me to the FOX studios in Dallas for a live interview on the national morning show Fox and Friends.
Later that day, I did a little Googling and discovered the story had gone global on the Internet. Try a search for the phrase “Cash for Chompers,” you'll be amazed. The story has been picked up by news outlets from Seattle to Shanghai and it didn't cost me a dime.
The message? Marketing doesn't have to mean money. It also doesn't have to take a lot of time. I squeezed in media interviews between patients, who loved the idea that they were being treated by a “celebrity” dentist.
In fact, the program has been so successful, we may expand it to include other areas of our practice. How about Credit or Crowns or Funds for Fillings?
You can do the same thing in your practice. The next time you see the media going crazy about something, just sell them what they're already buying. The denture program was such a perfect tie-in to the story that was leading every newscast in the nation. It was a natural fit.
All you need is to have the courage to get out of your comfort zone. It would have been easy to dismiss the Cash for Chompers program as an absurd idea and we could have stuck with a more traditional approach to marketing. Instead, we put ourselves out there and received worldwide publicity for our practice. If you've been grinding your teeth over ways to attract more business, give it a try. What do you have to lose other than your anonymity?
Dr. Gary Solomon has been recognized by Texas Monthly for the last three years as one of the “Top Dentists in Texas.” He practices in Dallas and can be reached at www.garysolomondds.com