I RECENTLY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to take an in-depth look at the practice of Mark D. McOmie, DMD, who has nearly 20 years' experience in the dental industry. Dr. McOmie is the owner of McOmie Family Dentistry in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He has seen many changes, trends, and transitions in the dental industry, and through it all he has managed to successfully grow his practice at an awesome rate.
In previous interviews, I've talked with dentists about marketing pearls that have helped them build their brands and get new patients—from how to effectively market using Facebook to managing an internal referral program. Talking with Dr. McOmie was no exception. Read on to learn about his successful ventures into morning television and search engine marketing!
Interview with Mark D. McOmie, DMD, of McOmie Family Dentistry
Can you give us a little background about your practice?
The name of our practice is McOmie Family Dentistry. Our practice opened in 1998. It seems amazing we have been in business that long. Our location was originally a car dealership. We started out with humble beginnings and only three operatories, but within three years we had more than doubled the size of our practice. We have been growing ever since. We are coming up on our 20-year anniversary.
Sure! We have a local NBC news station here in Chattanooga. It is a popular news station here in town. I volunteered to go on their morning talk show, which showcases small businesses. I have been able to do this with them on a regular basis, and we have had excellent new patient flow that comes from it. The best part of it is that it costs us nothing, and only requires an hour of my time when I go on the show.
That is really great! I have heard mixed reviews about television marketing in my conversations with dentists. What do you think is different about what you are doing?
This is not traditional television marketing, where they would show an advertisement about our dental practice. This is a highly watched morning show, and I just go on there and try to provide as much value as possible. I think people see that differently than they see an advertisement. So, I think the volume of people watching and the non-salesy approach we take are the things that have made it so successful.
In terms of this being successful, what kind of new patient flow are you seeing from this?
That varies because we don't do it every month or even every other month. We typically go on a couple times per year. In the months immediately following, we get a lot of high quality new patients—probably between 20 and 40 per month. That number trickles off a little bit after that, but we still have patients several months after who are telling us that is how they found us. We have definitely had several hundred patients come from this free marketing strategy.
Now that you have provided us with some great actionable information about what is working, can you give us an example of some things that haven't worked in the past?
It is hard to put a finger on a strategy that did not work, because you have to define what "not working" means. We have never had anything that didn't yield any results.
However, one of our less effective campaigns we ran for several years. We would take a cosmetic dental patient like a full-mouth rehabilitation case or a veneer case and have the patient professionally photographed. Then we would run a full page in a local high-end magazine specific to Chattanooga. It brought in a few patients, and maybe it helped us establish a reputation. It was fairly expensive at the time, at about $2,000 per ad, which we ended up doing about 12 times in a year. We didn't see palpable returns on this. A few patients came from it, but I think for the price we could have done something else that was better.
We did a few billboards for a couple of months at $3,000, and they really had about zero calculable return as well. Again, one could argue it helped us to build our brand.
You have been in the game for quite some time now. Based on how things have changed over the years, what would you recommend as a marketing strategy to someone who is just getting started?
As a marketing strategy, I would recommend getting a clear view of what you want your practice to be. Do everything that you can with that optimal practice in mind, and you will achieve it. Build out your marketing pieces with that view.
I would definitely recommend building online marketing into that strategy because that seems to be the way that a lot of things are going these days. We have moved into this strategy, and it is definitely yielding results. To anyone starting out, I would recommend putting your marketing money toward being found online first and foremost, then branching out to other marketing.
That seems to be a common thread among a lot of the interviews I have done. Any recommendations on finding a great company?
Search for dentists in neighboring cities—especially bigger cities. Pick the top results (because they are doing something right), and see if you can talk to the owners about who is doing their online marketing. As long as you are not a direct competitor, they should be open to sharing that information with you.
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Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Apex360 e-newsletter. Apex360 is a DentistryIQ partner publication for dental practitioners and members of the dental industry. Its goal is to provide timely dental information and present it in meaningful context, empowering those in the dental space to make better business decisions. Subscribe to the Apex360 e-newsletter here.