Yelp marketing for dentists: An interview on a heated topic with Dr. Anthony Nguyen
Adam Smith talks to Dr. Anthony Nguyen, dentist-owner of Pro Smile Dental Care in San Ramon, California, about achieving practice growth in a competitive market. Dr. Nguyen also discusses Yelp marketing for dental practices.
TODAY I HAD THE CHANCE to interview Anthony Nguyen, DDS, who practices in an extremely competitive market. I wanted to find out how Dr. Nguyen has been able to grow his practice, Pro Smile Dental Care in San Ramon, California, by 40 to 50 new patients per month over the last 11 years. I also wanted to hear about his experience with Yelp—the review platform that many dentists have mixed feelings about. Without further ado, let's jump into the interview.
Dr. Nguyen, I understand that you have been able to get a lot of new patients by using media that many dentists shun. Can you tell me more about that?
Sure! I have managed to get around 20 new patients per month from Yelp, even in the early stages of my practice. Being from California, Yelp is very popular. I didn't really do anything to grow my Yelp presence at first. Then one day, one of my new patients told me that he decided to come to my practice because of the great reviews that I had on Yelp. I had no idea! He showed me some of the reviews, and I decided to give Yelp a little bit more attention. I added images and information about our practice because from what I was reading, those things helped my rankings on Yelp. I kept taking good care of my patients, and the good reviews kept coming in to the point that it now provides about half of my new-patient flow on a monthly basis.
Do you pay for ads on Yelp?
No, I have never paid for ads. I guess I just rank well because of the reviews, the images, and details that I have added.
That's interesting. Based on feedback that I see in dental groups, a lot of dentists despise Yelp and want nothing to do with it.
Yes, I have seen that too. But while I don't necessarily recommend advertising with them, I definitely recommend not ignoring them! At least do all of the free stuff and try to get a few reviews. Just put up the sticker in your window that tells people to find you on Yelp, and that should get a few people to leave reviews.
In the 11 years that you have owned your practice, is there anything that you have tried by way of marketing that has completely tanked?
I think it is really hard to say if a marketing piece has completely tanked. I can definitely say that there were a couple things that had a very low measurable ROI. For example, for the first few years I was in business, we sent out about 60,000 postcards. The actual return, as far as new patients who brought in the offer, was less than 15 patients. It also seemed like we attracted patients who were just looking for a deal; they didn't stay around for more than the first visit. That was a very low measurable ROI, and is something I will not do again, but who really knows if that helped get some name recognition that helped drive other advertising campaigns that have worked.
The ineffectiveness of the direct mail campaigns could have been due to my area, or even my offer, but knowing what I do now, it is just not something that I would invest in again.
Now I want to ask you one of my favorite questions. If everything fell apart today and you had to start again from scratch, how would you do it knowing what you know now?
I would start by making sure that I provided good work and I got my name out there. I would accomplish this by getting online reviews and investing in a good online marketing company to help me get found on the internet. I would also focus on driving internal referrals—because of the good work that I was providing. That would be it, in a nutshell.
You know, these days, almost everyone finds services and products they are looking for online. Since that has been the source of about 75% of all of our new patients, that would be where I would spend my money.
Also, when someone referred a friend, I would send them a nice thank you gift and make sure to take very good care of the referred patient. That is what I do now, and that is the source of about 10 new patients per month for us.
Dr. Nguyen, thank you for your time. I like how a lot of the things that you mentioned are straightforward and easy to follow. Thanks again for taking some time with me today!
Adam Smith is co-owner of Oxford Dental Care and has personally consulted with more than 70 dental practices across the United States and Canada. He worked as a consultant and a data analyst with Dental Intel, where he fell in love with the statistics and business aspect of dentistry. Adam has a background in online marketing and website development, and works with a few select practices on their marketing on a referral basis only. He also runs a dental marketing Facebook group where he provides tips to dentists to improve their online marketing. If you have any questions, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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.