What kind of agency is my dental marketing agency?

How do dentists know if they've found the best marketing agency for their dental practice? This expert offers some tips on what to look for when choosing this important business partner.

Marketing Digital

Nearly every dental practice can benefit from marketing its services. There are, however, very few areas where traditional advertising will deliver superior results to digital advertising.

Some areas where traditional advertising can prevail is when a practice opens for the first time in a market. Also, when a practice is well-established in a market or geography, traditional advertising techniques offer superb opportunities for maintaining its reputation. When marketing to seniors, traditional advertising will can still deliver decent results since the senior online presence is limited in certain geographic areas. 

But for almost all other initiatives, digital will deliver superior results. Internet advertising programs, when set up correctly, regularly deliver an 8–to–10–times return on spending. But it should be noted that this kind of performance has as much to do with how a practice handles an incoming lead as it does with generating the lead itself. 

How can you tell if an agency has digital marketing in its DNA versus one that, like many agencies, is learning digital marketing as it goes, using your business as a testing lab? 

Look for credentials

The advertising and marketing industry is woefully short on codified standards and credentials. Literally anyone can hang out a shingle and market. But one of the good things about Google’s dominance of the online advertising business is that they have imposed some baseline credentials. Google Ads certification is a process by which Google recognizes marketers as experts in online advertising. Furthermore, Google Ad Partners have been given special recognition for having all of their campaigns perform exceptionally on the platform. On Facebook, marketers can become a Facebook-certified professional through its Blueprint Certification process. These are not rubber stamp certifications, but these credentials can offer you confidence that your would-be agency is not attending its first rodeo. 

Look at the legacy

The business of advertising is old, but the business of internet advertising is not. Has the agency your dental practice is considering simply rebranded itself as “new and improved,” when in fact their real expertise lies with traditional advertising? This is not meant to be unkind.  All industries are in a state of evolution, and the companies that operate in them are evolving with them.   

But the question here is just how far along your prospective agency might be. Look carefully at case studies, work samples, and performance results. It should all be digital, and if it’s not, your would-be agency might not be right for your practice. 

Look for purity

Traditional advertising often tries to make people aware of a problem they need to solve—such as dandruff—or they strive to embed a brand in our memory—such as Geico—so that we remember them when we’re ready to buy. 

This works. But it doesn’t work as well as digital marketing, which puts goods and services in front of consumers at the moment they’re looking for it. Absent a large budget, the two approaches are mutually exclusive. Therefore, when evaluating the agency that you want to deliver at 8–to–10–times return on your spending, you want an agency that proposes a purely digital approach. A combination of digital and traditional strategies on a dental practice budget will only serve to dilute the power of either approach. 

Pulling it all together

The reason these highly-focused skills matter is because of the dramatically different media buying regimes for digital versus traditional advertising. In traditional advertising, you buy as much advertising as you can afford, from which your agency earns a commission. 

In digital, you and your agency are bidding for selected keywords or targeted demographics. How far your dollar stretches relies on their ability to find keywords that are relevant, and to design ads that are consistent with the conventions and standards of the platform. This latter element is a technical capability that is developed through experience. 

In traditional advertising, it’s possible to enjoy price improvement by increasing your spending and dickering with your agency over its commission. These price improvements are important and can be material. The dynamics are completely different in digital. The price you or your agency pays is based on the price you bid, plus the quality of the ad, where quality is measured in terms of adherence to the platform’s standards and conventions. 

This is where the rubber hits the road because without knowledge of ad quality standards, the price one advertiser pays can be quite a bit higher than another advertiser. Let’s say one advertiser pays $1 per click, while another, because of substandard ad quality, pays $2. What happens? 

The low-cost advertiser is more likely to hit the 8–to–10–times payoff. The low-cost advertiser can advertise twice as much as the high-cost advertiser. The low-cost advertiser is likely to be more profitable than the high-cost advertiser. The low-cost agency will have lower customer acquisition costs and will deliver a higher return from each new customer it acquires during the customer relationship.  

In advertising, promotion, and marketing, the times are changing. Dental practices don’t need to change with them per se, but they do need to be aware of the skills and experiences of the marketing partners that can help them, and they need to use this knowledge to choose wisely.

Shay Berman is the founder and president of Digital Resource, an internet marketing agency that specializes in assisting dental practices with increasing patient volume and practice revenue through innovative digital marketing programs. Mr. Berman attended Michigan State University, where he learned from Google executives who taught there. This knowledge, along with extensive experience in the dental business, has been instrumental in his success advising dental practices. Contact Mr. Berman at shay@yourdigitalresource.com. 

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