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The transformation of dental marketing: Enter the growth hacker

May 28, 2014
Growth hacking adds a new dimension to dental practice marketing
One of Google’s most searched terms of 2013 was “growth hacking.” This is the year that growth hacking strategies were implemented in a dental practice for the first time. So the question begs; what is growth hacking? Is it a viable strategy for your dental practice? What are the benefits over traditional dental marketing? I’ll answer these questions and more, and I hope to help make 2014 your most profitable year ever.

What is growth hacking?
Here’s the definition at hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups that uses creativity, product development, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure. Growth hackers focus on low-cost and innovative alternatives to traditional marketing, i.e., utilizing social media, coding, creation of apps, UX design, and viral marketing instead of buying advertising through traditional media such as AdWords (pay-per-click), radio, newspaper, and television.”

Growth hackers are especially good at using techniques such as search engine optimization, website analytics, content marketing, coding, app creation/utilization, and A/B testing. Examples of companies that have used growth hacking strategies to produce explosive growth include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (my personal favorite), AirBnB, Pinterest, Groupon, and Dropbox.

A growth hacker typically begins a new client relationship by asking, “How do I get more quality new patients for my clients, increase case acceptance and referrals, and improve retention?”

It’s at this point that the strategies used by a growth hacker begin to quickly diverge away from those of a traditional dental marketer. A growth hacker uses strategies and tools such as A/B split testing, landing pages, viral factors, creation and implementation of customized apps, email deliverability, APIs, and open graph. The hacker will be well versed in the discipline of direct response marketing, quantitative measurement, scenario modeling via spreadsheets, and database queries.

The process of growth hacking your dental practice includes the integration and optimization of your practice to a big platform (scalability), and requires a blurring of lines between marketing, your process and service offerings, and engineering, so that they work together to make your practice literally “market” itself. Projects such as email deliverability, website page load times, and Facebook sign-in apps (when someone uses their Facebook login information to register on your website, with their permission you’re given immediate access to their contacts) are no longer technical or design decisions. Instead they are offensive weapons that provide an unbeatable edge over the competition.

The stakes for your dental marketing program (and your practice) are huge because the growth hacker can give you permission-based entry into “superplatforms,” which give you instant access to thousands of prospective new patients. The skills the growth hacker possesses are invaluable and can instantly change the growth trajectory of your dental practice.

The growth hacker offers dentists an unprecedented opportunity for sustainable growth by accessing super-viral communication platforms that can rapidly speed up the proliferation of your online footprint. Not only is the market bigger, but it moves faster too.

Before the genesis of the growth hacker,dental marketing relied on the only communication channels available – newspaper, TV, direct mail, yellow pages, and less-than-sophisticated dental web marketing techniques such as websites, blogs, email marketing, dentist SEO, and social media, usually Facebook.

Today, the traditional communication channels are fragmented and passé. The fastest way to grow your dental practice is by distributing and displaying it on a platform using APIs, not the traditional website. Development, growth, and sustainability of your practice are now API-centric, not people-centric.

Whereas PR, advertising, and the current dental marketing model used to be the drivers of new patient acquisition, instead it’s now a lagging indicator that your Facebook integration is working. The role of the dental marketing expert, thought to be a nontechnical role, is rapidly fading, and in its place is a new breed of dental marketing hybrids (growth hackers).

Dentists can generate more and higher quality new patients for their practice, hold every marketing dollar accountable, and create sustainable growth, faster and cheaper than ever before. Growth hacking is not something you “do” to your dental practice; it’s something you build into every aspect of your practice.

LinkedIn tops Facebook for producing new dental patient traffic

Ken Newhouse, DDS, is the Founder of Growth Hacker Central, the fastest-growing provider of dentist SEO and dental web marketing strategies, systems, and tools with 2,800+ dentists worldwide. Ken also serves as CEO of Practice Doctor Management, an organization that provides a variety of offline dental marketing systems and coaching. Ken is a certified LinkedIn expert, reaching his first 1,000 connections in less-than 30 days. You can connect with Ken on LinkedIn here.