Apples to apples: How to choose marketing methods that actually work in your dental market
Dr. Todd Miles learned the hard way that to plan marketing for his dental practice, he needed to study similar practices. He found others that resembled his in many ways, and guess what? Their marketing methods worked for his practice too.
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I recently had the opportunity to interview a friend of mine, Dr. Todd Miles. Todd owns Delaney Park Dental in Anchorage, Alaska. He purchased his practice a little more than 18 months ago, and he’s been implementing different marketing tactics in order to grow his practice.
Some have provided great ROI, while others have fallen completely flat. Anchorage is a very competitive market, so take that into account if you decide to implement any of the marketing methods that Dr. Miles shares in this interview. Let's jump right in!
Todd, I know you have an interesting story about why you decided to practice dentistry. Can you share that with us?
Sure! When I was 23 years old, I went in for a routine dental exam and x-rays. During the exam, my dentist actually found a tumor in my jaw, which I was able to have removed. Being proactive about my dentistry allowed my dentist to find the tumor in the early stages, and this had a major impact on my life.
I realized that this was just one of the many ways that a dentist can change a person's life, and I decided that I wanted to be part of that experience for others. I’ve spent a lot of time completing advanced training courses that allow me to do a number of procedures that really do change people's lives for the better.
That’s really cool! So, give us a little background about your practice and what you’ve accomplished since purchasing the practice.
I purchased my practice about a year and a half ago. It was a fairly small practice with a loyal patient base. My goal was to carry on providing quality routine care to these patients, while introducing several of the advanced procedures that I provide. I also wanted to grow the patient base slightly to fill my schedule a little more completely than the previous doctor did.
Have you been successful in doing that?
Yes, and no. We’ve accomplished some of those things, but others have not gone quite according to plans.
Can you provide some specifics on that? What’s gone according to plan, and what has not?
Sure. We’ve successfully implemented many of the procedures that I provide into the practice, and patients have actually been very excited about that. We’ve maintained the size of the practice, but growing the patient base has been a little more difficult than I expected. We’ve tried several things, some of which have worked well and others that have not.
I see. This is the real value that these interviews provide. Would mind getting more specific about what’s worked for you and what has not?
Well, when I first purchased the practice, we immediately started running mailers targeting people who were in need of dental implants. I’d heard about other people who had gotten good results doing this, so I thought it would be a good way to build up the patient base right out of the gate. I was wrong. We dumped over $10,000 into the mailers and only had three consults, none of which turned into actual treatment. To date, this was definitely our biggest marketing lesson.
What was the lesson specifically?
Just because something worked for someone else does not necessarily mean that it’s going to work for you. Markets are different, so something that works for a friend may fall flat for you.
That’s a good lesson to learn! What are the other things that have and have not worked for you?
Earlier this year I hired a company to run some Facebook ads for me. Again, these were targeting some of the more complex procedures that I was offering. These have actually provided a fairly good ROI. To date we have spent about $12,000 on the ads and the ad management, and we have done over $50,000 of treatment directly from these ads.
We also recently started working with an SEO company that I was referred to by a friend who is in a similar market to the Anchorage market. While we’re still in the very early stages, we’re already starting to see patients from that, which is really exciting.
Let me summarize the things that have worked for you and what you’ve learned from them, and let me know if I’m on the right track. First, postcards did not work for you, and you attribute this to a different market than those markets where they are working, is that right?
Yes, either different market, different offer, or different reach. Either way, they did not work for me.
Perfect. Second, Facebook ads are providing you with a good ROI. But this could be due to the fact that you are marketing more complex procedures with them, right?
That could be, but I haven't tried the ads for general procedures. You could get more from them, so I can't speak to how well the Facebook ads work for general procedures.
Got it! You also mentioned SEO, even though you’re in the early stages. I heard you say something important that I see a lot of people missing. You said you were referred to your SEO company by a friend in a similar market. Why is that important?
I learned my lesson from the postcards. If something was working for someone else, I wanted to make sure that it was working for practices in similar market sizes, as well as similar competition to mine. Anchorage is very competitive, so I found a referral from a friend who is also in a very competitive market. That way I could be confident that the SEO company would know how to get results in a competitive market.
That is sage advice, Todd. Thanks for your insights today!