Evaluating A Practice's Marketing

June 2, 2017

A physician uses his search for a new dentist as an opportunity to evaluate his own practice's marketing.

Recently, I had to make a monumental change for our family. Due to an issue with our dental insurance, we made the difficult decision to drop our family dentist of over fifteen years. Although, our dentist had been like a family friend through the decades, it did not make much financial sense for us to keep him, it was time to start finding a new one. Being admittedly overtly compulsive (and a bit anal-retentive), there was certain criteria that I wanted to make sure were filled in my quest for the ideal dentist replacement.

Let's face it, dentists are much better marketers than most doctors. It would be an interesting experiment to see what marketing features would attract me to choose my next health provider, and see how my own practice marketing compared.

After entering some basic demographic information, my dental insurance website churned out a list of 200 dentists from which to choose. Where would I start? Limiting my search to a ten mile radius, only cut that number by half.

I chose to look at other variables. Practice profiles that were incomplete, with no procedures listed or lack of a website, were immediately crossed off the list. Why bother moving forward if they do not even take the time to complete their listing? Pictures of dentists that appeared unprofessional or were missing, or websites that had not been updated in several years, also got the boot. I admit that my initial selection process was a bit superficial, but isn't this the same method when patients search for us?

Convenience and availability were my next determining factors. Do they offer night or weekend hour coverage? Do they make downloadable registration forms available online?  One feature I really love is the ability to make online appointments. Not being a fan of being tied up on the phone, it is much more convenient to be able to make an appointment with just a click of a button. Since there was only a minority of dental practices who offer these features, in allowed me to cut my search down significantly.

Finally, I cross-matched my shrinking list to online patient reviews. I looked at all the major review sites, such as Yelp, Google pages, social media sites, and some dental specific review sites.

Practices that only had all five star reviews with no negative comments listed seemed unrealistic or event artificial. Too many reviews actually made me consider that their practice could be too busy. I then focused on reviewing customer experiences. Was there a lot of staff turnover?  Did they tend to upsell procedures too aggressively? Was the practice environment clean and inviting? How did they handle anxious patients? Did the dentist keep up to date with the latest technology or just like to talk politics? Taking all these experiences into consideration allowed me to come closer to my final decision.

In the end, I never found the perfect dentist, but I did finally find one who fit the majority of my criteria. In addition to stellar but honest patient reviews, her practice website displayed a number of pleasing photos of her immaculate dental office. When I actually went for my first appointment, (which I had scheduled online, of course) I already knew what to expect as she had a detailed description of a patient's first visit. My search allowed me to play the role of prospective patient and after it was all said and done, I definitely learned a few marketing lessons that I could incorporate in my own practice when attracting new patients. So far, my experience has confirmed my selection process was on the right track.