Five Things You Should Look For When Choosing a Dental / Medical Marketing Company

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Five Things You Should Look For When Choosing a Dental / Medical Marketing Company

Business Plan copyThis week are discussing what dentists and doctors should be looking for when choosing a dental / medical marketing company.

  • How many clients have they worked with LIKE YOU? You want to work with a marketing company that has “been there, done that.”, and has significant experience working with doctors. You don’t want to be their first client so that they can make their mistakes with you. Make sure they are experienced (i.e. they have already had plenty of successes and a few failures and learned from them all). Ask for references, case studies, etc.
  • Your marketing company should have a proficient understanding of your services and how they appeal to your patients. Dentistry is a unique (and complicated) business. That is why you have to go to school for so long! A really good dental/medical marketer understands your business and services (at least at a high level) and more importantly, understands the best ways to communicate those services to the masses.
  • They should not be too big…or too small. If you work with one of the bigger agencies you will likely be pawned off on rotating account managers who will ask you your customer ID number every time you call. If you decide to cancel your service you will be put in an endless loop of trying to find the right person that you have to speak to before you cancel. If you work with a company that is too small you will end up waiting months and months for your logo to be designed! You want to work with a company that knows you by name, not account number; and where the success of your business is as important to them as it is to you.


What Makes You So Special? 4 Tips on How to Answer that Question.

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Untitled design (5)Everyone thinks they are special (including me). We all know we are better than our competitors. But when our patients ask us why, it is often a hard question to answer with certainty. Even though we may know what makes us better, it not always easy to communicate that to a patient.

In the increasingly competitive market of dentistry, it is more important than ever to STAND OUT. If potential patients see your marketing and think you are no different than the other dentists out there, why should they pick up the phone and call you? Here are some tips on how to STAND OUT.


A Huge, Untapped Source for New Patients. Right There in Your Office!

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Today we’d like to talk about a source of new patient referrals that is often overlooked in a dental practice.  Referrals from your team members.

open for businessI am not talking about the friends and family referrals that you might get from your receptionist or your assistant (that you feel obligated to offer at a discount), but a calculated and measurable plan to increase the number of patients that come to you through this channel of people.

Have you ever considered that your team can be a walking billboard for your business when they are out on their lunch break or just running errands on the weekend?  Why not encourage them to engage with potential new patients when they are out and about?

It is real simple to do. It requires not much more than a handful of Care to Share cards and maybe a clever, well-designed t-shirt branded with your logo that encourages potential patients to ask your team members, “Hey, where is that dental office?”  (According to OSHA, they should not be wearing those scrubs out of the office anyway!)


Two Great TED Talks That Will Help You Be a Better Practice Owner (and a Better Leader)

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ted4When you own your own practice you are not just a doctor, but also a business owner, an entrepreneur and a leader. But what makes a person a great leader?  Are leaders born or are they made? Famed marketing and management guru Simon Sinek discusses these topics in two short Ted Talks (links below). As the leader of your practice we hope that they might inspire you lead your team and grow your practice to new heights! Both of these talks can also be listened to in your car if you want to make the most of your commute! They are shorter than 20 minutes.


Google Search

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Welcome to Practice Treatment Plan’s Bi-weekly New Patient Marketing Tips! Delivered to you every two weeks.
Today’s Topic: Google Search
dental marketing new patientsWhen people think of digital marketing there is one word that comes to mind over and over again…Google.  So much of the success of your online marketing campaign is centered on how Google treats your website.  As I have mentioned in past blog posts, Google’s purpose and mission is to provide reliable content based on the search terms plugged in by its users.  Providing useful content is the number one rule of showing up on the first page of the organic search results…the more relevant your content, the better your placement over time.
There was one major change that Google made just a few months ago that has drastically altered how your website shows up in those search results. It is called the “3-Pack”.
The search experience on Google used to look like this: First, a potential patient would enter a popular search term into Google like, “dentist near me”. At the top of the results page, the patient would see:
  • Two to three ads (indicated by the word “Ad” written in yellow). These are known as “Adwords” or Pay-per-click” (PPC) ads.
  • Next the user would see a map to the right, and seven local map listings to the left (known as the 7-Pack).
  • Then, below that the user would see the “organic” search results.
Now, if your website popped up in the 7-Pack that was fantastic! Even if you were number 4 or 5 on that list that was a pretty sweet spot to hold on your way to the top.  However, as Google likes to do, they shook things up and now only the top THREE spots are displayed in the search results… and thus, the 3-Pack was born.  If your website was listed as number 4, 5, 6 or 7 you no longer even show up in the results on the first page. Ouch.
Why would Google do this?  According to a Google Spokesperson quoted in an article on, “We are constantly exploring the best way to bring a better search experience to our users. This update provides people with more relevant information, including photos, reviews and prices, for searches that have multiple results for a given location.”
There is also some buzz that Google is trending away from an “organic” search result model and toward paid ads. This is something we have been telling our clients for years. We figured it out because we realized that Google is a big company that likes to make money (and really, don’t we all?). Of course they want more businesses using their Pay-Per-Click model, in which they receive direct compensation for sending people to your website.
So, what does it all mean? 
It is really very simple. If you are in a competitive area with more than three competitors, then you need to utilize Pay-Per-Click to get people to your healthcare website!
Practice Treatment Plan currently manages 40+ successful pay-per-click management campaigns for our clients. Pay-per-click has traditionally been one of our highest return on investment activities for our clients. Let us help you explore this channel if you are not doing so today. Just email me at to get started.
Practice Success,


Benjamin Suggs

New Patient Marketing Strategist

Practice Treatment Plan, Inc.

Creating WOW Moments for Your Patients

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Creating WOW Moments!

Welcome to the Practice Treatment Plan’s Weekly New Patient Marketing Tips! As a new patient marketing company, we are very focused on what happens outside of the practice to get new patients through your doors. But, we also understand that creating a great patient experience is critical to get those new patients to refer even more new patients. We call it the referral multiplier, and we believe that every patient has at least one person they can refer to you. For the remainder of this year we will be discussing “WOW Moments” and ways that you can attract and keep quality, new patients (and get those patients to refer MORE NEW PATIENTS)!

Imagine yourself…

You walk through the door into a dingy room that hasn’t been updated since the Reagan administration. You approach the fogged, sliding glass window and give it a light tap.  It opens to reveal the top of the head of a receptionist as she slides a clipboard toward you and tells you to fill out the attached forms, with barely a glance up from her own paperwork.  You retreat to the seating area and choose the chair that has the least amount of stuffing popping out of the worn upholstery. After you fill out your forms, you return the clipboard to the countertop in front of the closed window.  As you retake your seat the window quickly slides open and you see a hand snatch your paperwork like a velociraptor capturing prey before the window snaps shut again.  As you watch the minutes tick by past your appointment time (5…10…15) you entertain yourself with a 1991 Reader’s Digest (at least the joke section never gets old). Then, the door opens up and your last name is called.  Before you can even stand up, the person who has summoned you is half way down the hall leaving you to break into a light jog in order to catch up. Does this sound like a patient experience in your practice?  I sure hope not.
The experience described above may been acceptable a decade ago but times have changed.  I cannot stress this enough: the competition for new and better patients that you face is FIERCE and you had better be able to play by the new rules.  For better or worse, we live in a culture of instant gratification, a high level of expectation in customer service and the ability to quickly, easily and publicly shame those that we feel fall below our expectations (see last month’s blog posts about patient review sites).  We are marketing to a new, young generation of savvy consumers who understand the power they wield. It is no longer acceptable for you to “just” provide the excellent level of health care to your patients for which you have spent years in training.  Now you must provide an exceptional EXPERIENCE.

WOW Moment: Throw a Patient Appreciation Party!

PTP Patient Experience CoverWith Thanksgiving only a week away we are reminded to think about what we are grateful for. Showing gratitude and appreciation for what you already have is the only way to attract more of what you want in life.  Show your current patients that you are thankful for them by holding a free yearly event in their honor that includes great food, fun and fellowship. Most importantly, encourage them to invite their friends and family who are not yet patients of yours.  You can hold the event in your practice to showcase your modern design and cutting-edge equipment or you can hold the event off-site at a local restaurant like a pizza place.  If your practice treats children exclusively then renting a movie theater for an afternoon would be quite a fun experience for your current and potential new patients!
Give Out Prizes. Get your patients excited and engaged in your event by raffling off cool prizes.  Offer one raffle ticket for every non-patient that they bring with them to your event to increase their chance of winning.  Let the potential new patients enter the raffle once they give you their contact information for follow-up. You can cut your costs by asking other local businesses if they would like to contribute items to the raffle so they to can promote their business at your event as well.  We have seen this work out really well with local massage businesses.  Often they like to participate in your event not just by donating a gift card but also by setting up a massage chair to give out free 5-minute back massages.  This is a win-win for everybody!
Don’t Forget to Promote the Event Before & After. Don’t be shy about promoting your event (and give yourself about a month to do so). You want people to show up! At the event, take a lots of photos. Make sure to plaster those photos all over your website and social media after the event so that all new patients will se what a fun practice you have!
Appreciation events are a fun way to engage with your current and future patients and work toward building lasting relationships with them.  Check back with us in the coming weeks as we discuss other “WOW Moments” that you can create in the way you communicate with your patients!

Practice Success,

Benjamin Suggs

New Patient Marketing Strategist

Practice Treatment Plan, Inc.

How Many New Patient Opportunities Are You Missing Each Month?

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Today I have a few questions for you…
How many new patient phone calls does your practice get each month?
How many of these calls come into your practice during times when nobody is answering the phone?
For those calls that are answered, how many are successfully converted into new patient appointments? 
If you are spending money to drive potential new patients to your practice, the truth is that every time that phone rings, you have paid for that ring to occur. And each time the phone rings with a prospective patient on the other end, there are only 4 things that can happen:
  1. Call goes unanswered, new patient leaves a message requesting a return phone call.
  2. Call goes unanswered, new patient chooses NOT to leave a message requesting a call back. (Missed Opportunity)
  3. Your front desk team fields the call and appoints the new patient.
  4. Your front desk team fields the call but is UNABLE to appoint the patient. (Missed Opportunity)
For the past few years, we have tracked our clients marketing efforts using call tracking. Over that time, we have learned some things that may shock you.
  • On average, practices are missing 40 patient calls per month, with most of those occuring during business hours. Less than 30% of those missed calls leave voicemails.
  • In the initial month of call tracking, we find that offices are converting new patient callers into new patients less than 50% of the time!
Think about how those missed opportunities can add up. Let’s assume that your practice gets 40 new patient calls a month, and 20 end up appointing as new patients. Your practice is converting at 50%. If you could increase your conversion to 60%, that would equal an additional 4 new patients per month (48 per year!). 70%? that would be an additional 8 new patients per month (96 per year!). How much would those incremental patients be worth to your practice?
Would you would like to know how many opportunities you might be missing? 
Ask us about our call tracking service, Opportunity Track. We will track, record and summarize your new patient calls, and quantify for you how many potential opportunities are being missed. The report will help you (or your practice management consultant) identify ways to improve your call handling to ensure that you are capturing all of the opportinities you are already paying for! Call (888) 412-8820 or visit

Practice Success,

Benjamin Suggs

New Patient Marketing Strategist

Practice Treatment Plan, Inc.

What About Other Review Sites (besides Google)?

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Welcome to Practice Treatment Plan’s Weekly New Patient Marketing Tips! Today’s tip is part five of a 5-part series in October all about Google Reviews. Here is a quick preview of what is coming up. For more information please call 888.412.8820 or email me at


Oct 1st: Importance of Google Reviews
Oct 8th: Three Ways to get Google Reviews
Oct 15th: Three MORE ways to get Google Reviews
Oct 22nd: How to handle bad reviews
TODAY: What about other review sites?

When it comes to websites that feature reviews of local businesses, Google+ is not the only player in the game (although the most important). There are a few other outlets for patients to rate and review your practice and we will discuss them below.


While you might think of Facebook as just a way to waste minutes (ok, maybe hours) of time during your week, it is also a great source of reviews for your practice. People are on Facebook all the time, more so than other review sites, so it is easy for them to either sing your praises or call for your head within just a few clicks. Facebook has a feature called Starred Reviews for local businesses that allows ratings and reviews on your business page. If you would like to enable this feature you must choose “Local Businesses” for your page’s category when setting up the business page.

A page’s starred rating is an average of all of the PUBLIC star ratings a business has received. When someone reviews your page they can choose which audience to share their rating with. If they choose to only share it with their friends then that rating will not be included in the page’s overall rating.

According to Facebook, reviewers of your business must follow Facebook’s Community Standards (, focus on the product or service offered by the Page and be based on personal experience. Reviews that don’t follow these guidelines may be removed. If you feel that a review on your Facebook page does not meet this criteria then you can request that Facebook remove it by clicking the down arrow on the upper right corner of the review and selecting “I don’t like this review”, then follow the instructions. Keep in mind that you can only report star ratings that come with reviews and Facebook may determine that it meets their guidelines and leave the review up.


We personally are not huge fans of Yelp, and choose not to create Yelp pages for our clients. Yelp has been involved in some litigation based on their policies. But the real reason we do not set up our clients there is, once you have free listing on Yelp for your business, they tend to contact you often trying to get you to upgrade to a professional listing.

Like many other review sites, users can create a free profile on Yelp and then they can review any business that they want. Yelp uses an algorithm called their “Recommendation Software” which filters out reviews that THEY deem unhelpful based on the quality of the review, the reliability of the yelper and the yelper’s user activity. What this means is Yelp does not factor in all of the reviews you receive to determine your star rating (1-5 stars). Your rating is based only on the reviews that have been filtered through their software. However, at the bottom of your Yelp business page users can find a link that will bring them to ALL of your reviews, both filtered and unfiltered. Yelp values the reviews of “Elite Yelpers” more highly. These are people who review a lot of businesses and have a lot of “friends” (people who follow their reviews). The Recommendation Software is more likely to filter out reviews posted by first time reviewers who have a new profile or no history posting reviews. They are also looking for too many positive reviews or negative reviews posted to a business page (in an effort prevent small businesses from posting fake positive reviews to their on own profile or fake negative reviews on the profiles of their competitors). Yelp makes a point of saying that their Recommendation Software is fully automated and treats businesses that don’t advertise on the site the same as businesses that advertise.

If you receive negative reviews on Yelp you have almost no recourse. This is a little excerpt from their FAQ:

I’m not happy with what consumers are saying about me on Yelp – should I get my lawyer involved?

We have nothing but love and respect for lawyers (ahem), but you may want to consider the following. First, beware of the so-called Streisand Effect, which can quickly turn a manageable customer service problem into an unmanageable disaster. Lawyers love to draft threatening letters. However, far from being cowed, recipients will sometimes go public with them as a warning to others not to patronize your business. Second, beware of lawyers who are quick to file lawsuits without telling their clients that it can cost them dearly (see example here). Last, take a step back: if you find yourself insisting that a review is obviously untrue, there’s every reason to think that your customers will draw the same conclusion as you. Even if they don’t, Yelp’s review filter is always on the prowl, and it may be able to put enough pieces of the puzzle together over the long-term to filter out the bogus review.

For better or for worse, you can’t stop people from finding your Yelp profile (if one exists). However, you can take some action towards burying your Yelp profile in Google search results. The first step is to make sure your website is fully optimized. Keep it up to date…post new content…blog! The more you do this the higher Google will rank your content forcing your Yelp profile further down the page. As always, the team at Practice Treatment Plan can help you with this!

Angie’s List

This site is different from other review sites in that user’s pay a membership fee to read and post reviews. The site claims this is better than free review sites because user reviews are NOT anonymous, companies and providers are prevented from reporting on themselves AND they can interact with members and respond to reports so members “get the whole story”.

In addition to this, Angie’s List has a Complaint Resolution Team that will intercede on a member’s behalf if a “home repair or health experience goes bad”. What this means is if a patient finds you through Angie’s List (as a fee paying member) and they are unable to get you to respond to their complaint or issue, the Angie’s List Complaint Resolution Team will try to contact you on their behalf in an effort to resolve the issue. The resolution (or lack thereof) of this complaint can be posted in their magazine and online. If a provider fails to respond to the Complaint Resolution Team they are put in the “Penalty Box” where their name will appear in the magazine for three consecutive months and online indefinitely. If the provider does resolve the complaint with the Angie’s List member, Angie’s List will delete the negative report and give the member (your patient) the opportunity to replace it with a positive one. There are restrictions as to what kind of complaints the Complaint Resolution Team will accept. You can find more detailed information on it here

So there you have it. All of the most important information on the biggest review sites available to you and your patients. Remember that it is not enough to just set up your business profiles on these pages. You need to be monitoring your online reputation and responding to the good, the bad and the ugly all the time. If you need help with reputation monitoring, the team at Practice Treatment Plan can help! Call us at 888-412-8820!


Practice Success,

Benjamin Suggs
New Patient Marketing Strategist
Practice Treatment Plan, Inc.

How to handle bad reviews on Google (and elsewhere)

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How to handle bad reviews on Google (and elsewhere)

Welcome to Practice Treatment Plan’s Weekly New Patient Marketing Tips! Today’s tip is part four of a 5 part series in October all about Google Reviews. Here is a quick preview of what is coming up. For more information please call 888.412.8820 or email me at

Please note: based on your requests, we have provded links below to past articles.

Oct 1st: Importance of Google Reviews
Oct 8th: Three Ways to get Google Reviews
Oct 15th: Three MORE ways to get Google Reviews
TODAY: How to handle bad reviews
Oct 29th: What about other review sites?

Last week we gave you three MORE ways to get google reviews. This week, we will tackle the best way to deal with the dreaded negative reviews.

Even the best practices are bound to receive a less than stellar review every now and then. Do not let this deter you from creating your Google+ Business page! In general, people understand that businesses are going to receive a bad review from time to time. The truth is, bad reviews are manageable.

Tip #1. Get More Positive Reviews.

Yes, I know… Easier said than done. In fact, what motivates most practices to start gathering positive reviews is when they get a really negative one. But the most important thing to manage bad reviews is to have more positive reviews than negative ones. The positives will always drown out the negatives.

Tip #2. Respond to Negative Reviews.

There are two types of negative reviews your practice can receive: ones you deserve, and ones you do not. (We had a startup client once that received a negative review before he had even opened his doors and started seeing patients! Clearly, that was not one he deserved.) More often than not, the ones you do not deserve are based on a misunderstanding, that if explained can be rectified. Both types of reviews are worthy of response, and in responding you should follow these guidelines:

  • Be appreciative. What!? Are you crazy!? I am serious. Always start a response with something like “We appreciate your feedback and are very sorry that you did not enjoy your experience at our practice. We are continuously striving to improve our services for our patients.”
  • Be professional. The response should be from the practice, not one individual in the practice.
  • Be polite. No matter what types of accusations are being thrown at you, don’t get caught up in a verbal spat online.
  • Be positive. Focus on what you do well, and what your policies are that are beneficial to patients. Avoid typing things like “we didn’t” or “we never” and instead use language like “we always try to deliver exceptional service”.
  • Be firm. You do not have to be a pushover. If a patient (or someone else) is making a false accusation, you can refute it (but see “be positive” above). If someone is not even a patient of record, feel free to point that out.
  • Be sorry. This one comes with a caveat. You should only express this if you were wrong. Did a patient have to wait two hours? Then apologize and invite the patient to contact you to discuss offline.

Tip #3. Reach out.

Ignoring these issues will not make them go away. If you can identify the patient who left the review, reach out to them. If you feel you did nothing wrong, have a conversation and try to clear it up. If you you were in the wrong, then apologize to them. You will be shocked how quickly a detractor can become a promoter.

You could also offer a “make-good”. In the marketing business, a make-good is a special offer to make-good a bad service experience. Apologize, then offer them a $100 off future treatment at the practice.

Next week we will discuss other business review websites!

Practice Success,

Benjamin Suggs
New Patient Marketing Strategist
Practice Treatment Plan, Inc.