Sunday, April 26

Q & A: How to evaluate your success

Every so often, someone will email me a question or two about dental marketing, and the result is (what I consider) a very interesting and informative discussion.  Following is one such dialog, about tracking your marketing effectiveness:

Hi Nancy,
On the September Trojan Newsletter 2008, you mentioned to evaluate if a marketing piece is successful or fail.  What criteria do you use to determine that?  Thank you for your time.

Hi there, Dr. Kar -- thanks for emailing your questions.  

No marketing plan ever fails, because we're all always marketing, all of the time, whether we've planned it or not.  And if your still in business, your marketing is not a failure.   The question is whether your marketing is representative of you and your vision, and whether it is helping or hindering the achievement of your goals.

What you want, and what my 10 Points are trying to get you to do, is make sure that the marketing message within each of the above mentioned tools/methods is consistent and repeteive to your vision.  In other words, start from the beginning of the 10 Points, formulate your plan, implement it, then evaluate the overall effectiveness

There are two types of evaluation that need to happen with a marketing plan.  One is the effectiveness of the overall plan, and the second is the effectiveness of a particular method.  

Trying to gauge the effectiveness of specific marketing pieces, or tools, within the plan, becomes too detailed.  This is because most new patients are exposed to more than one method, and therefore more than one tool.  

For example, a patient of record may recommend you to a friend, perhaps even giving that friend your business or referral card (an internal marketing tool) which of course has your website listed on it.  That patient may type your name into Google instead of simply typing in your web address to check you out, in which case they've employed SEO.  Then, they visit your virtual office, which is both a tool and a method, in fact the most important all-encompassing method you can employ to put that person at ease and help them decide if they'll be comfortable with you and in your practice (after all , at least 50% of people are dental phobes, and the safe and anonymous access to you through your website is invaluable to them in making the decision to get the care they need).  

Then, they call the front office to make an appointment (also a tool - their experience with your front office is a huge part of your marketing).  This new patient may even download or receive in the mail your new patient package/forms (another tool), or a smile brochure.  Finally, they walk in the door for the final marketing hit -- the interior design and overall feel of the practice.

In this very typical and simple example, this new patient will have had several exposures with you and your practice, making the task of evaluating specific tools too narrow in our understanding of your marketing plan's success.  But also driving home the importance of keeping each method/tool consistent to your basic marketing message -- your vision and the branding of your vision.  If you are not consistent, you are confusing, and you lose them along the way to your front door.

That said, the way to know how a plan has worked is to keep track of every new patient coming into the practice, how they generally found you, and then how much production they bring into the practice over a specified period of time (1 year, for example).  The two numbers we're looking for, over time, is how much you spent to get each new patient in the door, and then how much each new patient is worth to the practice.  This gives you the ROI on your marketing dollars.

When you have a couple of years of data, you can go further with this evaluation by tracking each marketing Method by your case acceptance rate, giving you the ROI on your time.

For example, a particular client of mine in a metropolitan area with a high-end cosmetic and general practice, was in love with SEO (Search Engine Optomization), both pay-per-click and organically coded.  He spent thousands and thousands of dollars on SEO.  And as far as he was concerned it was the greatest thing since the business card, because he'd get high numbers of patients calling in and coming in.  But, when I went in a looked at the case acceptance rate on the patients brought in through SEO/Website, we found he closed only about 25%.  When I analyzed the patients brought into the practice through outside professional referrals, his rate was closer to 75%.  That's a huge difference, considering the time he spent on cosmetic consultations.  But even more so --- those professional referrals (another great Internal Marketing Method) were FREE!

So when I'm analyzing effectiveness, I want to see that the least amount of time and energy was spent to create the most profit for the practice, in a way that is in line with the vision and goals of the practice. 

To download your own free 10 Points Workbook, simply visit my website at

Monday, April 20


Creating a website is almost exactly like building a house from the ground up -- and sometimes, it is almost as exhausting, frustrating and time consuming.

But I am so excited to announce that my updated website is ready to go live tomorrow, with all (and only) my favorite client designs in the huge new portfolio, my old-school articles (back by popular demand) and a new and easy to understand pricing structure!

Tell me what you think!