New Horizons

In the first of a new series, Toks Oyegunle explores how applying a simple yet effective marketing framework to your practice can help it thrive
Have you ever wondered how some dental practices always seem to naturally thrive? How do they manage to constantly grow their business and attract the best clients?
If you want to have a thriving dental practice with a constant stream of profitable clients showing up regularly, you need to dramatically improve your practice marketing — and this is where this series of articles comes in. The goal is simple: to help you increase the profitability of your practice using a proven marketing framework that is easy to understand and apply to your practice.
To get maximum benefit from this series, I would advise you use a journal to write your thoughts and answers to the questions that will come up about your practice over this series.
The magic number
I recommend an approach that I call the “triple M” marketing framework. This is a simple but extremely effective tool that helps us to simplify, understand, and apply the fundamental principles of “thriving dental practice marketing.”
The framework involves initially identifying the right market and then crafting and communicating the right message to the right market using the right media and methods — effectively, efficiently, and profitably.
Who really represents your perfect target market? If we are unclear what we are aiming for, it will be difficult to hit the target. Have you analyzed your patient database to understand how many of them are perfect, as opposed to average or bad patients?
A very helpful exercise is to develop what I call your “perfect patient avatar.” This is a detailed description of who you believe your perfect patient should be. You will need to consider the demographic aspects and also the psychographic aspects here. If you haven’t done this before, or you simply haven’t reviewed yours in a while, then these coming articles will explain who your perfect patients should be — and more importantly, what goes into making them your perfect patients.
What marketing message are you communicating to your target market? This can be tricky because, if you are not clear who your perfect patient is, it is possible that you may be saying the right thing to the wrong person, or even worse, the wrong thing to the wrong person.
What is your unique selling point (USP)? Are you a general dentist that really should be a specialist or a specialist that happens to be in the wrong niche? For your practice to really thrive, you must use your marketing message to attract the perfect patients — and repel the wrong ones!
What media choices are you using to communicate your marketing message to your target market? Are you clear on why you use each one? Your media choice should be based on a detailed understanding of who represents your target market.
This understanding helps you to know what media these perfect patients use so you can target them effectively. For example, traditionally, many dentists would advertise in the Yellow Pages or similar directories religiously, but their perfect patients may actually be avid readers of the Financial Times, meaning they can probably be reached more effectively through these alternative media choices.
How profitable is your dental practice now? You should already know how profitable your practice is. If not, a quick look at your books or call to your accountant will tell you. Get the exact number, and write it down in your journal: It really is the best indication of the effectiveness of your current marketing efforts.
How profitable do you want your dental practice to be? Knowing how profitable you want your practice to be in future is a more challenging question, as it is currently a desire, a goal that you must set for yourself now, and work toward achieving over a period of time. I would strongly urge you to consider the following: If there were no limitations to your potential, what would the ideal profit from your practice be? Think about this question, and come up with a figure. Remember that your desired practice profit goal must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). An example you may find helpful while developing your desired profit may be: “I, Dr. Smith, will increase the profit of Smiles by Smith by 25% within the next 12 months.”
Getting from A to B
For some dentists, the answer to both questions will be the same or very similar. If this is true for you, then I must congratulate you. You are already at the peak of your desired financial success, at least from your practice anyway. For others, however, there will be a gap between your answers. Your answer to the first question tells you where you currently are — let’s call this point A. Yet your answer to the second tells you where you really want to be — let’s call this point B.
Now you have a journey to get from point A to B. There are two ways to do this: increase your revenue and/or reduce your costs. My goal is to empower you with the knowledge, tips, and strategies that will help you on this journey by increasing your revenue by improving your marketing.
Over the course of the month, think about the following questions, as they will focus your attention on the areas that need improvement in order to achieve the profitability you desire:

  1. What target market do you attract and why?
  2. What marketing message do you communicate?
  3. What media do you use to communicate to the market?

Your answers will help you to review what your current marketing efforts are and, more importantly, how effective they have been.

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