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Lifecycle Marketing in dentistry

31 July 2015

Lifecycle Marketing in dentistry

You had better get used to the idea that the landscape for marketing in your practice has changed forever. Listening to clients across the UK and Ireland I’ve heard 7 main symptoms that illustrate the need for a re-think.

  1. “We don’t have enough new implant patients each month to sustain the cost of our existing marketing activities
  2. “We are not earning enough implant revenue from our existing patients through our recall and reminder systems
  3. “What we have been spending on implant marketing is producing diminishing returns and it seems as if we are going to have to throw more and more money at the problem
  4. “Our traditional implant marketing activities simply aren’t working any more
  5. “There seems to be a lot more competition out there for implant business
  6. “Our conversion rate for implant enquiries to consults and treatment plans converted to sales is going steadily down
  7. “Our tracking systems are either ineffective or broken and we cannot measure the return on investment from implant marketing activities - so we don’t know what to invest in next"

Given the above feedback from dentists, it became necessary to take a global look at the dental marketing world to see if British dentists were missing any evolution in thinking and practice.

It wasn’t long before the subject of “Lifecycle Marketing” appeared in Google searches and so I had to dig deeper. Lifecycle Marketing is a child not just of the internet but of what marketing philosopher and guru Seth Godin calls “the connected economy”. Before I get into an explanation, I want to share a brief personal story from late 2013 that begins to explain a change that effects us all.

A dentist called me to say that he had decided to retire from clinical practice and ownership in his mid-50’s, due to ill-health, on the advice of his doctor and the insistence of his wife. The request was for advice on the sale - he wanted me to be a sounding board and second opinion which, after years of involvement at both ends of the acquisition chain, I was happy so to do.

A meeting date was agreed and just before our conversation ended he said something that really made me think:

“you know, I first heard you speak on a Restorative Course in 1996.

I’ve followed your stuff since then and decided it was time now to call you in.

In this case “my stuff” was a combination of conference speeches, newsletters, blog posts, social media updates, books and magazine articles that spanned a 17-year period.

17 years to close a sale must be a record? I then reflected that many new clients tell me a similar story about “following my stuff”, albeit perhaps not so tenaciously as this gentleman. So he called (and this is important) WHEN HE WAS READY.

He was ready when he experienced a “trigger event” in his life - failing health and a loving spouse combining to force an unwelcome decision on which he knew he required help. He didn’t want to discuss the price of my visit or shop around business coaches (even though I am relatively expensive) because he valued my experience and HE KNEW ME even though I didn’t know him.

The moment of truth for me:

“that’s what they all say when they contact me

So I have inadvertently been nurturing relationships with many people over many years, simply by broadcasting continuously. What exactly was the “stuff” that he had been following all those years? Was it endless advertising initiatives and special offers? Or have I spent all those years STORYTELLING about the people I have met and worked with?

So here are some important rules to understand before we return to Lifecycle Marketing

  • product placement (we do x) is ADVERTISING and storytelling (Mary is now looking forward to her daughter’s wedding because she will smile with confidence after receiving x treatment from us) is MARKETING
  • advertising rarely evokes emotion
  • good marketing frequently evokes emotion
  • people will contact you when they experience a trigger event in their lives
  • you have to keep yourself in their minds for up to 17 years and wait patiently
  • the more people you keep in touch with, the more likely that someone will trigger this week, month, year
  • if they already feel as if they know you, the right people are less likely to shop around

So, what is Lifecycle Marketing and how does it affect your approach to marketing?

Lifecycle Marketing is a 7-step process that is designed to boost your new business conversion rate and your overall sales performance by 400%!

That is a bold, outrageous and provocative claim.

The first time I heard it, my reaction was “yeah right” (with a cynical expression) but the more I’ve looked into it and seen the results obtained by dental practices who already clued in, the more I see the possibility that the claim may be true.

Let’s take a quick walk through the 7-step Lifecycle Marketing process.

  1. Attract potential new patients to your web and social sites through digital marketing, social content creation, advertising and networking;
  2. Capture the email addresses of those visitors (with permission to keep them alerted) by exchanging that data for educational and informative white papers;
  3. Nurture the relationship, initially during their period of initial interest with a series of automated emails, then for years afterward using automated email newsletters;
  4. Convert them from prospects into patients with excellent telephony and treatment coordination and treatment planning/presentation;
  5. Deliver excellent clinical dentistry and a remark-able customer service experience;
  6. Up-sell further products and services to them over the lifetime of your relationship;
  7. Be referable and encourage testimonial letters and videos plus sharing of patient stories across social media channels.

All of which presuppose your acceptance of the following hard truths (test yourself against this list):

  • Your marketing success is heavily dependent on your internet-based marketing activity;
  • Social media (especially Facebook) is an important place to be visible and active;
  • Enough of the right type of implant patients have access to the web and use either a PC, tablet or smartphone (irrelevant of your post code);
  • You are telling plenty of stories as well as advertising what you do;
  • There are people in your dental team who “get”this and are prepared to invest their time to help you;
  • You have the correct external consultants to do the things you just cannot technically do yourself;
  • You are investing 5% of your total annual sales into all advertising and marketing activity

Given the above assumptions, there is a step by step process by which Lifecycle Marketing can be implemented into your marketing development plans.

I promise that you won’t have to wait 17 years for “the call”!

Recognising that all clients are not the same, at 7connections we offer a range of products and services that allow clients to take advantage of Lifecycle Marketing on terms that will fit their budget.

From the small, single-owner location to the multi-surgery, through multi-disciplinary referral practice and on to the micro-corporate, we are happy to invest time in listening to your circumstances and your vision, then explaining how Lifecycle Marketing can help to keep you ahead of the marketing curve.

To find out more about Chris Barrow, and the services he and his team at 7Connections can offer your practice, please click here: 



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