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Hygiene Tribune

Do you have general comments or criti- cism you would like to share? Is there a particular topic you would like to see articles about in Hygiene Tribune? Let us know by e-mailing feedback@dental- We look forward to hearing from you! If you would like to make any change to your subscription (name, address or to opt out) please send us an e-mail at and be sure to include which publication you are referring to. Also, please note that sub- scription changes can take up to 6 weeks to process. Tell us what you think! HYGIENE TRIBUNE The World’s Dental Hygiene Newspaper · U. S. Edition Practice Matters HYGIENE TRIBUNE | August/september 20112C Publisher & Chairman Torsten Oemus Chief Operating Officer Eric Seid Group Editor & Designer Robin Goodman Managing Editor/Designer Implant, Endo & Lab Tribunes Sierra Rendon Managing Editor/Designer Ortho Tribune & Show Dailies Kristine Colker Online Editor Fred Michmershuizen f.michmershuizen@dental-tribune. com Account Manager Mark Eisen Marketing Manager Anna Wlodarczyk Sales & Marketing Assistant Lorrie Young C.E. Manager Julia E. Wehkamp C.E. International Sales Manager Christiane Ferret Dental Tribune America, LLC 116 West 23rd Street, Suite 500 New York, NY 10011 Tel.: (212) 244-7181 Fax: (212) 244-7185 Published by Dental Tribune America © 2011 Dental Tribune America, LLC All rights reserved. Hygiene Tribune strives to maintain utmost accuracy in its news and clinical reports. If you find a factual error or content that requires clarification, please contact Group Editor Robin Goodman at Hygiene Tribune cannot assume responsibility for the validity of product claims or for typographical errors. The publisher also does not assume responsibility for product names or statements made by advertisers. Opinions expressed by authors are their own and may not reflect those of Dental Tribune America. Permission marketing “Permission marketing is the privi- lege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”2 You’ll be amazed at how much easier and fulfilling it is to talk with someone who is “warmly interested.” You won’t con- vert everyone and you don’t need everyone. Why not cultivate real relation- ships with your would-be and exist- ing patients? Build your tribe and make an effort to genuinely connect to your patients. As this applies to the dental office, be genuine, you won’t convert everyone to be a life-long flosser, however, there are patients who will be receptive to your message. This is the recognition of the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention. You can convert previously disinterested patients by connecting to them from a unique perspective You can use marketing to cul- tivate and grow relationships, but there are some important guidelines to follow. Electronically, don’t send out “spam” because it won’t be read, and don’t info dump because it won’t be digested. In order to get permission, you make a promise. You say, “I will do X, Y and Z. I hope you will give me permission by listening.” Next is the hard part: that’s all you do. You don’t assume you can do more. An exam- ple in the dental office is sharing an article on a specific procedure or product a patient is interested in learning more about. You don’t sell the list or send spam to a patient’s e-mail. This is disingenuous sales practice that is used for self-advancement, regard- less of how it works for the patient. Patients are quick to detect and judge someone as insincere, so do everything possible to avoid coming across this way. “Real permission works like this: If you stop showing up, people com- plain, they ask where you went.”3 The point is, you want to establish such a positive relationship with your patients that they miss you when you’re gone. Permission marketing vs. interruption marketing It all funnels into the same idea: Create a stronger emotional connec- tion with existing patients and you will turn them into loyal advocates. Not only is this more fun, it’s much more profitable. Selling to someone who knows, trusts and likes you takes fewer resources than selling to strangers. I came across some best practices that distill this concept down to concepts that are applicable on a daily basis. No. 1: Be in the groove Be open minded to the ideas and opinions of others. Ideas come from all kinds of sources and being open and non-judgmental are key to expanding your creativity in the workplace. It may be a challenge to pitch your idea to the dentist. Some of that may be your mindset. Coming at something from the perspective of the other person is a great way to persuasively anticipate his or her objections and move forward to bet- ter, more enjoyable job performance from everyone. Finally, “be a prod- uct of the product,” which means you need to believe in the message you are delivering. Be real. No. 2: Make marketing a conversation Any marketing for a dental practice should be part of a conversation, but don’t take yourself too seriously. In other words, skip the hard sell, or any sell, when using social media tools to interact with your commu- nity. Make your website consumer friendly and human. So, connect and join by all means, then make it meaningful. No. 3: Make your product your marketing Make your office a place people look forward to coming to. OK, maybe they just look forward to seeing you. That’s how much power we all have in this. What are the ways to make your product or service interesting enough for people to talk about to others? Being remarkable is being interesting enough that someone is remarking about you. This is the best kind of marketing, word of mouth. In a positive light it is effec- tive and free! For example, how about giving every patient who visits your prac- tice three-referral coupons to give to friends and family for a discounted exam? The patient’s name is writ- ten on the coupon so that when it is redeemed, the patient gets a $25 credit to her account for her next visit to the practice. This patient is likely going to be eager to share these referral coupons, and may even share the fact that she has them on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. No. 4: Empower your customer If you empower your patient, more often than not, the benefits outweigh the risks. Include your community in certain aspects of your business. Maybe people in the community could submit ideas for the design of a new office logo. After community members cri- tique it and vote on it, many may become new (and likely very loyal) patients. As a result, they have a vested interest and a sense of own- ership in what the practice does. Use your imagination and extrapolate to fit your business. There is likely some aspect that patients could have input in creating. No. 5: Act human Authenticity is non-negotiable for anyone selling anything, be it a pair of shoes or a tooth whitening procedure. It’s about treating your patients as you’d want to be treated. Employees should speak to patients in a voice that is truly theirs, but also represents the company. Engage the community Turn your patients into a commu- nity and engage them to partici- pate in many aspects of your office’s operations, including product and service development. For example, you could conduct an online survey asking which days patients would prefer that you have earlier or later office hours. Involving patients in this change will carry two transfor- mational benefits. First, the quality of your under- standing of your patients’ needs and expectations will increase exponen- tially. Second, patients will change how they view your dental practice. They will shift from viewing you as a “supplier” of products/services to a practice that offers relevance, personality and even friends with whom they choose to communicate over time. This sets you and your staff clearly on the path of relation- ship marketing. References 1. Wikipedia, www.en.wikipedia. o r g / w i k i / R e l a t i o n s h i p _ marketing. 2. Seth Godin’s Blog, www. blog/2008/01/permission-mark. html. 3. Ibid. f HT page 1C About the author Bridget Conway, RDH, BA, lives in Camden, Maine. She has been a featured speaker at the ADHA and other hygiene associ- ation meetings and has had sev- eral articles published. Conway has held positions in sales and education as well. Currently she works on the business side of dentistry for a corporation. You may contact her at bridgetrdh@