Will Orthodontist and Dent. Go Down a Tragic Road Fighting, or Come Together Again?
Updated: May 30, 2018
“There’s enough food on the table for everyone” (there may have been a um at the beginning or end,) Nonetheless they are words that are perhaps the most important words i’ve ever heard spoken being up there with “where your heart lies so shall your words” these words were spoken by my Professor teaching Marketing. Business is not like the bronx where it is a brawl, and you don’t need to make a campaign comparing or smearing another's product or service. The Burger King example of comparing; Burger King claimed it had better frys than McDonalds. This led to a campaign war that left Burger king not the winner, and at a great expense. The second offense in Marketing is you don’t smear your competition, it doesn’t look pretty, it rocks boats meaning you better be right in what you are saying, and even then other professionals and Patients may see it as bad taste, but most importantly is, it doesn’t work. Not working is pretty bad considering the money one can put into a campaign. That not only are you wasting money on comparing and smearing, you are doing it to the very ones that should be on your side, the Dentist. Given the history between Orthodontist and Dentist it is no wonder that both may see each other as enemies, however there is a higher road than taking out what seems like the problem is, and starts to deal with what the problems truly are. Blaming the Dentist for the fact you should not have to Market yourself, points the finger, and creates the Dentist as this black sheep. The truth is every business should be marketing themselves, or they will sink like the huge amount of others that failed and Orthodontist are no exception to this rule, as for how the Dentist treated Orthodontist by in some cases making the Orthodontist cater to them, yes was wrong, but it’s not worth destroying your business by smearing or starting a comparison campaign, the looking for blood comes off as not a positive to people, where as you can take that time and money to educate the Patient about what being an Orthodontist means. That just providing them relevant information will allow the Patient to come to the conclusion that there is something different about each profession. Talk about how Orthodontist deal with malocclusion as well as addressing an aesthetic look. That you as an Orthodontist also address the skeletal structure of the face when treated at the appropriate age. That proper treatment takes the time it takes, not because methods don’t or do allow for it, but now it is known that moving the teeth to much, to fast, damages the root, and leads to problems later in life. Given relevant information is something the patient will appreciate, as they are now more informed about which decisions to make in regarding when to go to a Dentist and when to see the you the Orthodontist.
Creating a working relationship between the Orthodontist and Dentist was a great move by the both, a mature move, but it also should have been the stepping stone that the Orthodontist used to market their business, and not relied upon. In other words you don’t put all your eggs into one basket. Not only does it take sometimes only one blow to crush your business, but it also looks oh so tempting seeing that Orthodontist with his big bag of treats relying mainly on word of mouth or recommendations from the Dentists, it became apparent to Dentist that if they could only get their foot in the door of Orthodontics, a goldmine awaited almost untouched by others, and what was the key that unlocked access, Marketing. It is important that Orthodontist understand that marketing breaks no ethics and in fact benefits the economy, as well as educates and makes aware to the, in this case patient, of not only treatments available, but also prices and other relevant information about which business they will ultimately use.
A Google search for how many Orthodontist there are comes back with 13,500 Orthodontist. There are 325.7 million People in the US 24.5 million are children ages 6-11 that's 1,814 patients per Orthodontist and following them, 23.2 million ages 0-5, as mentioned before there is enough food on the table for everyone, rather than compete and drown each other to survive, a lesson from no less ants who in the wake of a hurricane held onto each other, and formed themselves in a way that created a greater surface area, shows how working together can keep everyone afloat, where as tearing at each other's throat just leaves a bitter taste for everyone.
Yes the patient is the expert, or in this case the ones who have custody of the patient, as they are the ones who have final say so over who some say buy from, but I say, and it really is true, who they invest with. Shooting the Elephant in the room, have they or are they going to see a Dentist about the problem they are having? The name doesn’t matter leave it at yes or no. yes or no the right move is to educate again, don’t smear those who are in competition and refrain from comparing to your competition. Take this time to share what it means to see and receive treatment from an Orthodontist, that not only are the alignment of the teeth in a functional and cosmetically, or better put taking into account, and addressing that both form, and function must be dealt with, for if either is missing not only will the Patient not be happy, but damage may be done as well. An example would be doing what should be a 2 year treatment plan in 6 months, or an aesthetically appealing smile but not in occlusion. All these are dangers that an educated patient may not always be able to navigate, but they have a lot better of a chance of protecting themselves from harmful treatments. That going beyond the Smile and occlusion is that the structure of the face is taken into account giving symmetry to the Patient, especially a child who receives treatment at the time that you the Orthodontist know it is right, that an Orthodontist treatment plan will eventually lead to a higher self esteem, as let's face it, sometimes looks play a factor, and yes it is shallow of the world, but not for the patient who wants to witness life with less judgement, and outcasting, instead being on a level playing field, as again let's face it, the better looking person not only often gets the job in most areas of work, but also the higher pay. You are not selling them braces or retainer, you are selling them a life without Judgement or outcasting based on how their face looks, leading to a better quality of life to the patient. Finding a parent, guardian, or custodian of a child who does not want to have for their child a better quality of life, is far, and few.
In a previous posting called “Dentist Referrals a Thing of the Past, How Are Orthodontist to Go Forth?” I write a lot about ways to market your practice, while it does not go into details of what you say or put on paper, it does go over many various venues in which one may market themselves, and yes marketing consultant, or not you should be prepared to be able to write content about your business. You are the the one who knows your business most, such being true the business owner/owners Ads, public relations, answering your patients answers, as well as listening to what your patients want, and fulfilling those needs, are all part of marketing your practice well offline. The real truth is you can handle the majority of your marketing for today, and get a full time marketer when you are a fortune 500. if you see no other way but to have a consultant but cannot afford the $100 an hour or more, some Marketing Consultants do offer services on commission of about 5%-10%, of course it is the ones who have worked with a fortune 500 company deserving the 10%, and those that are green to the business of marketing, receiving 5%, and the rest being somewhere in between depending on what experience the Marketing Consultant does have. To me the 5%-10% commission not only insures that your Marketer must earn their bread and butter, it does not leave you with a huge bill, and no results, which comes by either the Marketing Consultant not doing their work, or the client of the consultant expects results to great to fast, much like some of your Patients expect treatment to be done in six months as they are not informed of the risks, and benefits of why it should be in this example a 2 year treatment. Unless you have the money to invest into contracting hourly over the next year or two, you won’t be happy with your results and where the 5%-10% commission agreement makes the most sense.
So what does a Marketing Consultant do? Some work on SEO working with your website designer in coming up with Meta Descriptions about your business, as well as Meta Titles (Meta are what you see on most businesses title and description in the search engines,) and each page your site has must have one to get all the SEO Power (some say juice) that comes from filling in the Meta title and description. The design or layout of your site would also be both Marketing Consultant and Website Designer working together to give the patient the best experience that can be given in today's world. You may ask how does one know what ones patients expectations are to create that perfect experience? It is a simple answer and an opportunity to add some authority and professionalism to your Practice, it doesn’t even involve getting your website to page one, or any SEO, though by consequence may with other factors boost your website Ranking, so what is it? It’s as simple as giving your patients a survey to fill out with relevant question that when learned will present what your demographics are, and why I mentioned in the Blog Posting linked to above, that Marketing is a science, and not a guessing game. The kicker is that you can put the survey in the initial paperwork given to the patient to fill out. So much easier than other businesses have it, and an opportunity you will not want to miss, as it tells you what you need to know about your patients. It will become your guide to finding new Patients whom need your help to face life with a chance to live without being judged or underpaid because they were born the way they are. If I had my choice between one who does SEO but not offline, and a Consultant that does offline but not SEO, almost every time I would pick the offline Consultant who tracks down, and initiates contact with your potential Patients. That given the data from the offline consultant which is got a lot easier than online surveys, will give you answers to how your online marketing should be done without all the guessing, instead you will have solid information on your demographics, allowing for less clicks wasted and more conversions. So what are you to say to your patient if not smearing Dentist reputation or comparing a Dentist to an Orthodontist. Knowing what their concern is, why they are looking for an Orthodontist is important as it allows you to cater to the needs of your patients. Again Educate your patient or the parents, guardians, custodian what you can do. That a creating an aesthetic smile is not your only concern, there is what goes around the smile, the occlusion and more, that this is a decision that affects the Patient for the rest of their lives and what Orthodontist specialize in, giving the patient not only their best smile, but under the right conditions symmetry to some of the face can be obtained, and that symmetry is just as important as the best smile in perfect occlusion to the Patient, you just have to look at Ads done by the big companies to know symmetry plays a huge role in what others find appealing, or, yes again a shallow world, attractive.
How to get back on track with Dentist and Orthodontist working together, is not only to establish relations with Dentist for referrals, but to Market in a way that does not put your eggs into one basket, especially a basket that is in the hands of another and not your own. That the Dentist see that they are not the main power house of your marketing but a cog, just as you are to them, in the Marketing Machine. That you the Orthodontist by choice are co-marketing with the Dentist, that both benefit when Dentist and Orthodontist work in harmony giving the patient the treatment they deserve, and not treatment that is dictated by the Dentist or Orthodontist by one ordering the other around about how they should do their treatment, but where the Dentist, and Orthodontist come together to both give the treatments that they specialize in (where I’m going with that is, one who does braces and retainer adjustments all day long is by reason of practice makes perfect, or at least close to perfect, will usually be better at something that another does every once in a while, just as the Dentist case would be Fillings, crowns and so on, the repetitiveness of either profession is continually honing their skills in the Services or products they offer most.
So what does this all boil down to? Simply put, and yes the truth is harsh, is to show Dentist you are no longer prey, but an authoritative figures in the Market, who, truth be told Dentist referrals may just be the cherry on top of a mountain of marketing. That the main reason to work together is not to keep your Practice afloat, but to offer patients the best in medical care that they can get, instead of ripping each other’s throats out, all that time could be invested into marketing your company and not leaving the Patient victim to politics. The silver lining in all this is that Orthodontist are finally marketing themselves, if steered right by you the Orthodontist one’s earnings may be far beyond that of the old way of relying on Dentist for referrals. Where one instead implements more methods of marketing one’s self instead of just the cherry on top that both Orthodontist and Dentist are for each other. What both Orthodontist and Dentist have to face is that the Sundae isn’t a sundae without the cherry, that both acting in the way they are Orthodontist trying to police Dentist, and Dentist doing Orthodontic work, keeps both professions from shining to their fullest potential and worse of all leaves the patient with treatment that potentially is harmful to them. So take the Higher road start a full on Marketing Campaign, just as any other business needs if it plans to survive, and not close. Show Dentist you can survive without them, but there is a huge potential being thrown away by not working together, and that is a happy patient, leaving both Physicians the Orthodontist, and Dentist in a less stressful environment where both are winners.