20% of America’s population will only go to the dentist under dire circumstances, due to crippling anxiety. Whether stateside or abroad, dentists have an uphill battle in perception. The vulnerability of a guarded orifice (mouth), coupled with needles, drills, loud noises, and a “cold” atmosphere, attracting new prospects to sit in the chair is a daunting task. Dentist practices are tasked with a unique challenge. While other businesses simply need to reach their target market, dentists have to overcome multiple objections along the path to a new patient. Emotions impact buying decisions. If a person knows they need a dentist, but had a negative past experience elsewhere, the barrier to entrance is raised significantly, sometimes to an insurmountable level. Factor in cost, and choosing a dentist becomes an amalgam of emotions, mainly apprehension in making the wrong decision.

Patient Care is Only Half the Battle

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There is no substitute for treating patients with respect, love, and care. Performing quality dental care is the foundation of any practice and a prerequisite to growth, however, there is another facet to earning new patients – traffic. Whether real life or virtual traffic, patients are seeking out a new dentist, the question is, who will they find? Search engines have disrupted traditional media channels, Google earning the lion’s share of digital traffic. The first few results in Google enjoy the spoils of victory with the #1 result receiving over 33% traffic. Just as a prime real estate with high volume foot traffic is valuable, the same principle applies to one’s virtual footprint. This was the major problem by Pat Crawford DDS. He was a successful dentist and was paying for call-center services and marketing through Yellow Pages. His son, Charles Crawford had been studying internet marketing for years and showed his father exactly how he could help grow his practice using the same budget. Instead of getting 5 new patients a month on average, Charles did something incredible. He literally 10x his father’s business, through traffic. However, all the traffic in the world is meaningless if it’s not targeted and converting.

Website Traffic and Phone Isn’t Ringing…

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The point of a digital presence is not to inflate your website traffic stats. As a dentist business owner, you don’t need everyone to view your website, you need the right person at the right time. One of the unique tactics Charles Crawford has implemented is the ability to know exactly how a prospect found your website (source and keyword), as well as the time of day. With a set of dynamic phone numbers, his agency has transformed the common marketing quote “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker, into an antiquated, lazy view of analytics. When Charles began to study his existing website, a digital first impression new patients see, he noticed it could be greatly enhanced. Remember, dentists are naturally scary to the public, so overcoming fears or inertia requires establishing credibility, trust, rapport, knowing, professionalism, and calls to action. Using latest web technologies and a custom design, Charles transformed the outdated website into a business asset, and the phones began to ring, a lot. Contact forms were also being filled out showing new patient sincerity, and questions related to their particular concerns, healthcare or budget. Word of mouth has been usurped by internet reviews, as they live on in infamy, exponentially increasing value to dentist practices. A concerted effort was put in place by Charles to obtain reviews from patients, resolve any issues (before a rant becomes public on the web), and promote the brand across quality websites, blogs, press, directories, youtube and relevant channels. This one simple video showcasing the office of Pat Crawford resulted in 10% increase in conversion rate by itself, and lead to thousands of views:

Promotion in a Virtual Sea of Competition

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Google correctly prognosticated the power of popularity, seen by its quondam name, Back Rub. While professional web design and technical SEO are vital for user experience and relevancy, the missing piece is promotion. If a city has 3, 5, or even 20 dentists, how do the search engines decide who is the best? This hypothetical scenario gives a glimpse into the mind’s eye of the computer algorithm, revealing the truth – dentists who abdicate their digital presence to hope or chance, concede defeat. Dentists have the unique opportunity to leverage a larger budget, as ROI is simply greater than selling ice cream, or other low-end goods and services. This has given rise to hyper-competitive tactics, budgets, and marketing plans. However, working smarter, and maximizing ad spend has given the young agency an advantage over bloated competitors who churn and burn clients. Dentists are intelligent and understand when something is working or isn’t. In full transparency, the agency goes over deliverables, costs, and expectations to ensure the promise of a successful campaign is met, as seen with Dr. Gary Ellenbogen’s video testimonial.

Many Hands Make Light Work: Sweat Equity

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(left: Charles Crawford right: Michael O’Brien)

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face” – Mike Tyson.

Dentists who attempt to compete against competition with a low budget or without a team of experts is going to be virtually punched in the website, receiving the scraps (low quality leads) from the winners. Marketing agencies and DIY projects often involve lofty goals and little to no action plan of attack. As young entrepreneurs, Charles and Michael O’Brien have been involved with web design since their teenage years. Michael leans on his vast network of connections to ensure maximum press exposure is given to each dental client, and the overall game plan is executed to perfection. With a track record of success, he and Charles have built a high-end clientele of dentists tired of losing to their competition under the  agency name Crawford and O’Brien. To request Charles for a speaking engagement such as the Dental Success Summit in 2015 or enter the waiting list for a dental consultation, visit their official website.

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.