You’ve probably never heard of Joshua Bell. Don’t worry, you’re not alone; a busy subway station full of morning commuters in Washington, D.C. didn’t know who he was either. The story, which has a powerful message for dentists on the importance of branding your practice, goes like this:
On the morning of January 12th, 2007, Joshua Bell picked up his very old violin, backed up to a concrete wall in the L’Enfant Plaza Metro subway station in Washington, DC and began to play. It was morning and the subway station had nearly a thousand people rushing in and out of the passing cars on their way to work. Clearly, they were in a rush. Joshua played 6 Bach pieces for about 45 minutes, collected $32.17 in tips and received even less recognition.
What the busy commuters didn’t know was they were hearing one of the most celebrated violin virtuosos of our time and had played a sold out, $100 per seat show in Boston just the night before. What’s more, is that old violin he was playing so beautifully, was a 1713 Antonius Stradivarius violin, which Bell paid $4 million to own. Everyone in that subway station was listening to arguably the best violinist in the world, but because they weren’t educated about his talent, no one noticed.
So, if a talented violinist plays beautifully, but nobody listens, is he still talented? The lesson for you, the dentist, translates to… “If a dentist is the best clinically, but nobody can find you to book an appointment, do your clinical skills matter? Of course they do, but if you have nobody to treat, they go unused. You see our point. The marketing message in all of this is that unless you want to settle for low patient flow (ie – just $32.17 in tips), your dental expertise and skill, while very important, just aren’t enough to give you the successful, thriving practice you really want.
Research shows that people need social proof to believe something is good or worthwhile of their time. In the case of the violinist, nobody told the busy commuters just how special Joshua Bell was, so they ignored him. For a dentist, your clinical expertise is certainly enough proof to your peers, but for the process of attracting new patients, social proof means having a website that ranks on the first page of a Google search and positive reviews and recommendations on Yelp and other popular review websites. If they can’t find you or don’t know about you, your dental skills are unused and underappreciated, just like Joshua Bell.
Fortunately, all it takes is some marketing effort to boost public awareness of your stellar clinical skills. You simply need to brand your practice. To start, here are three key marketing questions to ask:
Are you visible online?
If you want new patients, you absolutely need to have a dental website that appeals to both your referral sources and potential patients. Because 95% of people search for local information on their smart phones, it’s best if your website is responsive so it can be viewed easily on any device. Visitors want to see quality photos of you and your staff, read about your services and make an appointment easily by clicking on a clear call-to-action. Your website is the virtual front door to your practice, so it’s important it leaves a good impression and is easy to find in a Google search.
Can potential patients find you?
A great dental website is only good if people actually see it, right? That’s why it’s so important that your site comes up first when potential patients search for a dentist in your area. This is true for a couple of reasons; according to studies, consumers associate search engine position (rank) with a company’s leadership in its field. Additionally, 89% of people never even look to see what is beyond page one. Effective search engine optimization (SEO) takes a considerable amount of marketing work, but if done right, it can do wonders for the successful branding of your practice. If you want to quickly get your website to come up on the first page of Google searches, you also might want to consider a pay-per-click campaign.
When they do find you, do they like what they see?
Reputation Management is the key to building social proof among people searching for a dentist or dental specialist. Why? 84% of Americans say online customer reviews have an influence on their decision to purchase a product or service, and that includes whether or not they book an appointment with you. The truth is, even if they find you via referral (another source of social proof), research shows they will still likely Google you before they make an appointment. You can brand your practice by making sure you keep on top of what is said about you online, ask for positive reviews from your best patients and control as much content on the first few pages of a Google search.
By taking a few steps to proactively brand your practice, you can be sure that your clinical expertise will never go unused or underappreciated. As for Joshua Bell, he returned to playing sold out shows in the world’s largest concert halls, where his brand is certainly well known.
Photo Credit: JoshuaBell.com/Photos