When I first walked into Dr. Helaine Smith’s dental office in Boston, Massachusetts four years ago, I was immediately struck by the fact that it didn’t smell like a dental office.
Dr. Smith’s waiting room didn’t look like your typical dentist office either: original oil paintings adorned the walls, a waterfall soothed the senses, and fresh flowers perfumed the air. When patients arrived, Mary, Dr. Smith’s receptionist, offered them sparkling water and fresh fruit.
What I loved best of all, however, was Dr. Smith’s sunlit exam room – airy, gorgeous, and immaculate, it instantly made me feel relaxed. I itched to sit in her buttery leather exam chair.
Dr. Smith’s approach toward dentistry is also apparent in how she treats patients: in addition to offering high-end cosmetic dentistry based on advanced techniques – everything from dental veneers and implants to full mouth rehabilitative work – she also leaves her cell phone number on the office voice mail so that patients can call her after hours if the need arises.
She’s also spent years taking advanced continuing education courses – and in fact, is currently working on her Academy of General Dentistry Mastership.
When we first began working together in 2005, Dr. Smith wanted to increase traffic to her Website. Although she had no idea what search engine optimization was, or how it worked, she did know people were online searching for dentists.
“The TV show Extreme Makeover is huge,” I remember her saying. “We need to take advantage of it.” She was right – a simple keyword search proved thousands of people were online searching for dentists like her.
Thus began our journey together . . . and what follows are the five reasons why Dr. Smith went from being a great dentist to a million dollar dentist – in just four years.
1. She consistently budgeted for marketing: Marketing is like saving money – you don’t really see results unless you save money consistently month after month. Although it’s tempting to cut back on marketing when business is down, money is tight, or the entire economy is crashing, these are the very times you need to spend money on marketing, which is what Dr. Smith did, month in and month out.
2. She had patience: When I initially optimized her site and added new content, we did see an increase in traffic, but the phone didn’t start ringing off the hook immediately. Instead of giving up, however, Dr. Smith asked, “What else can we do?”
As we added more content to the site and increased Dr. Smith’s exposure online, the phone started ringing. Today, Dr. Smith sees $5K to $20K in new business each month from the Web.
3. She was willing to try new things: Do you know of any podcasting dentists? I hadn’t either, but that didn’t stop Dr. Smith from trying this marketing tactic. She also gave the OK for a blog, an e-newsletter, press releases, bylined articles, YouTube videos, and a very edgy viral e-book.
We weren’t sure if any of these things would work for a dentist, but we tried them anyway. As Dr. Smith added this new content to her site, a funny thing happened. New patients would call for appointments, and when they came in, they would say something like, “I found you on Google. I read your credentials and watched your YouTube videos.”
Dr. Smith’s expanding Website and online “fame” did three things for her: it helped patients pre-qualify themselves, it sold them on her dental services, and it explained why she was different from other dentists – all before they stepped foot in her office!
4. She learned the “new rules of marketing”: Dr. Smith had already learned that spending big money on things like yellow pages advertising, TV commercials, and radio advertising produced little in the way of results.
She began reading books and articles about all this “Web stuff” so that when I recommended a particular tactic, she understood why I was recommending it. Having her understand “Web 2.0” concepts allowed me to implement new ideas – fast – without a lot of hemming and hawing.
And that edgy e-book? Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex! is a featured Rave in best selling author David Meerman Scott’s new book, World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers That Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories (Wiley, 2009).
5. She provided exceptional care to her patients: All the marketing in the world won’t make up for poor service or a lousy product. Dr. Smith made sure she lived up to the promises made on her Website and other marketing materials by providing the ultimate in dental care and customer service to her patients. In addition to the increased patient load at her Boston practice, Dr. Smith now owns a family dental practice in Dedham, MA.
I’m very proud to have Dr. Smith as my client . . . and we are both thrilled with her success. She’s thrilled because she hit her goal. I’m thrilled because I helped her get there. Thank you, Helaine, for your continued trust in me. You are the best!