Been there, seen that.
Think about where your website’s photos came from. Hopefully you can recall their origin. They probably came from somewhere on the internet, a website specializing in stock photos perhaps? Do you know who uploaded that picture? Do you know how many other companies have used that exact same image? Probably not. And if you did, you probably wouldn’t be using it.
Don’t get us wrong; the occasional stock photo is great. They often come through in a pinch, they’re readily available, and most alluringly, they are easy.
Unfortunately though, that probably wouldn’t be something you would like to admit to your customers. Additionally, it may be sure fire way to lose a customer. Your customers probably compare your company’s website and products to others in the same industry. What if a potential customer found you to be using the same stock photos as competitor? Not the best way to separate yourself from the pack.
We highly recommend you invest in custom photographs.
Spend the extra bit of time and effort on custom photography. You’ll get the reward of the exact photo you had in mind, and it’s safer advertising. A lucrative benefit of custom photography is the ability to showcase your exact product. The danger of stock photography is not only advertising the exact same “Band-Aid,” but not advertising as attractively or accurately as possible. Show exactly what you have, when you have it, and customers will appreciate your work. It will keep your product library up-to-date and looking sharp.
Photography is definitely still an art form and practiced skill, but it’s a much more approachable task than it used to be. Try your hand at it, or seek out a marketing company (a-hem a-hem) to help you along the way.
No customer wants to fight for your attention or feel like they are jumping through hoops when it comes to interacting with your company. About the only digital-space people will crawl over one another for a product is eBay. And, you’re not eBay are you?
The easier a customer can interact with you, the more likely they will be to do business with your company. Today, especially online, it may seem like competition is infinite. What can you do to reduce that competition? Make business easy and keep your work concise and organized. If you think your company’s website is even minutely scattered, sprawling or disjunct—what do you think your customers will think of it?
We are not the only ones thinking like this: “To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple”
13 Dental Trends That Will Affect Your Brand in 2013
*This article, written by AMG’s founder William F. Neal, CDT, is excerpted from Spectrum Dialogue Vol. 12 No. 2.
Now that 12-21-12 has come and gone (and we are all still here) we need to look at the coming year and determine what we need to do to weather 2013. The number 13 has long been associated with bad luck, however if you address the following 13 trends carefully you might find more success than those who do not.
1. Changing Demand in Your Product Mix
Rapidly advancing technological changes have permanently changed the dental laboratory landscape. No longer do laboratories have to labor over pouring of models, waxing with Bunsen burners and casting with torches. CAD/CAM technology, although expensive, has altered the production environment enabled the precision milling of dental restorations resulting in greater workflow efficiencies. This change will not stop and those who do not embrace the change will find the coming years more difficult to be competitive.
2. Pricing for The Future
It’s no secret that the North American Free Trade Act and the globalization of dental services have both put downward pressure on pricing. Rather than going along with this pressure, laboratories have to get a good handle on their cost of goods sold. Material costs have increased and yet direct labor costs have decreased. Laboratories today are spending large sums for equipment to remain competitive and those who budget and plan accordingly will enjoy a profitable business.
3. Need for Added Value
Laboratories are scrambling for the same customers with the same types of products; so what differentiates them from their competitors? Added value services and “perks” will go a long way to help some stand out from the crowd.
4. Provide Solutions Not Problems
Dentists today rely on the expertise provided by laboratories in materials and systems more than ever. White papers, technical bulletins and CE courses will help to educate dentists in the new technologies and help to eliminate problems between dental offices and laboratories.
5. Meet Higher Expectations of Dentists
Many of the newer systems, equipment and materials have provided dental laboratories, dentists and their patients with products and services at a higher level of precision and esthetics. Laboratories who educate their staff in how to apply their knowledge in their use will find it much easier to communicate with dentists and meet their expectations in the services and products provided to them and their patients.
6. Social Network Influences
Social media is playing a much larger role in business worldwide. The question is: Are laboratories ready to accept a role in social media? Will dental laboratories include social medial activities in their marketing efforts?
7. Customer Engagement
Engaging your customer is critical and social media is driving that fact. Consumers are becoming more aware of other peoples’ attitudes toward companies based on what is read in blogs and social media sites. It’s no longer about blasting out information; it becomes more about communication with them not at them.
8. Simplicity Will Win
Don’t over complicate your messaging. Consumers are a lot more aware of what is happening in the world and this applies to dentists. Keeping messaging simple and to the point is much more effective.
9. Mobile Marketing
Smart phones and tablets have changed how consumers do their purchasing research. Will you be ready? Apps and websites that are mobile friendly (accessible through Smartphones) will go a long way to help you reach potential and existing customers.
10. Educate to Create
Seminars, lunch and learn events and courses designed to provide needed CE continue to be one of the most effective tools to gain new customers. By educating potential customers you gain their confidence in your ability to be the company that can deliver what they need and want.
11. Consistent Branding
With so many different marketing channels to choose from it becomes more difficult to maintain consistency in your messaging and branding. Your logo, company message, color schemes are all important to portray consistently. This is especially important for those laboratories that do business out of their local area as any loss of identity might be a reason for them to look more closely to local laboratories.
12. Lasting Relationships
Maintaining good and long lasting relationships requires getting to know your customers’ objectives and goals better than anyone else. Excellent customer service, properly trained technical phone personnel and customer service representatives go a long way to support customers and keep them.
13. Watch Your Back
Be diligent in paying attention to what your competition and suppliers are doing. Who is buying whom and what companies are introducing new products and services. These indicate changing trends that will affect your business. It’s better to become aware of these changes before they can negatively impact your business.
We have all seen tremendous change in just the last two years and what will happen in the next year or two will definitely have an impact on all of dentistry. How you prepare yourself and your company will go a long way to insure your longevity as a dental industry participant.
Smell the fresh air and feel the sun on your back—the official start to spring is only a couple of days away, and you know what that means… spring cleaning! It’s high-time you started cleaning up, organizing, and updating your website.
Start with these two simple questions:
Is it broken?
Well, when is the last time you checked? Have someone comb through your website to make sure all the links are working correctly and it’s easily navigable. And if it is broken, do you really need us to tell you what do? Take care of your website’s unresolved issues today. Your customers will be happy you did.
Is it old?
Get it out of here. We’re not bashing seniority or experience, but we are bashing seniority or experience that thinks time will wait for them. In fact, seniority and experience are probably the most valuable assets your company can have, but if your marketing and advertising is stale, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Feeling overwhelmed starting the process off? Give us a call or shoot as an email. We’ve got just the cleaning crew for you and we would be happy to help!
Can’t be two places at once? With video conferencing you absolutely can. Video chatting or conferencing is an incredible way to easily address concerns or answer complex questions. It allows you to eliminate possibly confusing conversations and greatly enhances technical support to your clients. There are many options for your video conferencing tools, including Skype, Apple’s Facetime, Google’s Video Chat, GoToMeeting and WebEx. If you plan on doing many interactive video conference calls, it is a good idea to invest in a comfortable, high-quality headset. This allows you to receive and send the best audio (speakers sometimes have feedback) plus this gives you the ability to work hands-free. Incorporating video conferencing can afford you the opportunity to avoid costly rework and improve overall product satisfaction. This means a savings in time and money for you. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, then a video has to come in at about 5000 plus.
Active listening is one of the most important skills needed to help your business succeed. Many people have their minds made up before they even hear what another person has to say. Leave your own prejudices and preconceived ideas at home. These prevent you from actually learning something new and from actually hearing what the speaker is trying to say.
If something is unclear, speak up. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get clarity. Mark Twain said, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” This does not happen to be true in business. A good way to make sure you have a solid comprehension is to reiterate or paraphrase the points conveyed by the speaker. Proceeding on a project without understanding the true needs and expectations of your clients is definitely not advisable.
Try not to interrupt people and let them finish their thoughts. It is not only rather rude, but it makes you look like a bit of know-it-all. Just breathe and remain quiet until the person stops speaking. I have definitely been guilty of not heeding this advice in the past. I grew up in a loud, Irish family and getting a word in edgewise was a tough challenge. You had to try and jump in when you could. Recently, my boss pointed this fault out to me and I have been struggling to try and not interject (even though School House Rock made interjections look cool).
Every year, our clients send out thousands of postcards promoting their businesses. These campaigns have been a staple of the advertising world for decades and continue to have a strong impact on revenues. We are currently offering 50% off our mailing lists, which are good for 12 months from the day of purchase. These lists are available in a wide range of formats (including emails), and can be customized in order to find the right target demographics from the start. This saves time and money, and makes your campaigns more effective.
One of the perks of working closely with our dental clients is getting to hear the latest industry information. Custom Milling Center recently completed comprehensive work in the area of implant abutments. Using the latest in CAD/CAM technology and open-architecture systems, CMC can fabricate industry-leading custom abutments in both zirconia and titanium. These options are compatible with 14 major platforms. CMC can complete both the scan and design process or, for labs using the Dental Wings or 3Shape scanners, they provide scanning locators and interface libraries for total design control. With a custom abutment from CMC, your clients will benefit from increased functionality, fit and greater control of the emergence profile. If you would like more information, please visit custom-milling.com /locator or email email@example.com.
It’s likely that every member of your target demographic uses the internet to research who they do business with. If you don’t have an easily accessible portfolio of your lab’s work, you could lose potential customers. So how can social media help you?
The Crowded Modern Market
We live in a “Just Google It” world, and the value placed on esthetics has become more and more emphasized. This is especially true in the dental world, where patients and doctors alike have increasingly strict demands on the final restorative product. With thousands of labs out there, how will your lab stand out?
Defining Your Business Through Your Camera Lens
It’s one thing to have a website filled with product information and prep guides, but without actual pictures of your work, your lab could be lost among the competition. Facebook and Twitter both provide the ability to upload and share pictures of your lab, examples of your work and more. This is where you should start.
Social photo sharing applications are becoming all the rage, and include the widely praised Instagram. It has over 100 million users, and the application allows you to take a photo, make a few quick edits, share it across your social media networks in seconds. Snap a picture of a recently completed case, put a few classy filters on it, and let the world enjoy. The possibilities are truly what you make of them, and can give your lab the edge needed to succeed.
Let us know what social photo apps you have used. We’d love to hear how you are using them.
As always, we’re here to help. For information about making your lab more successful through social media, give us a call at (970) 221-5756 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published in Inside Dentist Technology
The best and worst times for online communication.
By Bill Neal, CDT
The Internet has dramatically changed how marketers reach their audiences. Although direct mail is still a major force in marketing products and services, e-marketing is running a close second. We all use e-mail to communicate with customers, vendors, family, and friends. Other than the occasional special invitation or a personal birthday card, e-mail dominates in both our personal and business lives. When was the last time you wrote a letter, printed out an envelope, stamped it, and dropped it in a mailbox? Plus, you never knew if or when the recipient would receive your communication.
E-marketing, on the other hand, has tremendous benefits when done correctly and is an ideal delivery platform for e-newsletters. Not only are e-marketing newsletters less expensive to produce and deliver than direct mail, but with e-newsletters, you can also track open rates, what articles have been accessed, and thereby begin to develop a good set of metrics on what is working and what is not. However, there is a different set of rules and things to consider when sending e-newsletters or other e-marketing promotions. You need to do a little homework to make sure your efforts are going to give you the exposure and ultimately the return you want.
One key element, and obviously the last one in the process, is deciding when to “blast” your e-newsletter. We all want our e-newsletter to be the first opened, and timing plays a critical part of the campaign. There are other factors at work when determining the success of an e-newsletter campaign, such as:
• Subject line and company name
• Relevance of content
• Number of articles
• Blast schedule consistency
• Eye-catching graphics and images
• Use of an identifiable and pleasing masthead
• Brand recognition
• Readability and proper use of white space
• Working links to your website
• Opt-out options
While this is not a complete list, these are the most important considerations in a successful e-newsletter campaign. Our experience has taught us that there are no hard and fast rules that we can apply to the dental industry or, in fact, to any other industry. E-marketing companies are all over the map about the proper way to handle e-newsletters, but some obvious considerations are:
• List source
• Subscribed or not (this is critical with some e-mail blast providers)
• B2B or B2C customers or prospects
• Industry type
• Company brand recognition
Again, more considerations could be added to this list. In our industry, you can develop some good insights on timing to send e-newsletters to dentists. You know your customers better than anyone else, and you also know how they operate, when they get to their office, how they work, their schedule, and when they usually go on vacation, take days off, etc. All of this gives you a good profile to work from.
You should think about the times it is difficult to get your dentist customers on the phone or when they like to return calls (other than the obvious case problem). You have a wealth of information regarding your customers’ habits. The task is to use that information to determine the best time for sending e-blasts and e-newsletters in order to get a high open rate and better results.
There is no point in building a form of online communication to send to clients during times where they are more likely to ignore your message. Many different opinions exist in the reports reviewed during the research for this article. One key element mentioned by several marketers was that every industry and target market responds differently. It has been suggested to check your analytics and then test, test, and test some more to better understand what works best for you.
The biggest key is to pick a frequency schedule and stick to it. Change your delivery dates and times based on your test results, and you will find the best days and times to reach your customers.
Reaching Your Audience
According to recent surveys and marketing reports from e-mail marketers, there are, however, some best and worst times to send e-newsletters that are more likely to reach your intended audience.
• Between 9:30 am and 11:00 am
• First Tuesday and Thursday of the month
• Some reports suggest Sunday
• Other reports suggest delivery around lunch time
• The 1st and/or 2nd day of the month
• Last day of the month
• For dental, Wednesdays and Friday may not work well
• Around holidays—day before and day after
• Early morning e-mail delivery has lowest open rate