Effective Ground Marketing for Dentists in a Socially Distant World
In many ways, the pandemic has changed the way we view the world, but one thing remains stronger than ever… we all crave human connection and always will. Endless days spent on Zoom begin to feel monotonous, and the days where we meet a potential client for coffee seem few and far between. However, the spirit of human resiliency lives on among “business owners”, and the dental profession is wiser and stronger in many ways.
It does beg the question, how does a dentist create a thriving business throughout the unknown ups and downs of a global crisis, but also wrap their arms around their community in tangible ways? How can doctors create the kind of messaging in their marketing that communicates both safety and speaks human at the same time? Since both are needed, let’s take a look at an “old school” marketing approach that’s been around for decades: Ground Marketing.
Ground marketing is still the way you meet people face-to-face, hear their stories and gain their trust. I know, I know, you’re wondering why Studio EightyEight is discussing a “boots on the ground” approach! Don’t worry, we will forever be your die hard story-driven digital marketing company, but that won’t stop us from exploring resources and strategies that are outside of the norm for us. In the end, we hope this read gives you some new ideas to help you connect with your existing patients, meet new ones and create a strong community presence in your area.
Rather than listing a bunch of stats and data for you to read, we thought it would be more fun to do a little ground marketing of our own. Joel Hafner (Lead Video Producer) and myself (Joanna Scott - Biz Dev Director) met with multiple dentists in the Columbus, Ohio area to find out what types of ground marketing approaches are working for them and which ones are not. We didn’t stop there! We also sat down with the godfather of ground marketing himself, Michael Arias, to discuss his story and how he got into ground marketing, the future of ground marketing in a pandemic world, along with techniques and strategies that work!
Check out the full video and snippets from each conversation below!
Meet Dr. Nicole Johnson, Pediatric Dentist in Upper Arlington, Ohio
First up, meet Dr. Nicole Johnson, founder and owner of Little Ones Pediatric Dentistry in Upper Arlington, Ohio. Dr. Nicole has a passion for serving all children, including those with special needs. Her goal is to make sure every child feels special, gets the personalized attention and care they need, and has an amazing dental experience. She loves to sing songs, tell silly stories, and tickle the “sugar bugs” away! Dr. Johnson just recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! Congratulations momma!
Joanna: Where are we with ground marketing? Do you have techniques that are working for you both pre-COVID and during a pandemic?
Dr. Johnson: There is a place for going in personally and introducing yourself. For instance, we did a couple things with local daycares, and dropped off little goodie bags with a toothbrush and a magnet that outlines common dental trauma along with our phone number where parents can rapidly reach us. That actually had a pretty big impact on our practice.
Joanna: Those multiple touches along the way create such great brand awareness too!
Meet Dr. Cliff Moore, General Dentist in Lewis Center, Ohio
Secondly, I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Cliff Moore, founder and owner of Moore Dental at Lewis Center, Ohio. As he drifts off to sleep, Dr. Moore dreams about taking a long run on a beautiful Hawaiian beach followed by a fast food lunch and a fun-filled afternoon with his wife, Katie, and their kids, Clare and Joe. Their furry friends, Stella and Django, even show up on the beach to join them. Just before he wakes, his amazing day includes pizza for all, with a special pepperoni, bacon, and jalapeño set aside for the good doctor.
Joanna: What advice would you have for the introverted dentist who’s nervous about getting out in their community? Why is it worth it?
Dr. Moore: That’s a great question because everyone has different personalities. One thing I would say is don’t ever share anything that you’re not comfortable with. Don’t force it, or it’s not going to seem genuine and it’s not going to come off right. Also, social media is a great way to interact with your community if you’re introverted. You can film something in your office with a tripod and talk about something you’re comfortable with.
Joanna: There’s space for both digital marketing and ground marketing! Love it!
Meet Dr. Jennifer Miller, General Dentist in Dublin, Ohio
Third up is Dr. Jennifer Miller, founder and owner of Dentistry of Dublin! Growing up in Dublin, Ohio, Dr. Jennifer J. Miller is a proud graduate of Dublin Coffman High School. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Miami University of Ohio. Pursuing her dream to be a dentist, she received her Doctorate of Dental Surgery from NYU College of Dentistry in 2007. Beyond dentistry, she is an avid runner, practices yoga, has her private pilot’s license, and enjoys cheering on the Buckeyes!
Joanna: It’s so important to have a custom, digital presence that represents your story. How is it also important to have strong relationships in the community? How do ground marketing and digital marketing compliment one another?
Dr. Miller: We meet people outside of the office, and people don’t know about this place, so they first go to check out our website. When they come here in-person they see there’s a consistent theme of fun, health and beauty that matches our website.
Joanna: They feel they have a fun, behind the scenes sneak peek of your practice and how things work here.
Dr. Miller: Exactly!
Meet Michael Arias: the Dental Marketer from Los Angeles, California
Last but not least, meet our friend Michael Arias, the creator of The Dental Marketer brand and community. I’ll let Michael introduce you in his own way! Michael is on a mission to, “Help people find you.” Years ago, Michael started off as a nutritionist and then went full circle falling in love with dentistry and ground marketing. He’s a California guy, master podcaster and interviewer, plus is married to the love of his life, Karina. He also has the best book recommendations!
Catch up on our conversation:
Joanna: What made you want to get into dental marketing and ground marketing specifically?
Michael: It’s interesting. I actually came from a background in nutrition and personal training. One of my clients was a consultant, and in conversation brought up to me a scenario where I helped him bring new clients into his practice. It was a lot harder than I thought. When you’re trying a lot of things all at the same time, it is overwhelming. When that wasn’t working, I realized I needed to focus on one thing at a time. I went into one gym and figured out how I could make them interested in me. So that’s how it all started.
Joel: Do you feel that it’s harder during the pandemic to make a consistent decision on how to approach ground marketing?
Michael: Something that has blossomed is people craving interaction. People to people.
Joanna: We’re hardwired for human connection, so when you’re not in person it begins to feel really isolating. Connecting with your community in whatever capacity seems right for you will pay off dividends for years to come.
Since Studio EightyEight is a full service digital marketing agency, we were happy to hear that Michael Arias and all of our doctor interviews supported the idea that ground marketing and digital marketing are not in competition with each other! In fact, they actually complement each other. Our biggest takeaway is that you need both.
1: Consistency -A doctor’s in-person reputation and people skills should be congruent with their digital presence online, and vice versa. If you’re cold in person, but have a fantastic website, that is not doing you any favors all on its own. If a patient interacts with you at their son’s baseball game and you’re warm and relatable, that’s a good start. When they check you out online and your website is a unique, custom representation of your story, that’s what we call a WIN.
2: Connection - I think Brene Brown says it best. “We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” The pandemic has created the urge for more real, authentic connections with one another. People need people, and the members of your community want to meet you and get to know you. Yes it will take some time, creativity and intentionality, but it’s worth it.
Huge thank you to all of our guest doctors, and to Michael Arias for helping us answer some questions we had about ground marketing in a socially distant world. If you want resources for creating relationships in your community then download our free story-driven dental marketing guide below for next steps. Your story is worth it!