July 10, 2015

What is your "Cost of Customer Acquisition" - The Orthodontist

"Cost of Customer Acquisition" is probably one of the most important pieces of knowledge to have in business.  This tidbit of information makes your small business act very big.  This Tidbit of information is what makes businesses grow.  This Tidbit of information is what makes you more money and builds you a business that has asset value (sellable (ahh retirement)).
So let's figure this out.  How do I figure out what my Cost of Customer Acquisition is?  Probably the best way (aside from hiring an expensive consultant - which I DO NOT Recommend) is use some industry averages.  They are available in your profession - attend a marketing seminar (they are at every Dental Trade Show).  Note, if someone who is selling you marketing, claiming expertise in your business, and can not tell you what your profession's Cost of Customer Acquisition is, they ARE NOT an Expert.

In the dental business there are at least two cases: The Dentist - your patients are forever; The Orthodontists - your patients are mostly single purpose.

Orthodontists Live or Die
on Referrals and Reputation

This Article Addresses Orthodontist        
have a high Cost of Customer Acquisition. The service they provide is expensive (per customer) and has a high gross margin all within a time compressed dental service.  Orthodontists  need to market themselves in many different ways - each serving a purpose.

Internet and Social Media - A NECESSITY.  The Internet and doing SEO are the easy parts; there are a dozen computer geeks in every town that can make this happen for you - just don't over due it.  You are LOCAL, thus Google does most of the work for you.  Social Media, is a different animal though.

Let's use our customers and brag, in pictures, about our product.  You want to get permission to post (or not post) pictures of your finished work; the kids will love it and as far as seeing before and afters, once you get the ball rolling, the patients (kids) will post them as well (and for you).  Make sure they TAG your practice's Facebook page (your staff will need to ask them to do that).
 People will "check you out" on Yelp, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
This is a high labor cost - high indirect / difficult to measurable return; the nice thing here is that you probably have an expert in the office already playing on Social Media during their work day - embrace it.  Done right, social media will make your local brand.

EDDM, not so for Orthodontists
Direct Mail - Unlike dentists, EDDM (USPS Every Door Direct Mail) does not provide the "Lifetime" return to the Orthodontist.  Your patients hopefully never come back and, as far as their siblings, their parents will never forget you. That said, we have Orthodontists that do EDDM, but not with the frequency or return that Dentists enjoy.  When Orthodontist's do EDDMs, the mailing still needs a hook - that free evaluation or a consult.

Referral Card
Referral Marketing - This one is not a new concept to Orthodontists and is definitely the big winner.  Your good relationships (goodwill) with other local Dentists gets you on their referral short list.  Your objective now is to be the one picked from that referral short list.

So what can you do to be the one picked (from that short list of 3 or 4)?  Do some proactive referral marketing.
  1. Each patient, on each visit, should walk away with a hand full of referral cards.  Those cards should reward the referred with some monetary incentive to come see you first;  "$50 toward your Consult and analysis".  In addition, the referrer needs to be rewarded with some credit as well (make it worthwhile) such as $10 for new consults and $50 for new patients.  Parents will grab extra cards and force their kids to pass them out.
  2. After the patients braces are removed, print a set of referral cards that are specific to that patient - One with their big smile and the words "Erin's New Smile - By Dr. Thomas, DDS"; these will go everywhere.  This may seem self-serving (to me here), but this is far less expensive than any promotional toy you give out.  Your referral card will go from your patient, to their friend to their parents.  Cool approach, huh.
  3. Possibly the most important task you have to improve your referral selection: Be Part of the Community - Be a Recognized Face = Be a Recognized Smile.
We will set up the complete program for increasing your business.

Call Me for advice - We Consult, we Print, and we will measure (count your money) if you like..

Bob Leonard
561-371-4113 (Call My Cell)
512-593-8830 (in Austin)

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  1. This is an interesting read. While I'd agree with you points here, I must take exception to one. You state tat you don't recommend utilizing the services of a consultant for CoCA. As a consultant specializing in healthcare strategy, I can tell you a good consultant includes the CoCA in the yearly strategic planning report. That said, you get more bang for your buck utilizing the services of a consultant. Add to this the fact that a consultant has one job, improving the value and marketability of the practice. Unlike other internal employees, who must wear several hats, the consultant proves his/her ROR by producing specific results in a specified time frame. Who could argue with the value of added services without the additional overhead costs of providing benefits normally accruing to internal employees? My point; don't discount consultants when considering CoCA because they're probably bringing a lot more useful strategies in addition to it. Love your content!

  2. Shereese. I am complete agreement with you on this, Your level of consultancy is higher than the norm as many consultants create "complexity" in creating the "bar" rather than setting it as a measurement level / standard.

    I appreciate what you added to this article. You add a level of depth, knowledge and practical expertise - Thank you. You have a style of communicating (in your tweets) that compliments my style and educates broadly. Follow Shereese on Twitter at @ShereesePubHlth