The Zero Cost Marketing Strategy

Updated: September 03, 2010

While the Internet has changed the way that most of us find all kinds of services - from restaurants to cobblers - at the small Philadelphia cosmetic dental practice that I run with my partner, much of our revenue still comes from long time customers and word of mouth. Having this strong, reliable, loyal base has been absolutely crucial to our ability to grow our business and thrive in a chaotic market. And while I take enormous pride in the work that we do, I firmly believe that it's our unerring commitment to customer service that has kept customers returning.

Because of the nature of our business, our revenue comes from a much smaller pool of customers than say, a restaurant. A bad experience where we loose a customer, or even worse, where we loose a customer who goes on to share the bad experience at a cocktail party or on our Google Local page can seriously eat into our bottom line. The knowledge that every customer interaction can have rippling repercussion, positive or negative, is always top of mind for us.

Our strategy was initially born out of a challenge. How do we get people to if not enjoy, then at least not hate coming to the dentist?

In addressing that concern, we developed the brand identity that underpins our business and has turned out to be the lowest cost, highest return marketing plan that anyone could hope for. We strive to consistently make every element of the experience about an open comfortable, convivial atmosphere.

When they walk in, our patients are greeted by our exceedingly warm receptionist and given a tour of our office. Before we begin any exam or procedure portion of the visit, the patient is seated in a private office with my partner or I for a one on one consolation. As you can imagine, being far away from the dental chair, puts patients at ease and makes them more comfortable opening up about their concerns and what they're hoping to get out of the procedure. We pride ourselves on counseling, really listening, being open and receptive. We do our best to imbue the experience with being a king or queen for the day.

We've been lucky to have very low staff turnover; I've been at the practice for 35 years, my partner for 31 and our front staff people almost as long. That kind of consistency creates a family atmosphere and small-town coziness where someone always remembers birthdays and kids' names.

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