When you think of the companies and brands that have great marketing and advertising, who comes to mind? Apple? Nike? McDonalds?
So, what do all of those companies have that your dental practice doesn’t?
The answer is gobs of money and a brilliant Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).
The kind of marketing budgets those industry giants can afford may be out of your reach, but adding a marketing genius to your payroll is quite possible… if you hire a virtual CMO.
What Is a Virtual CMO?
In the traditional sense, a CMO is a high-ranking marketing leadership role within a large company. The talented people who fill these roles typically have several years of experience coupled with a deep knowledge of marketing and the industry vertical that they operate in. Accordingly, they also command a salary that fairly compensates for those qualities, but limits their availability to larger organizations with sizable marketing budgets.
On the other hand, virtual (or outsourced) CMOs work with smaller businesses (like dental practices) on a part-time basis. Virtual CMOs can be individuals, but more often they are agencies that offer a suite of marketing services to organizations with limited in-house capabilities.
Why Should a Dental Practice Hire a Virtual CMO?
Don’t get me wrong, there are some dentists out there who are savvy marketers, and have jam-packed patient schedules to show for it. But for the most part, dental practices just do the “basics” if they are managing their own marketing.
That, unfortunately, tends to lead to a fragmented “shiny object” approach where they piece together various marketing tactics that seem to have the greatest promise of success. But with no cohesive strategic plan in place, those efforts almost always come up short of reaching their goals.
That’s where your virtual CMO comes in, creating a clear marketing plan that is aligned with the goals you have for your practice’s growth. That clarity alone is enough reason to work with a virtual CMO, but there are also several other benefits.
Focus and Consistency
Unlike you and your team, your virtual CMO won’t be distracted from marketing by emergency patients or blown out patient schedules. Marketing is the only thing they focus on, so there will be no interruptions or loss of momentum when it comes to executing your marketing strategy.
Broad Skill and Capabilities
For successful marketing, it takes a village. If you’re working with an agency as your virtual CMO, you’ll actually be getting an entire marketing team working for you. That will likely include experts in web design, social media, advertising, graphic design, and other key marketing skills. Skills that your dental team simply doesn’t have.
Better Quality and More For Your Money
With an outsourced team of marketers who are great at what they do, the quality of your marketing (and how your patients perceive you) will be elevated. It may not seem fair that people will judge the quality of care you provide based on how good your online ads and your website look, but they will.
The fact that your marketing team will be outsourced and you will not have to pay full time employees is another big plus. Money that you would normally spend on benefits and salary can be applied directly to your marketing efforts. Dental practices often try to hire an affordable marketing person as a “do-it-all” role, but their lack of marketing skill and experience typically leads to a lot of wasted effort and expense.
Outside Perspective and Shared Knowledge
One of the drawbacks of doing your own marketing in-house is that you can lose perspective. Only seeing things from within the confines of your dental practice can shut out new ideas and limit your awareness of things you could be doing differently or better. Because your CMO is working for other businesses besides yours, they can apply lessons they have learned, both good and bad, to make your marketing more effective.
Mentorship and Training
If you do have team members who actively participate in your marketing efforts, who better for them to learn from than a marketing expert? Your virtual CMO will be a great resource for your office to learn more about the overall marketing process and gain some quick tips and tricks along the way.
Measurable Results and Accountability
When you pay for a virtual CMO, you’re really paying for the results they deliver. True marketers live and breathe for analytics and KPIs, and when they deliver monthly reporting to you, it will be obvious whether or not their efforts were successful. They know that and will stay on their toes to meet or exceed your expectations.
What Should You Look for In a Virtual CMO for Your Dental Practice?
To find that “right fit” to fill your marketing needs, there are a few key things you should consider when vetting your CMO candidates.
In addition to being a marketing expert (duh), your CMO should also be knowledgeable about the dental industry and how to market specifically to dental patients. If your CMO thinks that marketing for dentistry is just like any other kind of marketing, keep looking for other candidates.
Has the CMO helped any of your dental colleagues? Can they offer case studies of other clients they have delivered results for? This is an important relationship for your practice to be entering into, so be diligent and dig deeper than online reviews.
Just because your CMO won’t be working within your office on a daily basis, don’t overlook the importance of matching personalities. If you’re not comfortable working with them, you probably won’t get the kind of synergy you need to make your marketing shine.
How Do You Find a Great Virtual CMO?
To find your ideal CMO, you could get lucky with a Google search, but realistically you may need to do a little bit of legwork to find a really great marketer. Think about other dentists you know who have amazing marketing. Reach out and ask who they’re working with. If you’re working with any practice management consultants, do they have agencies they would recommend? Have you seen any outstanding articles published by marketing experts? Find out what agency they’re with.
The best virtual CMOs aren’t exactly hiding under rocks, but they also don’t need to heavily promote themselves. They know that dentists who are serious about growing their practices will come and find them.