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Several weeks ago I posted about the comeback of the American consumer and its impact on the financial services market. Since then, I’ve engaged in the same discussion with healthcare device makers and distributors who are also wondering how a stronger consumer will impact their business.

The obvious reality is that every sector in the United States ought to be positioning itself in light of strong consumer sentiment and data.  Let me quickly set the table by restating a few key points from my previous post about market conditions and business climate that are relevant across industries, but are certainly applicable to healthcare equipment makers, manufacturers, and distributors:

  • The stock market is at or near an all time high
  • The business media seems to be whistling a happy tune about the comeback of the American Consumer
  • Earlier this year, according to Bloomberg.com Macys’, Target and Gap reported sales that topped sales estimates in January, 2013
  • This past February, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment climbed to 76.3 from 73.8 in January
  • Ernst & Young cited stronger global markets and calls the US markets “very positive” in its most recent forecast.
  • With property values rising and the job market strengthening, Americans seem to be poised for an uptick in wealth

So, what does the comeback of the American consumer mean to Healthcare consumption? From 10,000 feet, two things: 1) The American healthcare consumer will have more money and more confidence to spend it and 2) that confidence and willingness to spend will be tempered by impact on the collective psyche still felt from the 2008 market crash.

Who will benefit from this consumer wealth effect?  Consumer medical specialties, like dentists and cosmetic dentists, plastic and cosmetic surgeons, dermatologists, fertility specialists, bariatric surgeons, and those companies who are selling to them, as well as hospitals and surgi-centers who will deliver care in these service lines. We believe that other specialty areas will also see benefits such as certain areas of orthopedics, We see a healthy return of discretionary income spending in the aforementioned areas. At a recent meeting of Plastic Surgeons in New York City, a Baltimore based doctor said: “we’re seeing people coming off the street and dropping a $1,000 to $1,500 on procedures, and that hasn’t happened in a long time.”  As I write, there’s a strong bi-partisan push in the senate to repeal the medical device tax. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I am a device manufacturer or distributor. Just as a reminder, the 2.3% excise tax is on the gross sales price of taxable medical devices. Regardless of whether the medical device tax is repealed or not, companies who better position themselves in this climate relative to the American consumer, will have a whopping advantage over those who don’t.

Here’s how healthcare device companies and distributors can better position themselves in light of the coming wealth effect:

1. Down-line Education – Three pronged approach: 1) Get out in front of the market by arming your buyers with the information they need to make an informed buying decision for your products. Include information on what the wealth effect could mean for both their business and patients.  It is likely that they themselves are feeling the wealth effect personally. Of course, buying certain equipment will put your buyers in a better position to serve the needs of their patients who will now feel more comfortable in spending discretionary dollars on healthcare services. 2) Consumer down-line education through web and digital strategies will provide fertile ground to drive consumer education and show buyers your commitment to their success.  3) Peer-to-Peer education for buyers of healthcare devices and products. Down-line education must have a strong digital component, especially with the rise of mobile and the coming of Google Glass, which will once again revolutionize mobile. [A quick aside: I was one of the privileged few to recently accompany a Google employee on a Google Glasses tour and indeed healthcare must be prepared for the coming revolution, but that's a post for another day.]

2. Brand Like You Mean It – This is a great time to get back into the market with a healthy respect for your customers. Communicate with them on a level that they come to expect and specifically communicate value.  Your visuals must be stunning, your value lasting.  Now, I have been on the record and continue to be by saying that branding is “not what you do,” it’s a “result of what you do.” For those companies who have been lacking in promoting their products and services to exceed market expectations, the time to start building a foundation for your brand has never been better than right now. This is especially true now because some of your competitors will inevitably continue to rely on the same strategies, thinking the same old ways, or their size, or whatever will produce results in this environment. Good, let them. For companies who consider themselves brand leaders in their space, don’t rest on your brand laurels, because your customers will now need more information to make buying decisions, and have more access to information about your products and your competitors’.

3. Mobile & Digital Will Drive Marketing Strategy Linkedin just surpassed 1 million doctors and nurses worldwide. Our own proprietary research shows that as of January 27, 2013, there were 500,000 people who have identified themselves in the United States as “dentists” on Facebook and 33,000 in the same category on Linkedin. There were 2,918 people who identified themselves as “general dentists” on Linkedin. Combine that with Healthcare topics being the most consumer-searched subject online in the United States, and you now have an idea of how important the digital environment is to your business. Educating the consumer and the market about the value of your products in the digital world is crucial to building consumer awareness and driving demand to your customers (doctors, dentists, hospitals, surgi-centers, clinics). Web and digital content must meet the expectations of the market, and if it doesn’t your company risks brand erosion. Positioning your products juxtaposed against value – remember, your customers and the consumer is once bitten and twice shy by now – will go a long way to making the case for your products. Your digital reputation and your customers’ must be spotless, because it is your reputation. So, move away from creating social pages and posting to meaningful digital strategies. Location strategies relative to how you sell should play a critical part. For example: if you’re selling an intra-oral camera, or gastric sleeves, you may want to share with your customers who else the in the area is using your technology via a mobile map application.  The very least you ought to do is mobilize your websites to make it easier for your sales force and your clients to access your products and services.

4.  Be a Category Creator – In Why It Pays to Be a Category Creator (Harvard Business Review, March 2013), the authors found that “category creators experience much faster growth and receive much higher valuations than companies bringing only incremental innovations to market.” Researchers found that category creators, while only 13% of the companies studied, accounted for 74% of the group’s growth. Consider the dental industry’s fore into sleep medicine. It was a blue ocean strategy, which opened up a new market for dentists and provided patients with yet different way to utilize and view their dentist. Whatever category you choose to create, and at the risk of overstating the obvious here, it has to be both ethical and make sense for the patient. So, be creative, you may surprise yourself.

It’s an exciting time to be in healthcare. Being nimble and entrepreneurial and taking advantage of selling into the current climate no matter size of your company is a virtue and highly accretive to growth in this environment.  So, jump right in, the water is fine.

Abe Kasbo is CEO of Verasoni Worldwide
Follow @akasbo or facebook.com/verasoni


For distributors and manufacturers, the dental market is now moving faster than ever before and with a greater emphasis on efficiency and market penetration. It’s perhaps the understatement of the decade to say that companies are now trying to position themselves in this seemingly hyper competitive space in order to better gain market share in an industry that’s forecasted to deliver about $70 billion in sales in 2013.

However, the unfathomable speed that is moving technology and media is creating a dangerous intersection for CEOs and CMOs who may be left feeling like they are drinking from a fire hydrant when it comes to marketing communications; so are now seeking more clarity on the subject than ever before. Strategic integrated marketing decisions in this space, and acting on them or not, will obviously affect brands and sales outcomes, but only if one can sufficiently separate the hype from the realities.

Below is our take on some of the realities and what dental companies and distributors can expect in 2013 in the marketing communications space. Here are our predictions for the New Year!

PREDICTION #1

Companies Will Be More Mobile or Will Lag Behind

According to Hubspot, in 2012 more people bought more smartphones than PC’s. Fifty-percent of US adults own a smartphone or tablet and 66% get the news on those devices.  In the second half of 2012, tablets outsold PCs.  By the end of 2013, we predict mobile will play a more strategic role with companies in the dental space, including the adoption of mobile branded content platforms, mobile ads and location based marketing.  Naturally, dentists have already moved in that direction, as their behavior typically follows the consumer market.

We believe the strong attachment to mobile devices will mean that those companies who move in a measured and meaningful way will also position themselves to own the mobile device behavior of their clients and salesforce.

PREDICTION #2

Editorial Branded Content Will Prevail

Research tells us that branded editorial not only drives organic search to your website, but also influences the reader.  Editorial content must be married with a mobile and social distribution to your company’s relevant network. Everything else is simply fluff.  So companies will seek to better align their mobile and content strategies to keep their products more in reach and top of mind.

We’re never wild about business terminology, but we just came across one that fits this prediction: “Newsjacking”!  Simply put, brands and companies must generate their own news and become their own publishers.  Sales professionals and dentists are a smart bunch, so companies who position their content in a way that they can be perceived as a resource will win over time.  Last but not least, companies will create once and publish everywhere!

PREDICTION #3

More Digital Bounce to Engagement, Branding & Sales

According to a 2012 study cited by Hubspot, one-third of CMOs say more than half of their budgets have shifted from traditional to digital marketing in the past year, yet the same study showed companies with 50+ employees spend almost 20% of their marketing budgets on tradeshows.  Where’s the intersection?  Companies in the dental space will begin to integrate digital strategies into their tradeshow presence to carry relationships formed at tradeshows well beyond that event.  Companies will go beyond email, to engagement on social and through peer-to-peer activities and brand story telling via mobile microsites. Companies who engage in this space will also see more earned media as a result of organic search.

PREDICTION #4

Company Website Shall Be Responsive or Be Gone

Since all data is pointing towards the supremacy of mobile search going forward, dental companies who are seeking a competitive position in the digital space – and who isn’t? – will make their websites responsive. Since mobile devices vary in screen sizes, users will grow increasingly frustrated in viewing a traditional website on a mobile device, and if the experience is frustrating, research tell us that they will find an alternative in about 4 seconds.

PREDICTION #5

Move to Big Data in Dental

Companies will look for strategic edges through integration of big data. Companies in the dental space will demand more access to fragmented data either to help access a market or make better decisions on how to drive sales.

PREDICTION #6

Social Media Will Break Out of Its Silo

Brands will understand that likes and followers mean very little unless they are engaged. Companies in the space will capture mindshare by recognizing that will no longer place their brands in social media silos but develop a more integrated approach to telling their stories and engaging their audience. Companies in the dental space will use social media to drive inbound marketing strategies and not simply for branding purposes.  Mobile will drive access, meaningful content and the platforms will drive engagement.  Social media will evolve in the space to serve as a key platforms for brand KOLs and media engagement.

PREDICTION #7

Advertising Still Useful, Not Dead, Monetize to Digital

The era of branded print and digital advertising is over in our opinion, but that doesn’t mean that the medium is dead. In fact brand print and digital advertising can be quite useful if integrated with their digital cohorts.  Successful companies in the space will drive print to web, drive print to social, and drive print to mobile and more.  The integration will deliver more data to help CEOs and CMOs make better decisions as they look for growth in 2013.

Finally, No doubt technology will continue to transform how brands communicate their value proposition in 2013 and beyond. It’s important to note that, regardless of technology, the basics of integrated marketing communications strategies still apply. That’s one prediction that we know will last through 2013 and beyond.

Abe Kasbo is the CEO of Verasoni Worldwide a fiercely independent marketing and public relations firm located in Montclair, NJ. Follow the company here: @twitter or facebook.

 

 


Introduction:  Dentistry 2.0

For many Americans the Internet has become a credible source of health information.  Medical sites like WebMD, MayoClinic.com, Vitals.com, Healthgrades.com and others offer unprecedented access to health information to feed this growing consumer appetite for health information.  According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 61 percent of Americans turn to the web for online medical advice and information.  This trend will certainly grow as the penetration of the Internet and mobile devices continue to grow and change the way Americans demand, search, and consume media.

At the same time, healthcare professionals, including dentists are seeking the best possible position online by developing websites for their practice, and increasingly using tools like search engines (organic and pay per click), blogging, and social media.   Although dentists have been using the web to promote their practices in the United States by spending thousand of dollars each year on the medium, aggregate data on quality of dental websites in terms of user experience, search engine friendliness, and patient conversion rates are not readily available in the marketplace.   Now dentists are speeding ahead into the wild west of social media and staking their claim on properties like Facebook.

Enter Social Media: Facebook and Social Media for Dentists

Social media has had a profound impact on virtually every business sector including dentistry. The swift rise of social media is reminiscent of the rise of the rush to the Internet about 15 years ago.  And while we understand that social media as transformation and is here to stay, and will continue to revolutionize the way people connect and do business, its impact on the dental industry and the dental practice in particular is still not understood primarily because of lack of data.

Dentists are now allocating marketing dollars and / or resources to promote their practices on social networking sites like Facebook.  Dentists have quickly come to recognize the power and usefulness of Facebook as a marketing platform.  Data show that people are spending more time on Facebook and taking the opportunity to find what their friends and family like, their interests, and social circle.

In September, 2010, Facebook surpassed Google in terms of time spent online.  According to a joint study by Citi analyst Mark Mahaney and ComScore that looked at the percent of time spent by people on the top 5 sites in August, 2010. The study found that“ Facebook, for the first time took the top spot with 41.1 minutes followed by Google with 39.8 minutes.” As more people spend time on Facebook, the more attractive the site becomes to advertisers, like dentists who seek to monetize on Facebook’s platform and phenomenon.  We believe that the more time people spend on Facebook, the more they may use Facebook’s search box in the upper portion of the site to search for good and services, including dentistry.  In essence, for many people Facebook has become an integral part of their daily desktop activities.

In the case of dentists and their utilization of social media to promote their practice, here too, there is a dearth of data on how dentists use Facebook to promote their practice. Qualitative observation tells us that dentists appear to be using Facebook as their choice social media platform to promote their practice. They are setting up profiles, pages and groups for their practice on Facebook.  Questions still remain about what dentists are doing on Facebook and how they are doing it.

This Study: Its Methodology & Rationale

In this study, we seek to better understand how dentists across the United States are using social media, Facebook in this case, to promote their practice. The study period took place between December 1, 2010 and December 21, 2010.  We used human observation because we have found no software or automated program that was able to assist with this study. We looked at dentists in all 50 states in the United States.  We searched Facebook for dentists by state.  Using Facebook’s search box at the upper portion of the site and high value search terms from Google, we sought to mirror similar searches on Facebook for dentists. For example to search for a dentist in New York State, we queried Facebook search for “Dentist NY” or “Dentist New York.”

Terms Searched

We searched for the “state” and “dentist.”  We used the full spelling of the state and its most common abbreviation, for example: “Florida” as the full name of the state and “FL” as the abbreviation. We used human observation because we also wanted to better understand not simply if we can find a dentist on facebook, but what these dentists are doing, how they are using facebook to promote their practice.

We employed human observation because there is no software or service that allows us to achieve our goals. The most prolific Facebook measurement, research and statistics service, Socialbakers – www.socialbakers.com, currently does not measure Facebook activities related to healthcare.  As stated above, because social media and Facebook is a medium of engagement, we wanted to better understand not simply what dentists are doing to promote their practice on Facebook, but how they are doing it.

Limitations of the Study

Based on pre-study observations and through experience, we found that many more dentists than this study yielded with personal profiles; although to access personal profiles one needs to request these dentists as a friend.  We believe personal profiles on Facebook for dentists, if they are intended to be used, to promote their practice, is a barrier to search in the sense that we know it.  Certainly anecdotal search behavior tells us that people that ease of access is important to the searcher and in this case, if people are searching for dental services on Facebook, they may be unwilling to send a friend request and wait for an answer in order to learn more about the dentist. Therefore we excluded personal profiles from this study.

Other limitations include that this study reflects a period in time, and therefore it is likely that additional activity may have occurred on those dentist pages whom we observed.

Findings: Search Query

We searched Facebook for the term “dentist” by state. We searched every state in the United States and the term dentist. In the search box we searched in two ways, the full name of the state, ie: New York and its abbreviation, NY.  We combined the full name of the state with the word dentist, and in our subsequent search we combined the common abbreviated name of the state with the word “dentist.”

The reason we used the search function is because it is the easiest way for someone to find a dentist. It is far fetched to surmise that people will seek to “friend” a dentist that they do not know simply to become their patient or to find out more about their services.  It is much easier if someone searched by state or city for a dentist and were provided with unfettered access to the group or the page.

Though this method we found a total of 229 dentists in the United States.  The highest concentration of dentists that came up in Facebook’s search by state were in Texas (18), followed by New Jersey (17), while many states yielded zero dentists, such as Connecticut and Alaska.

The Table below provides the numbers of dentists by state for the query “Dentist, Full Name of State,” or “Dentist, abbreviated name of state,” n=229.

Table 1: Facebook Search Results for “Dentist” and “State” Fully Spelled Out and Abbreviated

State

# of Dentists

AK

   0

AL

1

AR

0

AZ

6

CA

17

CO

6

CT

0

DE

1

FL

6

GA

8

HI

1

IA

3

ID

2

IL

2

IN

3

KS

4

KY

4

LA

3

MA

5

MD

6

ME

1

MI

9

MN

5

MO

2

MT

0

NC

5

ND

0

NE

1

NH

2

NJ

17

NM

0

NV

4

NY

13

OH

12

OK

1

OR

1

PA

11

RI

1

SC

1

SD

0

TN

5

TX

18

UT

6

VA

13

VT

0

WA

12

WI

2

WV

0

WY

0

Comments:

We wanted to look at how dentists in each state were positioning themselves on Facebook.  It would be reasonable to assume that the Facebook’s search mechanism would have yielded results for the terms searched, but it did not.  We were surprised by the results of this query (Dentist, State, [full name and then abbreviated].  When the results came back, we believed there was an error in Facebook’s search mechanism. We attempted the query again and achieved the same results.

As a result we added major cities and metropolitan areas to the search to explore the search. For example in Texas, we chose and Houston and Dallas, in Illinois we chose Chicago, while in Idaho we selected Boise and so on.  Results of the cities are included in the final State count above.

We also know that that there are many more dentists on Facebook.  There are many dentists whose profiles are set up as a “person.”  These dentists were excluded from this search because one must first know about the dentist, then request them as a friend and wait. We believe, based on experience and nothing more, that it is highly unlikely that potential patients would take this route.

Facebook Property Types: Fan Page vs. Group

We wanted to see the prevalence of facebook presence type, whether dentists are using facebook “groups” or “fan pages.” Of those dentists who had facebook presence that appeared in our search, 48 (20%) established a “group,” while 181 (80%) established a “fan page.”

Chart 1: Number of Dentists with “Group” vs. “Pages” On Facebook

Chart 2: Percent of Dentists with “Group” vs. “Pages” On Facebook

Understanding The “Social” Network

Facebook is a social network allowing people to connect with people, goods, services, brands and more.  The number of relevant people in a dentist’s network is only one, yet critical element, of success on Facebook.  The more people in a network the greater the influence and ripple-effects a dental office will achieve on Facebook (introductions, friends of friends joining a group or fan page, and so on).  Of course, engagement is just as crucial, and that will be discussed later in this study.

We broke up the number of “friends” into four categories as follows:  0 friends, 1 – 100 friends, 101 – 500 friends, and more than 500 friends.   We found 6 dentists with zero friends (3%), thirty-seven dentists had at least 101, and no more than 500 friends (16%), 181 or 79% of dentists had between 1 and 100 friends, and five dentists representing 2%, had more than 500 friends.

Chart 3: Percent of Dentists with “Group” vs. “Pages” On Facebook

Chart 4: Percent of Dentists with “Group” vs. “Pages” On Facebook

Measuring Activity: Relevance The Key to Engagement

Facebook, by nature, is a medium of engagement, providing businesses, in this case dental practices, the opportunity to engage the audience with relevant information and activities.  Activity on Facebook, like elsewhere, and especially in marketing, does not necessarily translate into productivity.  Activity must be relevant to the network. The more relevant engagement, the better a dental practice positions itself with its members or friends.

We measured both how often a dental practice posted to Facebook over the past 3 months. We defined the time intervals as follows:

  • Never – no posts
  • Seldom – less than one post per month
  • Monthly – At least one post per month
  • Often – At least one post per week

To our surprise we found 108 dentists (47%) did not have any posts on their Facebook page or group, while 30% of dentists in this study seldom posted on their Facebook property.   Only 37 dentists representing 16% posted monthly while 15 dentists or 7% posted often.

Chart 5: Frequency of Posts

Chart 6: Percent of Frequency of Posts

Moreover, we wanted to better understand the type of posts dentists were utilizing on their Facebook properties.  Since frequency, type and quality of posts matter when engaging a Facebook audience, we define both the type and quality posts as follows:

  • Providing dental care information
  • Soliciting feedback from patients
  • Games / Contests
  • Incentives
  • Other Social Networking Integration to sites such as Twitter, Youtube, or blogs
  • Advertising integration – integrating any offline advertising with Facebook
  • Links to the practice’s website

We found that 159 dentists or 69% had links to their websites, 3 dentists or 1% included offline advertising integration, 13 or 6% integrated other social media properties such as Twitter or Youtube, 7 dentists or 3% offered games or contests, 6 or 2.5% solicited feedback, 34 dentists or 15% offered incentives to use the dental practice’s services, while 7 offered health and dental information.

Chart 7 – Integration of Other Media / Engagement Mechanisms

Observations & Outcomes

Lack of Robust Search On Facebook Hinders Search For Dental Practices

Facebook’s growth continues at a staggering pace and as does time-spent on Facebook. With that said, dentists must recognize its power to drive traffic to their websites. But they must also recognize that Facebook, at this time, is devoid of robust search capabilities.  The lack of robust search on Facebook appears to hinder dentists’ abilities to growing their Facebook presence.  While Facebook’s meager search capability presents a serious issue to dentists, it is incumbent upon the dentist to grow his/her network organically through strategic campaigns. The larger the relevant network, the more brand footprint.

According to MediaPost’s SearchBlog which cites a J.P. Morgan report, “Google currently generates about 36% of all online ad revenue by being at the center of the ecosystem…but Facebook proves to also do its share. Citing comScore, the report notes Facebook traffic to the New York Times rose 66% in October 2010, up from a year-ago month, while traffic from Google fell 2% during the same time period. Traffic from Facebook to Amazon sites rose 328%, compared with traffic from Google fell 2%, and traffic to eBay from Facebook rose 81%, while traffic from Google fell 3%.”  It is crucial to understand that these brands work diligently and actively to grow their Facebook properties organically, through relevant posts, engagement campaigns, and advertising on facebook, thereby increasingly their traffic yield.

As more dentists become aware of Facebook’s search inefficiencies, they must adjust their social media strategies accordingly.  Because of Facebook’s search deficits, dentists are forced to grow their networks organically, by adding or “friending” people manually, or advertising on Facebook to promote their practice.

Conclusion

Dentists must adopt a “network growth” model.  They must be strategic about increasing the number of people in their relevant network on Facebook and offering the network sustained content to keep members engaged.  It appears that Facebook’s search function will pick up the exact search only if the title of the group or the fan page has the same terms used for search.

Small Audience, Little Effort

Our sample revealed that a majority of dentists on Facebook have a small audience with 79% having between 1 and 100 friends.  Audience size matters in any media, and Facebook provides the opportunity to develop a relevant, targeted audience. Our findings show a relatively small audience and it appears that there is also little effort in developing content to make dental Facebook pages more “sticky,” and therefore engaging to members.

Lack of Relevant Activity Hinders Engagement With Dental Practices

From our sample, we noticed a lack of relevant activity. Almost half of the total dentist Facebook properties we observed had no posts.  Facebook is a medium of engagement, and dentists must develop a strategic plan that is on-brand to push out to their network. Dental health information, not related to sales, may better position a dental practice’s Facebook presence as a source of information, and may allow members to share that information, which may include, the Facebook page with others, thereby exponentially exposing that particular dental group or fan pages to people it otherwise may not have touched previously.

Social Search Implications

Facebook provides a forum for conversation where people often ask for recommendations, opinions, and so on. Social recommendations are part and parcel of daily life on Facebook, and recommendations are asked for and given freely.  Facebook CTO Bret Taylor echoes that idea in a blog post. According to Taylor: “Your friends have liked lots of things all over the web, and now instead of stumbling across a new movie or having to look at a friend’s profile to see which restaurants they like…” Similarly, someone may look at friend’s profile and find a dentist’s page and may inquire about that dentist to their friend.

Having a robust Facebook page or group goes a long way to appropriately representing your practice in a professional manner.  Offline implications come into play here as well, treating a patient in a manner that they expect offline, will affect they way a dental practice is portrayed online in social network.

Serious Brand Implications

There are serious brand implications in any and every marketing communications campaign, on Facebook or off.  Like a website, magazine or television advertising, Facebook properties offer visitors insights to the dental office.  How a Facebook page is organized, the types and frequency of posts will convey certain messages (positive, negative, or neutral) to the visitor. Appropriate maintenance of information and content, or lack thereof, do have implications on the name and brand of the dental practice.  In addition, Facebook provides dentists with a key platform to achieve integration of off and online marketing efforts by bringing together offline advertising, including television, billboards, and brochures, etc.

Finally…

While social networking or marketing can help advance the marketing agenda for dentists, social marketing must be seen through the prism of strategy.  In this case, we continue to advocate for integrated marketing and public relations strategies for dentists, in which social media, is one element.

————

Copyright Verasoni, 2011. All Rights Reserved.



The article below was featured in The River View Observer on September 10, 2009. You can view it by clicking here or reading it below.

New Jersey Company Doing Their Part to Help Bring  Down Health Care Costs…

CAMBRIDGE MEDCOM ANNOUNCES EFFICIENT REMEDY FOR HEALTHCARE MARKETING

New Plan by Cambridge MedCom Will Save Marketing Costs and Create Effective Strategies for Medical, Dental Practices, Hospitals

Healthcare Marketing Communications firm Cambridge MedCom has the prescription for healthcare providers looking to cut marketing costs and improve the bottom line.  According to Cambridge MedCom, using truly effective marketing tools can increase profits, cut costs, and allow healthcare providers to improve the quality of their services by reinvested otherwise wasted dollars into patient care.

Abe Kasbo, CEO of Verasoni Worldwide, the parent company of Cambridge MedCom estimates that the average medical or dental practice spends approximately $50,000  per year in marketing costs, and hospital marketing budgets can range from $500,000 to several million. “We’re in new world of engagement, not advertising.  Our clients know that they are no longer in control of their brand; their patients are now in control.

So how do you engage these folks?” Physicians, and dentists hire highly specialized marketing like designers for brochures or programmers for the web, who are good at what they do, but do not necessarily understand how to attract new patients,” says Kasbo. “In addition, we find medical, dental and hospital professionals usually expend their budget on tactics, rather than campaigns that are directly to business plan, leaving them with little to no return on investment. Cambridge MedCom helps healthcare professionals increase their business footprint, and save precious dollars by developing and executing integrated marketing plans, utilizing the internet as the center of their clients’ business universe.”

Physicians, dentists, and hospitals as well as other healthcare professionals continue to rely heavily on advertising, and are slow to adapt to the rapidly changing new media realities that can be leveraged to attract new patients, keep patient engaged with their brand. The Internet has changed the economics of healthcare marketing and radically impacted pricing on media buys, the ways people shop for healthcare services, and the way they interact with a healthcare brand.

Unfortunately too many medical providers are unaware of how this affects their bottom line, or they may not understand how to take advantage of the new opportunities. “All too often healthcare providers market without strategic plan, physicians and dentists are busy doing what they do best, which is providing patient care. They often “drop marketing bombs” by using singular tactics, which are very difficult to measure, and imprudent because you only have one data point to work with. For example you can’t just jump on Facebook and expect it to be effective by itself, because it’s about developing and sustaining a relevant network on Facebook.  In addition, Patient behavior tells us that people will join relevant social networks, but will go to the group’s main website, and if that’s not up to par with their expectation, then they will do two things, leave your group, and not do business with you because of your website. So because your website does not speak appropriately to your market, you’ve rendered your social networking efforts useless,” Kasbo states. Kasbo maintains that although online communications are now making a greater impact, the right media mix also encompasses vital offline communications and strategies, including a move towards patient engagement, and away from stale advertising techniques.

“The benefits of engagement are two-fold,” says Kasbo. “While clients save money by spending it more wisely on business-driven, effective campaigns which allows healthcare providers to invest the savings towards patient care. This way you not only save the healthcare provider money, but perhaps improve the quality of healthcare for their patients as well.”

Cambridge MedCom develops personalized plans for each practice that integrate all aspects of online and offline communications. The vital media mix will lead towards strong, strategic campaigns in which each marketing tactic complements works within an integrated plan.

The company believes that their plans will help redirect the future of healthcare marketing to be more beneficial for the patient, and not just the business. Cambridge MedCom’s practice has proven effective in the case of a plastic surgeon that previously overspent on advertising. Using Cambridge MedCom’s plan, the company was able to cut costs by about 25%, increase his exposure through a tailored integrated plan of Web, social media, advertising, public relations and events. Cambridge MedCom was able to increase the doctor’s business by 12% while saving him approximately 25%.

Another individually tailored case involved a pain management practice whose campaign costs were cut by 1/3 and incorporated physician networking events to meet referring physicians. Kasbo points out that while the events required more effort than simply advertising, the return on investment was greater, thus driving the cost per effective impression down, and the return on investment up.

Plans developed by Cambridge MedCom begin with strategy as a foundation, and are supported by strong tactics. Cambridge MedCom firmly believes in this strategy-based model due to the truth that tactics are dispensable, while strategy is not.



Aug 01, 2009 – Bergenfield, NJ – Dr. Nicholas Bochi, a leading dentist in Bergenfield, New Jersey announced today the launching of the practice’s new website, http://www.BergenSmiles.com, as a key part of a new patient outreach and branding strategy for the Bergen County dentist. Dr. Bochi is one of a few dentists in the United States to have earned the highest degrees and multiple designations in the field. The Bergen Center for Advanced Dentistry continues its commitment to delivering first class dental health services to patients in Bergenfield, the greater Bergen County area, and Northern New Jersey.

“Everyone in our practice is committed to providing both the highest of dental care and excellent service. Our commitment to continuing education means that every patient will have access to the most advanced dental care, every time they walk through our doors,” said Dr. Nicholas Bochi. Dental services include: 24 Hour Emergency Care, Bonding, Bone Augmentation, Bridges, Crowns, Dental Hygiene, Dental implants, Dentures, Family Dentistry, Full Mouth Rehabilitation, Gum Contouring, High Technology Dentistry, Inlays and Onlays, Invisalign, Laser Teeth Whitening, Lumineers, Metal Free Fillings, Mini Implants, Night Guards, Oral Cancer Screening, Over-denture Implants, Periodontic Treatment, Porcelain Veneers, Preventative Treatment, Restorative Treatment, Root Canal Therapy, Sealants, Sinus Augmentation, Smile Enhancement, Smile Imaging, Socket Preservation, Zoom!, Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD), and TMJ Treatment.

Visitors to both the website and the Youtube channel – http://www.youtube.com/BergenSmiles – can also view videos of Dr. Bochi and patients sharing their experience with the Bergen Center for Advanced Dentistry. To learn more visit http://www.bergensmiles.com. The Bergen Center for in Bergenfield, New Jersey 22 North Washington Avenue, Bergenfield, NJ 07621. The office may be reached at 201.384.4454.

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A couple of weeks ago, I read an article about social networking in a leading New Jersey business magazine. The story quoted several New Jersey based marketing firm execs who weighed in on social networking. The article found a consensus among these folks who opined correctly that social networking is still in its infancy, but wondered about the direct relationship between social networking and the bottom line. The article went on to say the following [editor's note - I have removed the names to protect the innocent]:

  • “I think most people are probably savvy enough to know you can’t draw a line directly from a Facebook page to the impact on the bottom line,” but     building relationships with constituents through social sites will ultimately contribute to a company’s success, he said, in ways that may not be quantifiable.
  • [Name Removed] compares the push to participate in social media to the early days of companies seeking higher ranking on Web search engines. With social media still in its early stages, [Name Removed] said there are no proven methods of how best to reach customers.  [Name Removed] said while many companies want to engage in social media-based marketing, she warns that few know what to expect. Taking time to understand how the new playground functions can save businesses from a few headaches. “Corporate America isn’t quite ready for this interactive marketing highway that we are going on,” she said. “With this two-way street, they can’t control [the interaction] anymore.”

While the article suggested, correctly, that social marketing efforts ought to be tied into integrated marketing efforts, it completely ignored certain business driven realities of the medium and went on to substantiate the experience of those quoted in the article.  I called the reporter to let him know that, indeed, you can quantify the contributions of social networking to the bottom line. I provided the reporter with several cases from our firm showing him the direct correlation between successful social networking efforts and the bottom line. Other firms who work within, and understand the nature of the medium have done the same for their clients.  The reporter rationalized that the purpose of the column was simply to point out that social networking is no panacea, that there are still miles to go before we perfect the medium for business.  Agreed and if you read my previous posts on this blog, you’ll see how much I agree. But as much as I agree, I cannot accept the fact that the other side was not told.

The truth is that social networking takes work. It takes time, it takes strategy, and moves in real time.  This is not easy, and not easily explainable. And yet, we have the other extreme where the corporate business media make it sound like you can sign up for Twitter and make a million dollars.  The blinding speed in which people adopt, and are attracted to social networking, certainly does not help.  Which means, that as marketing/advertising/PR/communications professionals, we have to stay not only on top of what is happening, but provide meaningful interpretation for our clients in order to best leverage the medium to advance their business goals.

But there are certain realities that marketing and PR folks will not speak about in public. Frankly many traditional marketing firms are very, very afraid of social networking, because social networking, if done right, is a game changer, an eminent threat to their bottom line.  Much like the Internet decimated newspapers because of their their head in the sand rigidity about protecting their revenue stream, newspapers were like the proverbial frog who hangs out in a slowly boiling pot until it’s too late. Traditional marketing and PR firms will soon suffer the same fate, unless they begin to change their business model, and delve deeper into social networking to uncover real value and meaning for their clients.

Take a look at the last quote above from the article. With all due respect to the depth and breadth of the experience of the marketing executives who were quoted, but, have these people been on the Internet? Have they looked around to see how “corporate America” is utilizing social networking and the web? Have they seen major international / national brands direct people from TV commercials straight to their Facebook, rather than their own websites?  Do they realize that “marketing and advertising” or a very good portion of it, is so 20th century, and engagement is about today and tomorrow. Have they heard of the iPhone and it’s billion dollar earning apps?  I am sure that these folks have heard the calls of major brands like Procter and Gamble, American Express, Verizon, who understand that their businesses indeed do not have control of their brands, but they’ve adapted by developing strategies to engage their customers to proselytize for them and advance their business.  Have they attended the many leading conferences, where the Global marketers have called on Madison Avenue to stop wasting their money and their time?

Head in the sand strategy seemed to have worked fine for our banking system, right? I make the same analogy here, marketing and advertising firms have a responsibility to their clients rethink and reshape the way they do business. Because like newspapers, if they keep the old model close to their vest because they don’t understand the realities of the day…well, need I say more…

I’ll post about the imperfection of social networking in my next blog…more to come.


Fairfield, New Jersey.  March 10, 2009.  The Dental Studies Institute, a leading provider of continuing dental education, announced today the selection of Cambridge MedCom, Verasoni Worldwide’s Healthcare Division, as agency of record. Cambridge MedCom will be responsible for developing comprehensive marketing strategies, including the Institute’s online brand launch.  “We’re excited to be working with the people at Cambridge MedCom. It’s their depth of understanding and experience in both healthcare and the marketing worlds that made them an ideal marketing partner for us,” said Lois D’Apuzzo, Director of the Dental Studies Institute.

“The Dental Studies Institute has helped thousands of dental professionals over the years, and we’re excited about the opportunity to help build their brand on and off line.” said Abe Kasbo, CEO of Verasoni Worldwide.

The mission of Dental Studies Institute is to provide high quality continuing education programs using the highest educational standards. The educational activities are designed to review existing concepts and techniques, to convey information beyond the basic education and to update knowledge on advances in the chosen profession. The objective is to improve the practitioner’s knowledge, skills and ability to serve the public.

Verasoni Worldwide is a fiercely independent, diversified strategic marketing and public relations firm with clients in healthcare, financial services, media, hospitality, and government services. Verasoni delivers innovative, integrated marketing and public relations strategies across traditional and new media platforms.

Cambridge MedCom’s web portal will launch at the end of March 2009.

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