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Unexpected Results from Marketing Gum Disease Awareness

By Rachel Moody, MBA on January 9, 2017 in Dental Business, Dental Marketing, Gum Disease

Six years ago I was your typical dental patient.  I visited your office once a year for my cleaning, used my electric toothbrush, had my amalgam fillings replaced with composite and the one obligatory root canal that seems to come with age.  Six years ago I knew nothing about gum disease.

What the dental profession knows about the severity, the prevalence, and the systemic connections of the disease came as an utter shock to me.  What I couldn’t believe is that no one talks about it!

Fight Gum Disease

We started the Fight Gum Disease campaign in 2011 to increase awareness of the prevalence and total health impact of gum disease.  Today 49 US States and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico, plus several Canadian cities, have recognized February as Gum Disease Awareness Month.  (In case you’re wondering, the lone holdout state is California- sadly, my home state.)  Despite this significant milestone, the Fight isn’t over…now it’s in YOUR hands.

 Why It Matters

Over 85% of the US Adult population has some level of gum disease. Only 40% of those know they have the disease. Even worse, only 3% of those who do know actually accept treatment. Gum disease has long been associated with heart disease, stroke and pre-term birth. Now we know gum disease is also linked to obesity, Alzheimer’s, pancreatic cancer, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, breast cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.

What You Can Do

By sharing the Fight Gum Disease campaign with your local community, you can increase education and awareness.  Use the power of marketing for good!  Kirk W. Noraian, DDS, MS, MBA shared how his office used the power of education to create a marketing campaign that changed his office.

Marketing Fight Gum Disease – How One Office Did it Successfully

Dr. Noraian took the opportunity to launch a direct-to-consumer marketing campaign by building public awareness of this largely under-diagnosed health threat. This was their first direct-to-consumer (DTC) campaign.

  1. Enlist Expert Help: If you haven’t done a DTC campaign before, reach out to a local marketing agency for assistance.
  2. Focus on Education: Noraian’s office focused on public health awareness by offering educational tips in a visually appealing manner, along with comprehensive periodontal exams and full-mouth radiographs at no charge during February.
  3. Campaign Consistently: In dentistry, you can fill a cavity once and solve the problem.  In marketing, you will need to repeat your message several times, in multiple locations (think print/social media/local press releases) to create momentum.  Noraian ran this campaign during the first quarter as a rapid-fire, three-month blitz. They allocated a budget of 2% of monthly production for a three-month period using social media, local newspaper ads, radio, and letters to referring doctors.

Unexpected Results

What Dr. Noraian found was that the experience with this campaign changed their office in ways they did not anticipate and that return on investment is not always measured by numbers.

  • New focus on the customer and increase in services: The letter to referring doctors opened up the lines of communication between offices and highlighted the need to develop relationships between the staffs.  They now encourage face time with referring dental offices by delivering patient updates and reports in person.  Yes, having a staff member out of the office may have an impact on one day’s productivity, but it can increase overall services.  Who are you more likely to do business with? The person you see and chat with, or the faceless name on the sheet of paper?
  • More Efficient Schedule: Before the campaign, they struggled with a schedule. After the campaign they revised scheduling policies to make work flow more efficiently. Surgeries are booked in the morning with lighter work in the afternoon. They’ve found following this schedule helps meet daily production goals and provides time for charitable care.
  • Updated Materials: There is an old adage that says “people don’t know what they don’t know.” Dr. Noraian’s office developed various take-aways that better explained how their office works and the support services offered. People do not realize how great you are unless they are told – so tell them!
  • Long-term Community Awareness: While they didn’t see a surge of new patients or set record growth numbers, they found that the consumer awareness campaign positioned them locally as a resource for patients and peers. This recognition makes the entire team feel rejuvenated and enthusiastic about their daily work. The awareness created for the practice and services in our area is the ROI they never knew was needed.

Fight Gum Disease – Resources

Now is the time to take up the Fight against Gum Disease! Go big like Dr. Noraian’s office –or start smaller this year.  Use your practice Facebook account to focus on gum disease in February.  Start with a post on February 1 that explains the importance of gum disease, and follow up with posts on the impact systemic connections.  Use content from the Facebook for Fight Gum Disease, or the website for easy ideas.

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