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When something doesn’t go quite the way we want, it’s easy to point the finger at external factors. We are usually reluctant to admit that we ourselves might be responsible for an unwanted outcome. Business owners — like myself and the dentists I work with — can be very prideful and don’t always want to think that maybe they’re the reason why opportunities aren’t turning into customers (or patients in our case), so you usually just focus on the source (ie. leads or opportunities), rather than thinking about your own internal processes.
I know this because I have witnessed it and done it myself in the past. As a marketing agency, the whole purpose of my company is to create opportunities for the dental practices we serve to capture new business, and we are largely responsible for the types of opportunities the practices receive. But is it our fault that these opportunities do not turn into new patients? Maybe, but also, maybe not.
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Collaboration is key
Marketing agencies are often blamed for producing low-quality leads, and the same goes for a highly specialized agency like mine that only works with dental offices. In theory, however, the quality of the extracts we produce for the practice mostly depends on how specific the parameters are for these contacts, which is the information we get from the practice itself. Of course, the more precisely we can define the types of potential clients they want to attract, the better chance we have of being able to target that demographic within that area. This does not mean that every lead generated will be perfect, but many of them will be perfect or close to it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll never stop saying it: Marketing is a joint effort between agency and client. The more you can work together and develop synergy, the better the outcome will be. dr. David Pearce, a highly respected New York dentist who worked with my agency and now consults with practices on this topic, agrees with me. In a recent article he wrote, “The better the dentist understands the marketing company and vice versa, the more they can help each other.” He knows that to get the leads the practice wants, he needs to work with a marketing agency to help them understand the needs of the practice.
Of course, some businesses might find it difficult to define their ideal customer or prospect, and that’s perfectly understandable, especially if you’ve never taken the time to really break it down. But this is also where a marketing agency can be a great advantage. Marketing professionals are experts at studying to get answers. The more a business owner is willing to participate in this process, the better they will get leads and the less they will have to “weed out” to weed the bad ones out of the mix.
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Put your process to the test
What if you have a lot of leads, but those leads aren’t converting into customers? So is the marketing agency to blame? If these potential clients do not meet the quality parameters you have established with the agency, then the agency bears part of the responsibility. However, if those contacts are consistently good quality, meaning they check most if not all the boxes, then you may need to look internally to understand the disconnect.
Let’s take an example from my experience of marketing dental practices. Let’s say a dentist gets 100 good leads from a marketing agency, but only 15 of those leads convert (ie become follow-on patients). That’s definitely a low number. But is it because the leads aren’t good enough, or is it because there’s some sort of flaw in the practice’s sales process? Again, this is where a marketing agency can be a great partner. If a dentist is willing to let a marketing agency scrutinize the sales process from start to finish, they can identify any weaknesses that could prevent prospects from converting to patients.
dr. Pearce also explained this in his article, adding, “While a marketing firm can’t make the necessary changes, the best marketing firms have internal mechanisms to help each of their clients improve this process.” So while the marketing agency may not be to blame for the low conversion rate, they can still help increase that rate to a more acceptable figure, as long as the dentist is willing to work with them.
However, in my experience, quality leads don’t always become quality patients right away. You can contact them and persuade them to book their first appointment, but the work should not end there. As Dr. Pearce says, “Quality patients don’t just walk into the office saying, ‘Doc, where have you been all my life?’ The best dentists have a system that meets each new patient where they are on their journey to say yes to optimal dentistry. From this starting point, the team will nurture and develop the patient’s understanding and value of optimal dental care.” The same is true for any type of business. Fortunately, if a business owner is not used to thinking about potential customers and customers in this way, there is help. A marketing agency can work with them to identify areas of opportunity and convert more leads into long-term, quality customers.
Related: 5 Things to Consider When Hiring a Marketing Agency
Rely on your partner, but also do your part
If sales and marketing don’t come naturally to you or your team, finding a good agency to partner with will make all the difference. However, for such a partnership to work, you must be open to possibilities and willing to change the way you approach and deal with potential clients. Be sure to ask your marketing partner if they offer sales training or resources to improve your sales approach. Sometimes they’ll have at least some materials you can use and share with your staff with a few tips on how to handle incoming leads.
My company offers resources on how to properly handle new, interested leads to teach office staff how to properly handle phone calls and submission forms from all digital marketing efforts. You can also ask your marketing company to record phone calls to get better insight into how your incoming calls are handled. This is a good way to provide concrete examples of what is going well and where your sales process may need improvement. In short, the more you make yourself and your staff available, the more productive your partnership will be.
It is also imperative that you are honest with your marketing partner. It is not enough to simply express your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the service. If you want to really capitalize on the partnership, provide the details. Take notes and tell your marketing agency exactly what you’re not happy with and why. Give real examples of what you see not working according to your expectations, especially when the relationship is new. When you provide detailed feedback, your marketing partner can better tailor and target campaigns to fit your specific needs, and together you’ll generate more quality leads.
Once things start rolling and you’ve found the sweet spot, be careful not to get complacent. It’s easy to fall back into old habits when things are going well, and then your results start to slip. To avoid this, ask your marketing partner to check in periodically (if they don’t already) for a status report. These occasional calls will help you and your partner keep your marketing strategies top of mind, and they’re also a good time to talk about what’s working and what’s not. Regular meetings keep your marketing partner informed and hold you and your staff accountable.
So who’s to blame when leads fail? Company or marketing agency? In my experience, it’s never anyone’s fault, and playing the blame game just doesn’t get you anywhere. Pointing the finger at a marketing agency for not generating quality leads or a company that dropped the ball with its sales process solves nothing. Real progress happens when the marketing agency and the company come together as partners to achieve better results.