Put It Out There For Free

Recently, I was asked to speak on marketing and social media.  Our large group pediatric dentistry and orthodontic practice requires a solid marketing plan to keep the practice healthy.  We actually spend more time that I think we should on what is vaguely called “marketing.”

Seth Godin, guru of the marketing world, a while back recommended aspiring writers to “give away” their first book?  Really? I can see writers saying, “No way.  I spent thousands of hours of effort on this thing to just give it away for free”.  How can this work?  As he explains, you gain a following, you gain (deserved) notoriety as an expert and authority.  Then, when your second book comes out, you have a built-in audience.

We as professionals, usually view with disdain trying to “sell” our services.  We want to spend time on dentistry and patient care.  We are above such pandering.  Still, in the modern marketplace, if you do not let people know who you are, what you do, and that you are accepting and want new patients, your practice will slowly whither away.  This is especially true of practices like Pediatrics and Orthodontics.  Your patients eventually grow up and need to be replaced with younger patients to maintain your practice.

I will not go into great detail on dental practice marketing, that would take several books worth of text and seminars to get all that across.  I will say, the number one way to grow your practice is by giving good service and the word of mouth that is generated from that.  Sometimes, however, that is not enough.  It is obvious that part of our profession is to give of our talents.  We do charity work, do overseas mission trips and work for free at local charity clinics.  There is great value just in that.  I think the general public has no real idea how much free service dentists give away every year, sometimes not by choice, -but I will not get into that here.

What I have tried to do with this blog is inform and entertain.  I don’t earn any money off this blog.  In essence, I give it, the content, away for free.  Why?  Well, first off, I just enjoy informing and educating.  I enjoy writing.  Secondly, in a business and marketing sense, reputation leads to increased business, to increased patients wanting your services.  They know you, they respect you because they know you know your stuff.

Other professionals are doing this and vary from musicians to English tailors.  I follow  a music group called Postmodern Jukebox.  They make music videos and post them online.  They are very good, but offer these online for free.  Now, after gaining notoriety, they are offering their songs on iTunes and are starting an American and European tour.  Another musician, Christopher Bill, a trombone player, makes free videos on his websites.  You may have heard of his version of “Happy.”  He now has an album on iTunes and is well known enough I am sure he is getting offers for paying gigs. An English tailor, Thomas Mahon  long ago began blogging about the inside details of his profession.  He now has a thriving business.

All these professionals offered the public something for free.  If anyone wanted to used their paid services, they were certainly welcome to do so, and many have.

So, if you are getting frustrated with your practice marketing, consider offering to be a speaker, offer seminars, blog, write, do online videos—all for free.  Now people can tell if your love it or not, if it is a chore or not.  In the process, you may actually help people.  You will help yourself as well through the process of creating content.  If you show your passion, it will show and return to you in time.