I am delighted to let you know that the Wisconsin Society of Orthodontists (WSO) Consumer Awareness Program (CAP) is officially underway! Our matching grant application was recently approved by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and we received an equal match of $12,500. We now have a $25,000 CAP budget to be used between November 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017.
The goal of the program is to educate the public on the difference between a General Dentist and an Orthodontist when it comes to providing orthodontic treatment. The WSO will be utilizing Social Media (Facebook) advertising and other Search Engine Marketing (SEM) techniques to get their message out to the public. Materials used will be created and provided by the AAO’s marketing firm, Athorn Clark and Partners. In addition, $2500 of the total funds will be used to update the current WSO website and to make the site responsive. Although there are other marketing options, the WSO board thought these were the most cost effective strategies to begin with. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of this program and will report back to the WSO members on a regular basis to keep you informed.
We can all agree that the orthodontic landscape is changing at an alarming rate. Orthodontic consumers do not know the difference between an Orthodontist and a General Dentist when it comes to aligning teeth. Consumers assume “anyone” can do our job. It is time we band together as a specialty and educate the public on the massive difference between a General Dentist and an Orthodontist. There is no one who can provide orthodontics better than an Orthodontist!
I think we can learn a lot from our medical colleagues on what not to do when it comes to marketing and competition. How many TV advertisements do you see from our friends in Ophthalmology? These offices spend thousands of dollars competing against each other. Maybe their money would be better spent educating the public on the benefit of eye care instead of trying to drive patients to their offices by offering massive discounts. Furthermore, our friends in automobile sales may have figured out that marketing together is more efficient and effective than marketing alone. While watching the next Packer game, look to see how many Ford or GM commercials are sponsored by multiple dealerships throughout the area. A unified voice prevails.
Our local marketing campaign will only be successful if every office makes a pledge to participate. You cannot expect that the WSO CAP program will drive patients to your office unless you put the time into using and reposting the advertisements we have created. The AAO website is loaded with free consumer awareness educational materials that every office should use. In addition, Google advertising will have great reach but an easy way to educate your local community and future patient base is to have a healthy and vibrant Facebook page. If you have not created your Facebook page, please delegate this to a staff member. It will literally take them 15 minutes to set up for you. Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and it is a very effective way of reaching the demographic we serve.
I am confident the CAP will be successful. My hope is each of you will see the benefit of this program and we can continue to grow it in the future. Who knows, maybe next year we will be discussing a larger budget with radio and/or television advertising. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. Let’s take back our specialty!
Michael J Maslowski DDS, MS
President of the WSO