A DSO Marketing Blueprint to Build Patient Loyalty and Experiences

Pearl Street Dental Partners is a Texas-based dental services organization made up of exceptional people creating extraordinary experiences for patients and each other. 

Samantha Morrow Watkins

In a recent podcast episode released by Group Dentistry Now, Samantha Morrow Watkins, Head of Marketing at Pearl Street Dental Partners, discusses four marketing strategies within her organization that made business boom. The approach was built to tailor everything from the patient experience to their advertising efforts and uses personalization every step of the way.

This content has been edited for clarity.

1. In a people-focused healthcare landscape, it’s all about the art of personalization

GDN: How is marketing for a DSO or a brand unique compared to other healthcare verticals?

Samantha Morrow Watkins: Dentistry is probably the most patient or just people-focused type of healthcare there is, because you’re not marketing to a business, and you’re also not marketing to just anybody. And with that comes a lot of personalization.

It used to be that all of the dental practices were named after the doctor, so there used to be more personal elements. Now you’re seeing a lot of centers and family dentistry where it’s not focused around one person. And sometimes that’s really scary for a patient.

Additionally, patients aren’t really interested in stock images or a generic caption or a generic ad. They’re really looking for why I should pick you over the many dental offices that are everywhere — so creating campaigns that are highly personalized, depict office culture, and work to eliminate fear is a primary focus.”

2. Enhance visibility and reputation with a clear strategy

GDN: What steps do you take when you bring on a practice and add your marketing expertise, where it’s no longer the dentist or an office manager?

Samantha Morrow Watkins: The vast majority of the time, we have an office that wants to make a transition from general dentistry to cosmetics. They are struggling with new patients, they’re struggling with reviews and we will build an introductory campaign to address those things.

One of the best examples is one of the offices that we just brought on, and they had a very outdated website and we knew that we were going to need to change it but they were doing no marketing at all. So it’s been about a four-month process to just learn about the office, get some media taken of them, write a plan, write a branding proposal and actually get their website up and running.

3. Leverage membership plans to better attract and retain patients

GDN: What are your thoughts on dental membership plans and do you have any considerations or recommendations as it relates to a practices marketing strategy? 

Samantha Morrow Watkins: We work with practices all the time that partner with us that have never used a membership plan. We get some that have tried to do it themselves and build an in-house plan but are often overwhelmed with how to manage it effectively.

For us Kleer has been a very fabulous partner to work with. It’s one of my go-to marketing strategies, especially in our more rural communities or in a full fee-for-service office that isn’t in network. Kleer has been a great option for patients to still come see the providers that they’ve loved for a long time with access to transparent plans and pricing. Plus they provide everything from collateral to talk-tracks to market the plans successfully.

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4. Harness the power of collaboration

GDN: With a large pool of offices, can you talk a little bit more about your relationship with operations teams as it relates to marketing initiatives?

Samantha Morrow Watkins: The most successful offices that we have in our family are ones where we have a great relationship with the operations team and they take our feedback, they run with it.

I can only look at data so much. I can memorize trends, I know what’s going on, but there’s another element behind it. And if I don’t have a regional manager or an operations person who can fully integrate the picture for me, then I’m going to be throwing darts at a dart board and not actually know what I’m looking at. Which is why the relationship between marketing and operations is so important. 

The secret to Pearl Street’s rapid rise and ongoing success

GDN: What are your thoughts about the future of Pearl Street and where you see the organization headed in the next couple of years? 

Samantha Morrow Watkins: One thing that’s really unique about Pearl Street is all of our offices are individually branded. That’s a very big part of our culture. A lot of what we look for in an office is to have them maintain some form of autonomy and we prefer the owner doctor to stay. We realize that this person has built something really special. We’ve been fortunate to have so many dentists who want to grow with us and now work with 36 offices with 34 brands. 

In a short time span we have gone from 10 to 36 locations. I don’t see us slowing down anytime soon. But at our core, Pearl Street is about people first. We want to provide an extraordinary and exceptional patient experience and hold onto that core, no matter how big we get.

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