Dentistry’s “Clean” Little Secrets
By Daniel A. Bobrow, MBA (University of Chicago) & MBA (K.U.L. Belgium)
Do Well By Doing Good – Ben Franklin
Americans give at an astounding rate. In 2007, U.S. citizens privately gave $295 billion to charity. That’s more than the entire gross domestic product of all but about twenty-five nations in the world.* And that does not account for the ‘in kind’ giving, that is, donations of clothing, services, and other non-monetary assistance.
My experience suggests that those in the dental profession are well above average when it comes to being generous.
Anyone who has volunteered on an overseas dental project, worked in a soup kitchen, raised money for a worthwhile cause, or performed some similar selfless act already knows that, when we give of ourselves, we invariably get much more than we give.
And that leads us to the second secret.
Studies have shown that, given a choice between similar service providers, consumers will choose the one demonstrating social responsibility. A survey by The Golin Harris Group finds Americans are sending a clear message to Corporate America: Do more, be authentic, and the business rewards will follow.**
Since 1998 the Climb For A Cause© / Smile Tree© Foundation has helped dental practices across North America realize the simple, but powerful truth that, when a practice commits itself to making a positive difference, practice growth is an unavoidable consequence of that commitment.
Don’t take our word for it.
Here’s what Pennwell Publishing’s Joe Blaes wrote about CFAC in 2009:
… In essence, CFAC helps dental practices follow Ben Franklin’s sage advice to “do well by doing good.” Each year, CFAC organizes an event that involves dental practitioners and other industry members trekking through a spectacular mountainous area and raising money to provide needed dental care in the process. …There are many ways to participate. To learn more, visit www.climbforacause.org, or stay tuned to future issues of Dental Economics®.
And consider this excerpt from a Time Magazine poll (see 9/10/09 Issue):
we…look[ed] at how people are serving these days. The most striking results centered not on volunteering but on the cash register…[even] as people acknowledged that times were tough, 38% of Americans 18 and older, some 86 million people, reported…buying green products and goods from companies they thought had responsible values.
In other words, doing ‘good’ can also mean doing well.
Making It Happen
So, just how does one conceive and implement an effective cause-marketing++ strategy?
Let’s use the example of The Smile Tree+.
The Smile Tree offers practices the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of children in developing nations, while making a positive impact with their patients of record and their community too. It also offers fun and rewarding ways to show you care without ever having to leave your home town. Practices simply agree to ‘adopt’ one or more dental projects and, by so doing, becoming a ‘ Branch Office ‘ of the Smile Tree.
Branch Offices receive an array of tools for sharing their good works with current patients, and the community at large. Some of these include: In-Office Display Materials such as posters, lapel buttons, floss cards, and more to communicate with patients the practice’s status as a Smile Tree Branch Office. Participating practices also receive press releases to local media notifying them, and the community they serve, of their status as a Branch Office, as well as a fund raising page linked from the practice’s website home page, which drives traffic to the practice site. Practices also receive periodic communications (letters, photos and drawings ) from those whose lives have been touched through the practice’s involvement and generosity.
There are a number of fun and simple ways to ‘grow the Smile Tree’, that is, to fund raise. Examples include: offering patients the option of helping grow the Smile Tree by “adding a dollar to today’s treatment” and offering to match it, including a note on monthly billing statements thanking patients for growing the Smile Tree and inviting them to learn more by visiting the practice website, from which a link to the fundraising page resides. As people donate, their name is automatically added to the roster of giving patients.
But by far the best way to both generate funds and grow the practice is by having a party. Because I also run a dental marketing firm, I offer, as a token of our appreciation to the Branch Office, complimentary assistance with organizing, promoting, and staging a successful local event.
Don’t Just Do It, Do It Right
Whatever cause you choose to support, remember that the more people you involve in your efforts, the more good you do for your selected charity. Just don’t be surprised if, in the process, you also end up with a bigger, more successful practice.
*Marriott Alumni Magazine, Brigham Young University.
**GolinHarris 2006 Corporate Citizenship Index
+Smile Tree and Climb For A Cause are 501c(3) non-profit corporations.
++ I define Cause-Related Marketing as: The process by which an individual or organization seeks to achieve one or more business objectives as a consequenceof its commitment to some form of philanthropy.
Issue XIX addresses the vital importance of what happens after a prospective patient calls your practice
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