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Perception Agency is a Melbourne-based digital, marketing and content creation agency, helping dental practices grow and engage with their patients.

We sat down with Founder, dental practice owner and consultant, Kaine Harling, to find out what drives him to deliver great results for practices and what the secret to dental marketing success really is.

Perception Agency Founder, dental practice owner and consultant, Kaine Harling

Perception Agency Founder, dental practice owner and consultant, Kaine Harling

What were you doing before founding Perception Agency? Tell us about your background in the dental industry. 

I’ve been involved in both media advertising and the dental industry over the past 20 years. First working on national marketing campaigns to owning and managing my own practice. I have since been closely involved in developing effective marketing strategies to maximise productivity and practice growth, including consulting and workshops.

On a daily basis, I’m consulting for about 18 different dental practices.

Where did the idea for Perception come from? Was there a gap for effective marketing in the dental industry?

As a practice owner myself, I found there was a one-size-fits-all approach when it came to marketing for dental practices.

But through working closely with practices internally, I saw that effective dental marketing required a much more personal approach. 

What sets Perception apart from other agencies?

Our understanding very much comes from an owners perspective. Even though the cost to acquire a new patient can vary, their true value to the practice really falls on the shoulders of practice retention through excellent clinical care and the overall patient experience. Our process can effectively manage this whole process from beginning to end.

Why is marketing so important, especially for dental practices?

Dentistry has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. 

Patient expectations are a lot different today. In the past, most of your new patients came through word-of-mouth. But today there’s a greater demand for a much more informed and personalised process, therefore every step of the patient experience has become even more important.

To engage with patients you really need to have a much different approach. Every practice needs to have their own point of difference and will often compete in different areas both demographically and geographically. What sets the best apart is how they align themselves to the personas of their prospective patients – to really connect with them.

What are some of the key issues dentists are facing?

Retention is a key issue. Most practices are like a leaky bucket, you can generate as many leads as you like but it’s really important that the patient experience is there so you don’t just lose them after one visit.

When you really dig into it, the average retention rate for a practice is often around 30-50% which is not a sustainable model.

Where do most practices fall down?

Like most professional services, I find most practices I engage with have been following their competitors. This has always been quite a tradition in the industry. Dentistry has always taken and should always take a very conservative approach, so a lot of practices find it hard to deviate in an effective way that still respects the industry. 

I believe that’s where finding a marketing agency that understands the internal operations of practices can offer the best guidance for success.

Does success come from an integrated approach to marketing?

Most definitely. We have found the best results are achieved by delivering a consistent message both internally and externally across multiple platforms. The patient experience often begins online and really needs to flow seamlessly through into the practice setting.

As part of your website builds, you integrate HealthEngine’s Online Booking System. Why is that?

I believe an online booking system is paramount to any practice when it comes to growth.

One of the things that really drew me to HealthEngine was not only the ease of usability but also the comfort of security and privacy. It gives assurity to both practices and patients. 

The true value of HealthEngine lies in their existing and expansive patient network, along with their ability to help promote your practice online. Being able to integrate their own network directly to your PMS appointment book, means that your outreach to prospective patients is far greater than just linking your available appointments to your website.

Do you recommend HealthEngine to practices you work with in general? 

I frequently recommend HealthEngine to practices. Firstly, both the overall patient and practice process is very streamlined, making it simple and easy to implement into practices that are looking to offer online bookings and increase new patient numbers. HealthEngine also has an effective way of making sure all patient bookings are as legitimate and authentic as possible. 

The other reason is the convenience that the online booking system offers all patients. To be able to book appointments after-hours when the family is together, or when you finally unwind after a busy day is a service offering that is highly valuable to any practice.

Do you find HealthEngine offers a positive return on investment?

Definitely! We find one of the major reasons for one of our websites converting well is HealthEngine. Having a simple and effective call to action, users want to visit a website that has the convenience of being able to book immediately, rather than have to call back during business hours.

In fact, the recent conversion rate has increased by around 28-30% on average for every practice that we integrate with HealthEngine.

It’s also incredibly positive when you look at the average cost per acquisition for a new patient. If you were to run say an Adwords campaign, the average cost per acquisition can often be between $200-$300. With HealthEngine it’s $59. 

Do you think HealthEngine should be part of every dental practice’s marketing plan?

Through my experience I strongly believe that there are many factors that need to be considered when a practice is developing an effective marketing strategy. 

Considering the long term benefits HealthEngine offers to both patient retention and your online presence, I highly recommend HealthEngine as an integral part of every practice’s marketing plan.

What advice would you give to dental practices when it comes to their marketing?

It all starts with understanding your position in the market, and your distinct point of difference that you offer your patients. Put simply, no marketing plan is as effective nor will it reach its potential if it’s the same or similar to your competitors. Show your patients what you stand for and how your values are in-line with the ones you truly want to attract.

There are many ways to ineffectively market your practice and that approach can be very costly.

If you’d like to get in touch with Kaine or the team at Perception Agency about your marketing, visit their website.

Want to know 4 simple steps to fill your appointment book? Read our Dental Marketing 101 article here.

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