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Marketing for Dentists: An Interview with Xaña Winans, Founder and CEO of Golden Proportions Marketing

By Planet DDS
April 23, 2021

Xaña Winans was a guest speaker for our webinar earlier this year, and she shared a wealth of knowledge about marketing for dentists, so we recently sat down with Xaña for a follow-up interview. Xaña (pronounced like Tanya but beginning with a Z sound) is the founder and CEO of Golden Proportions Marketing, a full-service marketing agency that specializes in marketing for dental practices.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us again, Xaña! Can you tell us about how you got into marketing, specifically marketing for dentists?

Xaña: Marketing has always been my passion. I studied marketing when I was in college and then worked for several marketing agencies until I got married and moved to central Pennsylvania, where my husband started practicing dentistry as an associate. He eventually opened his own practice from scratch, so I began helping him with traditional marketing efforts to help him create a brand for himself. That was over 25 years ago, before I started my agency. What began as an effort to help my husband turned into the agency that I founded, Golden Proportions Marketing.

You had mentioned that when you started your agency, there were hardly any agencies that were specific to dentistry. Since then, marketing for dentistry has really expanded; what would you say sets your agency apart?

Xaña: When I first started, there was maybe only one other full-service agency at the time; the rest were a few website design companies and a direct mail company for dentists. The issue was and this remains true even today; dentists are not taught how to be a business owner in dental school. They have so many demands on their time, running their practice as they try to focus on providing clinical care for their patients. The last thing they have time for is coming up with a true strategic growth plan. Instead, they get pulled into what I call the “shiny object syndrome,” which is when another dentist tells them that they did this one marketing tactic and it worked really well for them. Then they jump on that idea, thinking it’s their holy grail instead of taking a holistic approach with a strategic marketing plan.

I came from a world of marketing that had nothing to do with dentistry. You would never tell a client in a million years that you could solve all their problems by just sending out postcards, or by just building a new website. We are one of the few agencies that offers a truly comprehensive and strategic marketing plan for dentists. I approach a dentist’s business the same way as if I were to do a pitch for Ford or Pepsi or any major brand. I apply the same level of strategy for dental practices.

You hit on an interesting point that dentists spend very little time studying the business aspect of their practice while they’re in dental school. How does that hinder their ability to market their practice once they’re out of school?

Xaña: When my husband went to dental school, he only took one business course for one semester, and it was just one hour per week. I think this is part of the reason DSOs are on the rise today, because DSOs understand business and smaller private practices simply haven’t had that training.

As dental students come out of school, they’re often deep in debt, and the last thing they can afford is a consultant to teach them business strategy, even though I would say that’s the very first thing they need to do.

But we’re seeing a trend, particularly with younger dentists who are marketing more effectively. It used to be that if you weren’t getting new patients based on your reputation alone, then people thought you must not be a good quality doctor. But we’re starting to see a new generation of dentists that understand technology better and appreciate the importance of treating their practice as a business because that’s what it is.

On the topic of changing mindsets, how do you see the recovery of the dental industry as we come out of COVID, and what’s your recommendation to practices navigating post-COVID times?

Xaña: One thing I’ve observed is that some practices are still stuck in the COVID emergency cycle and simply reacting to what’s happening moment by moment. With this reactionary mindset, they might see a hole in their schedule and think, “what immediate marketing fix is there to fix those holes?” but they’re not thinking downstream. My recommendation would be to think proactively, which is, “how can I fix these problems for good, as opposed to just for right now?” Taking a holistic look at their marketing strategy will help them better business decisions to attract long-term patients.

What’s something practices could do to help their recovery?

Xaña: Practices have taken such a financial hit from COVID, and I’ve also seen practices having difficulty with hiring as a result of COVID, too. A good investment would be a technological tool such as the ones offered by Planet DDS. I always recommend getting retrained on the technology you have already invested in to make sure that you’re using the tool to the fullest capability. That way, you’re leveraging more out of the technologies that you already have and increasing the return on your investment. Taking the same resources and leveraging them to do more for you is the purpose of technology in the first place.

What’s one thing that a dental practice can do to get started in marketing?

Xaña: Taking a look at baseline metrics and setting growth goals is the first thing I recommend. You have to actually measure each strategy that you currently have in place. The easiest place to start is to create a KPI dashboard with basic metrics such as production goals and number of new patients. Then I recommend setting larger SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Often, dentists will set vague goals like “get more patients” or “get patients to accept more treatment.” An example of a SMART goal would be to average XX new patients per month by the last quarter of this year, or start ten new Invisalign cases per quarter. To make sure these goals are realistic, I advise dentists to compare them with their historical performance. Then they can see if the goals are too aspirational. If they are, perhaps a practice can ramp up to reach those goals over a year. Setting up incentives for your staff is also a great way to help your practice reach its goals.

Lastly, I recommend focusing on a few goals instead of getting overwhelmed with setting too many. Ask yourself, what’s the most important problem that I can act on right now. It’s essentially the 80/20 rule in action. What’s one thing that can get you 80% of your results with 20% of your effort.

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We thank Xaña for sharing her insights and expertise. If you’re interested in learning more about the services of her full-service dental marketing agency, Golden Proportions Marketing, please visit their website. You can also watch our recent webinar where she shared her six steps to success for developing your ideal dental market strategy.

If you’d like to learn more about how our practice management solution, Denticon can help your practice easily track KPIs and increase revenue to reach your goals, contact us to learn how we help practices of all sizes.

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