A Family Heritage in Orthodontics
Dr. Doug Wright’s 50-year-old orthodontic practice carries on the heritage of his family’s history of dental care in the Buffalo, New York region. He is the son of an orthodontist, and the great-grandson of one of the first orthodontists to attend the Angle School of Orthodontics in the early 20th century.
Dr. Wright returned to New York to join his father, Dr. Laurence Wright, in their orthodontic practice’s Amherst and Grand Island offices in 1992, after having worked as a general dentist for seven years before beginning his orthodontic residency at Case Western Reserve University. Since then, the practice has added three more locations in the Buffalo suburbs, with a mix of about 80 percent teen patients and 20 percent adults.
Following his father’s example, Dr. Wright utilized traditional marketing methods including outreach to general dentists. Participation in civic and church organizations also helped him network with local residents.
“About two years ago, I began assessing the extent of what we were doing to grow a successful practice,” says Dr. Wright. “Delivering excellent orthodontics is essential, but it’s not enough. Marketing is crucial to attracting new patients. Our office combined inside marketing knowledge with expert outside resources. Associating with the AAO helps us distinguish our practice as specialists with a positive, professional and credible message.
In addition, our own customized, proprietary ‘Owl Orthodontics’ branding helps distinguish us among our peers.”
Nearly 20 years ago, a patient gave Dr. Wright’s father a photograph of an owl to thank him for his treatment. Over the years, many patients and parents brought photos and drawings of owls. Local residents began referring to the practice as the “owl orthodontic office.” Dr. Wright decided to build up the “Owl” brand to give his practice a unique, friendly identity.
The practice began its re-branding process by implementing social media, including its Facebook page and YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/OwlOrthoTV. Dr. Wright and his team also developed local radio and TV campaigns to increase awareness and attract new patients.
Exploring the Available AAO Materials
Early in 2012, Laurie Wright (Dr. Wright’s wife and the Owl Orthodontics marketing director) visited the AAO member website, to download the new association logo for members and review the marketing materials that are available to members. She viewed the videos and commercials from the My Life. My Smile. My Orthodontist.® campaign. The Wrights decided that the videos could help provide needed content for the practice’s social networking outlets.
Owl Orthodontics quickly customized a variety of materials from the My Life. My Smile. My Orthodontist.® campaign, including print ads that appear in local newspapers, and videos and commercials that appear on the practice’s YouTube channel. The Owl Orthodontics logo is added to the initial display on the screen for each video. The practice utilized its own radio and television campaign that had been custom-scripted for the Owl brand for local broadcast advertising.
Owl Orthodontics is now developing a local direct mail campaign using a customizable mailer from the My Life. My Smile. My Orthodontist.® series.
“This approach was a big change for us, but we believe it is an effective response to the fact that so many families are doing their own research when looking for professionals,” says Dr. Wright. “With their strong emphasis on the advanced credentials of orthodontists, the AAO materials are a good fit with one of our primary goals: To brand the practice as a specialty practice. Many people today are well-educated, and they prefer to see well-credentialed health professionals.”
Dr. Wright also brought the AAO brand into his office via My Life. My Smile. My Orthodontist.® posters.
“The posters help reinforce the message that the patient may see outside the office,” says Dr. Wright. “Their design seems to appeal to a wide audience of teens and adults.”
Dr. Wright acknowledges that it is not easy to track the response to the practice’s local advertising campaign.
“Our receptionist always asks how people inquiring about treatment heard about us, but their responses are sometimes vague, or they will mention numerous sources such as friends, their dentist and/or one of our ads,” he says. “Sometimes they may not mention an ad until we begin treatment, and then they say, ‘I keep seeing one of your ads on TV.’”
Regardless of the extent to which the new marketing approach is driving inquiries, Dr. Wright feels it carries additional value.
“The most important aspect of our marketing message is that we have grown a practice that is a strong, integrity-based practice with a dedicated staff that delivers excellent orthodontics,” he says. “That is something worth marketing. “Our inquiries have increased,” Dr. Wright adds. “We feel we can credit the advertising and social networking programs for much of the increase. It is also important to us that we are building a practice brand tied to the AAO’s emphasis on the specialized expertise of the orthodontist.”