As patients increasingly take it upon themselves to investigate their orthodontists online before booking an appointment, the importance of marketing for orthodontic practices has also grown. That’s one of the driving forces behind a new partnership between Ormco Corp, Orange, Calif, and dental marketing agency WEO Media, Portland, Ore.

Ormco, a manufacturer and provider of orthodontic products and services, announced that it was entering into an exclusive partnership with WEO this summer. Under the partnership, WEO will provide Ormco doctors with a full range of marketing services, including website building, search engine optimization, social media management, Yelp advertising, video production, online review management, branding, and more. The ultimate goal is to help providers grow their practices.

Ian McNickle, co-founder of WEO, said that orthodontists need a robust online presence because the referral process for patients has evolved over the years with the rise of technology.

“In the past a general dentist would say, ‘Oh you need braces, go see this orthodontist’, and the patient would blindly go to the orthodontist without doing research. Those days are gone,” he said. “Now the patient goes home and does research on Google before contacting the practice.”

He’s also met orthodontists who are convinced a website is all they need to survive that patient’s thorough internet search.

“Maybe 7 or 8 years ago,” he said. “But not today.”

Now, doctors should check three boxes: a custom website; a handle on their online reviews on Facebook, HealthGrades, Yelp, Google, and other sites; and a robust social media presence across platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Suzanne Wilson, director of digital marketing, conventional products and special markets at Ormco, describes the deal between the two companies as a “co-marketing partnership.” Orthodontists can get in touch with the marketing company through Ormco, which will offer doctors a special bundle price and personalized consultation with WEO.

In recent years, she said, it has been part of Ormco’s business model to support its customers beyond the products it’s best known for, such as the Damon™ System. That expansion has meant introducing products and services that help clients with running and growing their businesses.

Wilson hopes that their partnership will also help orthodontists shave dollars off their marketing budgets.

“We’ve recently done some research on how doctors and patients are engaging on social media, and one thing that bubbled up on this is the budget,” she said. “Some offices are spending as much as $1,000 or $1,500 per month on just their social media activity, which is extremely important.”

As social media becomes increasingly crucial to connect, especially with younger patients, it’s key for orthodontists to be visible there. Wilson said WEO’s services will be affordable, and will allow flexibility for clients because WEO uses month-to-month contracts.

“Developing a website and conducting a proper online marketing campaign can require a decent investment which is why our focus is on ROI (Return on Investment). We work with our clients to develop custom strategies that will generate new patient flow and a positive ROI,” McNickle said.

The fact that WEO also provides such a robust range of services—“from soup to nuts,” as Wilson puts it—also means orthodontists could consolidate the number of marketing vendors they’re working with.

“Instead of trying to piecemeal it out,” McNickle said, “you can have a one-stop shop with a dedicated team of specialists working on your account with more experience.”

He juxtaposed his company with “a few legacy players” that have been in the orthodontic marketing space for a long time.

WEO has worked with orthodontists for years, he added, and the firm has also long worked with oral surgeons, general dentists, and periodontists. But the pairing with Ormco is WEO’s first strategic partnership in the orthodontic sector. McNickle said growing in the industry is a good fit because practices can afford the marketing, and they’re used to marketing themselves already.

“We thought Ormco and their customers were the perfect fit for us since the orthodontic customers really weren’t being serviced,” said McNickle, who added that he frequently heard people in the industry echoing the thought that there was a need for “new blood.”

“I’ve had orthodontists on our radar a long time,” he said. “As we’ve grown our company, I felt we had the bandwidth to really grow.” OP

A.J. Zak is a freelance writer for Orthodontic Products. She can be reached at [email protected].