Most dental practices are eager to grow their patient list, but they don’t know the best way to go about it. Marketing can be highly confusing, and many practices simply do not have time to develop a cohesive marketing plan. There are three common results:
- Your team becomes so confused and overwhelmed that you end up doing nothing.
- You put all your eggs in one basket, throwing all your marketing dollars at a single solution.
- You spread your funds among too many options, making it difficult to have any real impact.
The Buying Decision Lifecycle
Fortunately, there is hope. Planned and controlled diversity is the best way to spend your marketing budget. Think through the process that prospective patients go through to make an appointment. There are three basic steps:
- The prospect hears about you in some way, such as a referral or a piece of advertising. However, he does not respond immediately. In general, consumers need 3 to 5 introductions to a business before they respond.
- The prospect researches you online. He will visit your website, read your reviews, and gather information about you, your practice, and your services.
- The prospect calls, emails, or completes an online form to schedule an appointment.
To maximize your return on investment (ROI) for your marketing dollars, then, you need to reach prospects at all three points in the sales funnel. Diversify your efforts between internal cheerleaders, external advertising, and your website.
Your existing patients and staff members serve as valuable introductions to prospective new patients. Ask them to refer their family and friends to your practice, and to post positive reviews online. The key is getting them to do this consistently.
Invest some of your marketing dollars in referral cards for patients to hand out and in marketing materials placed around the office that remind patients to write reviews. Encourage your staff to talk to patients about referrals, and discuss the referral process at team meetings. You might even consider giving referrals a slight discount on their first appointment and/or giving a small reward to patients and staff for each referral who completes an initial appointment.
Once your reviews and referrals are flowing in, start marketing to your larger community. When planning your ad campaigns, remember that you need 3 to 5 introductions to each prospect. It is better to pay for a smaller advertisement that you can repeat each month than a huge glossy one that you can only afford once or twice per year. Press releases, cards or flyers at the office of someone who provides complementary services, and even writing a column for your community’s website are just a few inexpensive ways to keep your name in the public eye.
It is virtually impossible these days to grow your practice without a website, but not just any website will do. Modern consumers expect a website that is well-designed, engaging, mobile friendly, and packed with useful information. It should give them reassurance that they are choosing the right dentist, and it should make it easy to see how to schedule an appointment.
Diversifying your marketing dollars throughout the buying decision lifecycle is the key to growing your patient base. For maximum ROI, focus on internal cheerleaders, external advertising, and a website that will seal the deal.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.