Marketing is an enormous part of any business, and your dental practice is no exception. Yet most dentists’ skills run more toward actual dentistry than dental marketing. Yet just 4 simple keys can dramatically boost your marketing success.
Identify Your Target Market
Your target market is a fancy way of describing your ideal patients. Perhaps you want to focus on older patients, young families, or children. Maybe you don’t like dealing with insurance companies, and prefer patients who can self-fund up front and wait for insurance reimbursement. Whatever your target market is, make sure your marketing appeals to that group. Also keep it female-friendly, as women make a stunning 90% of dental buying decisions, and they are highly informed consumers seeking solid information before they buy.
Define Your Practice
It’s not enough to define yourself as a dentist. To market effectively, you need to perform a SWOT analysis of your practice:
Strengths: Your strengths are those things that you do better than the competition. These could be clinical strengths, such as an in-house dental lab or advanced training in the latest dental implant techniques. But they could also be process based. Maybe you offer Saturday hours or online paperwork filing. Make a list of every single thing you do better than the other dentists in your area.
Weaknesses: No one likes to admit their weaknesses, but an honest assessment is key to both a solid marketing plan and a strong business plan. What do your existing patients complain about? What is the corporate dental office across town doing that you wish you could do? An honest assessment lets you predict and plan for the obstacles you will face.
Opportunities: What could you do differently, either now or in the future, to drive practice growth? What about external factors? Is your community growing? Are young families moving in? Are insurance coverage rates going up? Are costs going down? Make a complete list of your opportunities for both short-term and long-term practice growth.
Threats: What forces are working against your practice? Is your community shrinking? Are local insurers raising premiums and lowering benefits? Did a huge corporate dental office just open down the street? Is your partner retiring? Identifying the threats to your practice lets you prepare a plan to guard against a decline in your patient list and revenue.
Engage Patients, Staff, and the Community
Your existing patients and staff can be strong brand ambassadors for your practice. However, they do not know nearly as much about the overall picture as you do. Hold regular staff training sessions to teach them the benefits of your practice. Hold them accountable for familiarizing themselves with all emails, flyers, and other marketing materials you send out. The more informed they are, the more they can stay on-message when speaking to current and potential patients.
Your patients already like you, so leverage those relationships to bring in new patients. Institute a referral program with incentives. Ask them to write reviews. Encourage them to follow you on social media and share your posts with their friends.
The local community is your source for new patients, but they have to know you exist. Hold open houses now and then, with fun activities for the family. Participate in local festivals, volunteer for a local charity, or sponsor a local kids’ sports team. Build your reputation as a strong, friendly, trustworthy member of the community, and new patients will be more likely to give you a chance.
Leverage Both Digital and Print Marketing
From a website to a social media presence to email communications, digital marketing is absolutely essential in the modern world. Start an email newsletter. Post helpful tips on your social media sites. Add a blog to your website. Whatever you do, follow two key rules: 1) Update no less frequently than once per month and 2) End each and every item with a Call to Action (CTA). A CTA tells readers what you want them to do—in this case, call for an appointment. Sweeten the deal by offering an incentive, such as a free consultation.
Print marketing may seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur, but it still plays a key role in attracting local business. Hand out business cards to your patients, preferably with a handwritten note of thanks on the back. Send branded merchandise such as notepads and pens to your regular customers now and then. Snail mail birthday cards, annual checkup reminders, and other occasional communications. In a digital world, print materials can really set you apart.
Ascent Dental Solutions is dedicated to helping dentists build their practices. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact us today at 413-224-2659.
And he knows that once you “get it right,” it’s not a great leap to replicate that success over and over again.
Today, in addition to his work as an actual dentist, Dr. Coughlin coaches, consults and speaks to dentists across the country on how to build the practice of their dreams – based on proven processes and procedures.
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