Marketing is an interesting beast – it’s not simply a case of learning the principles once and then being set from then on. A marketing mindset needs to be continually absorbed, cultivated and allowed to sink in more deeply over time. The field is also continually evolving, and it pays to stay up to date.
We’ve introduced you to dental marketing before on our blog – so today it’s time to dive a little deeper.
Here are four tips for connecting with potential dental patients, delivering your message and securing their trust and custom.
1. Differentiate Your Practice From the Others
Differentiation is all about “what’s special about you”. The goal is to make sure that from a prospective patient’s point of view, your practice offers something unique – something they can’t get elsewhere.
Differentiating yourself effectively may require a little bit of strategic thinking on your part, and it pays to get a feel for how your competition are positioning themselves. Get your hands on their brochures, and send a staff member around for a friendly yet low-key reconnaissance mission.
Once you know what your competition offer, find your own “positive differentiators” that set your practice apart.
Do you offer specialist treatments that could be the flagship service of your business?
Or perhaps you stand head and shoulders above other practices in terms of patient experience and comfort? If so, you could consider making this the core of your dental practice’s brand.
The worst thing you can be is run-of-the-mill. Focus on your practice’s strengths relative to your competition, and highlight those strengths in your marketing materials.
2. Encourage Patient Referrals
Successful businesses are well aware of the value of patient referrals. The “cost per acquisition” of a referral is much lower than that of a new customer reached through direct marketing efforts.
An added benefit of a referred potential patient is that they’re already “warm” – they walk through your doors with a rosy perception of your practice, thanks to the positive words of the patient who recommended it to them.
The million-pound question of course, is how do you encourage these referrals?
The answer is that you need to do it deliberately but in an entirely non-pushy way. A referral program is a nice way to provide incentives – offer discounts on treatment and special offers on dental products to patients who refer their contacts to your practice.
Make sure it’s personal, casual and not too systematic –patients don’t want to feel like they’re part of a big marketing machine.
3. Send A Newsletter To Current Patients
Newsletters serve a couple of important purposes for your dental practice.
Firstly, they keep your practice in the forefront of patients’ minds. We all lead busy lives, and it’s easy to perpetually put off a visit to the dentist – regular newsletters can nudge patients toward finally booking that appointment.
Newsletters are also an opportunity to highlight new treatments and products that would be of interest. However, do make sure you write a high quality piece that offers genuinely useful content to your patients, including articles on dental care, and information about your practice. Be sure to avoid sending something that’s nothing more than a thinly-veiled upsell.
Monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly are reasonable time intervals for sending a dental practice newsletter. And since you have the names and email addresses of your patients anyway, you have a ready-made audience – just put a high-quality piece together and mail it out.
4. Have an Online Strategy
This could be as simple as a four-page website, or a more involved internet marketing strategy that includes search engine optimisation, paid advertising and email campaigns.
However deep you choose to go with it, an internet presence of some sort is largely mandatory these days. Internet marketing generally yields a good return on investment, so the more you’re willing to commit to your online efforts, the greater the results you’ll see.
Even if you’re not technically minded, the worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand: the internet is the new Yellow Pages, and people search for services they need online before they look anywhere else. If digital technology makes you shudder, find a great internet marketing agency to take care of things, because it’s crucial to the success of your dental practice.
The dental marketing rabbit-hole goes deep, and we’ll be back soon with another Dental Marketing Masterclass to help you attract and retain dental patients. Stay tuned to the Dental Gateway Blog, and feel free to sign up for our dental recruitment network if you haven’t done so yet – it’s the most efficient way to connect with top dental talent in your area.