As dental marketing moves into the age of social media, nearly all aspects of attracting and retaining patients have changed.
Along with great treatment, you need a patient-focused marketing plan that builds trust and creates advocates for your practice.
A business owner can’t expect growth without marketing. Marketing is what convinces people to try a new product or service and continue coming back. But for many dentists—especially ones who don’t have a marketing specialist on their team—getting started can be difficult. They would much rather stick to fixing teeth and leave advertising to someone else. Usually, this takes the form of an ad spot in the local newspaper or Yellow Pages, or maybe even a billboard or direct mail campaign.
With the rise of the internet and social media, the problems with this traditional approach to dental marketing have only become more accentuated: it’s expensive, intrusive, and increasingly ignored by potential patients. People’s lives are saturated with more marketing messages than ever before, and they simply filter out most of them.
How do you create a dental marketing campaign that cuts through the static and gets your practice noticed? It starts with a plan. Too many dentists start putting time and money into advertising without first having a strategy, and end up with disappointing results. With the right marketing strategy, you can not only bring in new patients and build relationships with the ones you have, you can do it for a fraction of the cost.
First, Know Your Patients and Your Practice
Every good marketing campaign starts with research. In order to attract more of the patients you want, you need to first identify who they are and what makes them ideal. Start by creating a list of at least 30 of your best patients and gather key marketing data about them. This data might include:
- Family status
- City or neighborhood of residence
- How they heard about your practice
- Dental treatment needs
- Preferred channel of communication with your practice
- Preferred social media networks
- Hobbies and interests
Create broad patient profiles based on commonalities you find between multiple people. As you create a marketing strategy, these profiles will help inform you every step of the way how to reach and communicate effectively with your target audiences. The more you know about your best existing patients, the better you will be able to reach more potential patients like them. If this information is not readily available, consider offering an incentivized marketing survey. Frame the conversation in your effort to improve your practice and better serve patients.
Assess your own practice and take stock of what makes you special. What does your team pride itself on? What do long-time patients love about you? What marketing methods have you tried in the past, and were they successful? Researching these things will help you know what aspects of your practice are the most appealing, and what you can highlight in your marketing. Be honest with yourself regarding what your team needs to improve on as well.
Set Goals and Objectives
Goals provide direction and motivation in your marketing efforts. Determine what you need to do to grow your practice, and then break those goals down into specific, measurable objectives.
For example, one of your goals to attract new patients might be to “strengthen our online presence.” Backed by your research, you would then break that goal down into clear, quantifiable objectives like “increase our Facebook Likes by 20 percent in a month” and “obtain two Google reviews every week.”
Set goals and objectives that will stretch your team, but don’t be afraid to adjust them as your campaign progresses. Meeting your objectives will not only grow your practice, but also help your team stay enthusiastic and committed.
Tailor Your Approach and Measure the Results
In order for your marketing material to resonate with your target audience, the messaging needs to be remarkable, actionable, and relevant to their self-interests. This does not mean everything you do should be a sales pitch. It does mean that all your marketing tactics should encourage some type of action—whether that be following a social media page, sharing a post, subscribing to an email list, taking advantage of a special offer, or various other things that lead to patient conversion and retention.
The tactics you use should be based on the potential patient profiles you created during your research. Say for example you found that a significant portion of your patient base consists of mothers that regularly bring in their children for cleanings. You might choose to focus on offering dental advice for parents and special discounts on pediatric exams.
Distributing your marketing through social media offers an easy way to measure what’s working and what’s not. Track Likes, shares and comments on each of your posts and use each service’s analytics tools to gain more insight on the most effective types of content for each platform.
Create an Experience Patients Will Want to Share
When most people think of marketing, they think only about “running ads”—but it’s much more than that. Marketing encompasses all your efforts to attract, convert, and retain patients. Great customer service, a fun practice culture, and community involvement are all aspects of marketing that do more to build relationships than mundane, forgettable ads.
Building relationships with patients makes them more likely to become advocates for your practice by writing a review, referring a friend, or talking about you on social media. This creates word-of-mouth marketing—the type of recommendation that people trust the most.
Grow Your Practice With Social Media
While this is a very broad overview of marketing principles, it’s a lot to think about at once. We understand! Starting your marketing plan can seem overwhelming. My Social Practice provides the tools, content, and one-on-one training to take you through each step of building an effective social media marketing plan, then implementing it in your practice and online. Download our free ebook below for ideas to try on your social media pages and contact us for a free demo of our services!