I am not a marketing guru.
However, I have been in the dental industry for a long time and have tried a lot of marketing tools. I’ve learned a few things the easy way, and many more the hard way.
If we’re learning from our mistakes, there is nothing wrong with trying different methods.
Here are seven marketing tips to consider when making decisions for your practice.
1. There is no magic bullet
There are so many marketing companies popping up that promise they have the only way to attract new patients.
They promise to double your number of new patients or have you placed on the first page of search engines in under a month. There is no guarantee with marketing, no magic bullet; but everyone is looking for one.
You need to know that marketing takes time, testing and tuning, and not all results will be the same. Make sure you are working with a company you trust and monitor the results frequently to see what is working (and what isn’t); this will tell you if you’re gaining a worthwhile return on your investment.
2. Speak to the reader
Dental office marketing tends to focus on what we want the public to think is important, like technology in the office, or the prestigious school where the dentist earned his degree; but prospective patients don’t really care about those things. Effective marketing should focus on what matters to them.
If you want to find out what matters to the patient, ask your current patients why they come to your office and what they like; then, market THAT. The responses may surprise you.
For example, they might tell you the reason they come to you isn’t the great same-day dentistry you offer. They may say it is your friendly team or your efforts to help them understand their treatment options. What is important to your current patients will entice new patients to your office.
3. Variety wins
There are so many marketing companies claiming that online marketing is the way to go.
They will tell you to stop mailing postcards or newsletters and put all your advertising on the web. I disagree. We tried this in our office, and guess what happened? Our new patient numbers dropped. Then, we went back to a combination of marketing efforts, to include print and online, and our new patient numbers skyrocketed.
It’s similar to investing: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Spread out your investment and then monitor the results to see what is working and what isn’t.
People don’t always go to the Internet to find a dentist. Some still respond to mail or radio ads. Remember the demographics of the patients you want to attract and figure out how to reach those people specifically. It isn’t always via the Internet.
Find what works for your office, your message and in your area.
4. Repetition is necessary
Research indicates the average person will see a marketing message at least five times before they respond. In part, this is because familiarity creates trust, although it’s also true that people might just need to hear the name of your dental office several times to remind them to call you.
If you are going to market your practice, understand that sending postcards or posting a pay-per-click ad on the Internet one time will not automatically make the phones ring. Figure out which marketing avenues to use, then stick to them long enough to see results.
If you’re trying to decide whether it makes more sense for your budget to market to more people one time versus fewer people multiple times, here’s the answer: it pays to market to smaller groups multiple times, so they can hear the marketing repetitively and eventually decide to call your office.
5. Have a clear call to action
Whether writing the text of an ad or creating your website, make sure there is a clear “call to action” that tells the prospective patient exactly what you want them to do, i.e., “call today” or “schedule your appointment.” Too many dental websites are missing a call to action, assuming the prospective patient will know what to do next.
The other common problem in dental marketing pieces is that they are cluttered with too many “offers,” which hide the actual call to action. You can include offers, but it makes more sense to save those for the time when the patient is in the office, and you are persuading them to accept treatment.
Your marketing should be clear and direct, not confusing with too much detail.
Focus on what makes you the right office for them and encourage them to make that phone call.
6. Track your calls
Have a way to track each phone call coming into your office from a prospective new patient. It can be as simple as a pad of paper at the front desk: employees write down the name of the person who called, how they heard about your office, why they called, what they wanted, and whether or not they scheduled an appointment.
There are also more high-tech options available, but the goal is to make sure to track this information in some consistent way. You want to know which of your marketing efforts is enticing these prospective patients to call your office.
Tracking will help you with future marketing decisions – what to keep or increase and what to discontinue.
7. Train your team
Track your calls to determine if the employees answering the phones are doing a good job converting the callers into new patients.
The only purpose of marketing your practice is to make the phone ring. Once the phone is ringing, marketing has done its job. Now, it is time for the team member handling the call to answer the caller’s questions and convert them to a patient. If conversion is not happening most of the time, you need better training for your team on how to handle those calls.
Consider this vital marketing tip:
Every time a prospective patient calls and your team does not convince that person to schedule an appointment, marketing money is wasted.
Many doctors say marketing doesn’t work. But if marketing did not work, why would the big brands spend so much on advertising? Marketing works very well in other industries, and it can work in dentistry too.
The reason negativity exists about dental marketing is because every dollar matters. When you’re a small business owner, you pay even closer attention to the use of your marketing dollars—and when the tactics don’t work, you feel the sting.
Learn from my mistakes and let my experience take the unknowns out of marketing your practice. It boils down to marketing wisely and monitoring your efforts carefully. That’s a marketing approach that will gain more new patients without feeling a pinch in your marketing budget.
Need more marketing tips for your office or training for your staff to convert those calls into appointments? Visit Front Office Rocks to find out how our team can help your team increase conversion and elevate your customer experience.
Meet the Author
Laura Hatch is the founder and CEO of Front Office Rocks, the leader in web-based front office training for dental practices. Laura has been published in Dental Assisting Digest, Dentaltown, and Dentistry IQ.
She is also a Fellow of the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM), a national and international speaker on dental practice management for leading dental authorities, state and local dental societies, study clubs, and an advisor to several companies within the dental community. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and the Speaking Consulting Network. Laura was recognized as one of DPR’s Top 25 Women in Dentistry in 2016.
When Laura isn’t filming for Front Office Rocks, writing articles or blogs, being one of the dental speakers at an event, or managing a busy dental practice, you can find her on Dentaltown or in her own “Ask Laura” forum, where she responds to dental team members’ questions and shares her experience and expertise as a dental office manager.
For more marketing tips you can contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.