By Drevenstedt Consulting
Dentists are not usually schooled in marketing; nor is their team. Therefore, they fall prey to the latest scheme that someone touts. Dentists often want to set it (e.g., put up a website) and forget it. In our new economy with the profit snatching invasion of PPO's, with people losing their jobs, with consumer spending down, there might be a tendency to shrink back on marketing. Au Contraire. Here are 12 of the best marketing investments to attract today's dental consumers.
1. Update your website.
Websites are dynamic tools used to attract new patients. You may have spent thousands to get it developed AND you may even be paying an ongoing fee. However, few dentists keep their website updated. In one practice, the dentist was paying for the ability to update, (often included in the monthly fee), and yet still had staff photos of people who had been gone for over six months. It is time to update if: 1) your website is generic, (all of the photos are of models); 2) it looks like the other dental websites; 3) it is heavy on text and short on visuals; 4) it has old photos of staff long gone; or 5) you have procedures and services available that are not mentioned on your website.
2. Empower the Search Engines (Google®, Bing®, Yahoo®).
Staff meeting exercise: Ask each staff member to search the web using a search term they would use to locate a new dentist in your city or area. Ask them to note your ranking in the non-paid area of Google®. If you are not in the top 5, you lose. Take the list of search terms used by your team and send them to your webmaster and ask them to add those search terms.
3. Add visuals, videos and personal photos to your website.
YouTube® is the second most used search engine. Therefore, make some short-less than one or two minutes-home-grown videos: you, your office, your team, and your philosophy; you with your patients, (especially those in your target market), discussing their satisfaction. Put these on your website and on YouTube®.
4. Use an offer to grab emails from searchers.
What offer? Either a reduction on a service, such as Power Bleaching for $100 off, Complimentary Six Month Smile® or Cosmetic Smile, or implant analysis. Or, a "white paper" on a consumer interest topic such as, "Five Things to Consider When Choosing a New Dentist."
5. Market to new home buyers and not to everybody in your area.
New homeowners are stable, creditworthy, have above average income, and are ready to establish a new dentist for their family. The best time to reach them is immediately after they buy their home. I recommend you do this in-house. Send three letters, three months in a row with a different focus and a different offer in each. Always include something of value.
6. Get out THERE into your community.
Become active in a place of worship of your choice. This is good for your soul and good for your business.
7. Track, Track, Track where your new patients come from.
You need to see if at least half of your new patients are coming from referrals from your patients and staff. If not, you need to work on patient satisfaction. (Download the February 2012 eSSENTIALs on our Newsletters Page.) You also need to see if you are getting a return on any marketing money spent. If you are not getting patients from your website, think about a website makeover!!
8. Communicate with your patients via print or email newsletters at least four times per year.
Send them something other than recall notices or statements. If you have not already asked, ask patients for their email addresses since e-newsletters are VERY cost effective. With Thanksgiving coming up, send a Thanksgiving letter thanking them for being a part of your patient family. Here are a few other ideas for those mailings:
"New services you now offer such as Six Months Smiles® or sleep apnea treatment
"New staff or staff news, babies, marriages, new certifications, continuing education
"New information about dental products, dental services, dental conditions, nutrition. I got one recently from my massage therapist about the "YUCK" in soft drinks!
9. Have a specific Thank You program for referrals that come from your patients AND your team.
This is not new news, but it is often lost in busyness. Be sure you appreciate EVERY referral even if it is of a family member.
10. Print the staff personal business cards.
This will be money well spent. These cards help them have pride in their profession and your practice. Ask them to give them out to friends, family and where they do business such as their nail tech, massage therapist, hairdresser and kid's teacher.
11. Put together a Business to Business promotion.
Make up dental health baskets to distribute in your business area which include items that can be imprinted with your practice name and logo:
"toothbrushes and floss
"sugarless gum, mints or lip balm
"pencils, pens or pads
"business card magnets
"card with an offer for a discount
12. Send birthday cards to the over 65 age group and e-cards to the under 12 group.
Who doesn't like birthday cards? Let your patients know you care.