For years, professionals have run their businesses through word of mouth. Need a lawyer? Ask a friend. Need a dentist? Ask a friend.
Fortunately (and unfortunately for some of you) this is shifting. Just as any money-driven industry adapts and grows with technology and time, the dental marketing landscape is changing. Nowadays, word of mouth only covers a portion of the available patients.
In order to stay with the times and keep growing your practice, you need to stay on top of the latest marketing trends.
The new dental marketing landscape looks a bit like this:
- Review Websites – These types of sites are taking the place of “ask a friend” referrals. They give potential patients the ability to vet doctors. More than just the quality of your work is judged, people want to know they will feel welcomed by the culture of your practice.
- Your own website/social media – Just like your physical location is a valuable marketing tool… your website and social media profiles will prove to be a very important piece of your branding. Focus on demonstrating the quality of your service, and any special attributes your practice has. Figure out how to differentiate yourself from the competition.
- Marketing to current patients – With email marketing and SMS services becoming cheaper by the year, marketing to your current patients can be a very lucrative channel. This isn’t limited to getting your patients in for a yearly checkup (or some other service). Think outside the box, and figure out how you can generate referrals (maybe a an incentive program to generate new patients).
- Word of mouth – This will always be an important part of dental marketing, but make sure to facilitate this practice as much as possible. Talk to your patients, and ask them what you could do better. Finding out what issues they have with your practice will help you retain patients longer and keep them happier (which means more referrals walking through your front door.)
Dental practice marketing is changing with the times… but that doesn’t mean you need to get left behind. Just educate yourself on modern marketing tactics and figure out how to implement them. Remember to be open with yourself about marketing tactics – sometimes a new marketing channel seems like it won’t ever work for your specific needs, but don’t let that stop you from testing.
The “key” to profitable dental marketing is testing. Test if you can generate new patients through every (sensible) marketing channel. That’s the only way to prove whether or not a method will work for your practice. This doesn’t mean spend one hour attempting email marketing before giving up… this means seriously trying and optimizing a method until the results are statistically significant.
For something like SMS marketing, give yourself three months to implement (collect numbers) and then iterate on a few different offers/SMS blasts. See how it goes… did you get any positive or negative feedback from patients? You’d be surprised how many people will actually thank you for letting them know they are over-due on an appointment (or that you’re offering a new service). Don’t underestimate the value you provide to a community… in fact, it’s your duty to market your practice so that everyone can take advantage of the health benefits of quality dentistry.