Dentistry is an increasingly competitive marketplace, but with a proactive, strategic and structured approach to marketing you can make sure your practice outshines the rest. As a standout practice you can attract new patients and increase treatment uptake. So, here are five simple tips to get your marketing on the right track…
1. Start at the end
Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? What it means is that before you begin committing any resources to marketing activity, you need to know what your end-goal is. What is your overall vision for your practice? Taking some time to think about where you want to be in 3, 5, or 10 years, will enable you to plan your marketing activity in alignment with your business objectives. This will give you a structured approach and provide targets for you to measure your success against. Having tangible, specific goals can really help with this; so rather than saying your goal is to be the best practice in your town, it could be that you want to increase patient numbers or uptake of a certain treatment by x%.
2. Dedicate time and budget
The chances are that your practice doesn’t have a member of staff whose sole job revolves around marketing. That’s a common scenario in dentistry, with the responsibility generally falling on the principal or practice manager’s shoulders. Yet whilst most practices can’t justify the employment of a marketing manager, there should still be resources allocated to this type of activity. Each week or month some time and money should be apportioned to marketing activity. Deciding how much is the right amount to spend can be determined by coming up with a figure for how much you would pay for a new patient or the take up of a particular treatment. For example, if that figure is £50 for a new patient and you pay £500 for an advert you need to get 10 new patients for it to be worthwhile.
3. Create a website that works for you
One area that should always have some resources committed to it is your online presence. Google processes 40,000 search queries every second – for most people a search engine is the go-to source of information when they want to find something out, such as finding their local dentist. Even if they get a personal recommendation, it’s more than likely that the next step potential patients will take is to check out your website. You need a website that works for you, highlights your unique selling points, reflects your personality and values, and that is easy to understand.
4. Communicate in your customers’ language
Making the information easy to digest means making sure your website is all about your customers. Many dental practice websites fall into the trap of using jargon that dentists may understand but which your existing and prospective patients probably don’t. Rather than talking about Cerec technology or periodontics or caries, to maximise the potential of your website to attract new patients you need to focus on the benefits of the services you provide. In other words, how your services could impact on them; for example, by giving them a confident smile, or improving their self-esteem. By all means you can talk about the features of dentistry you offer, such as periodontics, just make sure you also explain – in layman’s terms – what the end result of that feature would be for the patient.
5. Analyse data to know what works
Once you begin your marketing activity you need to make sure you can track and measure what is working and what isn’t. If advertising in a particular magazine or online isn’t generating any results, then there is little point repeating it. You need to identify where the gaps are between your knowledge of the market, your potential customers and their response to your marketing activity. Then you can take steps to address it. For example, if you run a particular offer or advert try attaching a unique code to it, then you can track what enquiries come from that specific activity. Only by recording and analysing what you are doing can you understand what is effective.
Marketing is often de-prioritised or put on the backburner when it comes to running a dental practice, but investing some time, money and effort into this area will pay dividends as it can make a real impact in supporting you to build a strong and successful practice