Marketing is key to the success of any business, and dental practices are no exception. For a dental practice to grow, a single dentist should be seeing 24–50 new patients per month. And in order to attract new dental patients, a practice must offer a competitive product at competitive pricing, along with convenient, quality services—all backed by a solid dental marketing plan.
When trying to figure out how to market your dental practice, the first step is always a SWOT session. In case you’re not familiar with this term, it’s simply a structured way to determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Strengths: What sets your dental practice apart from other dentists in your area? List every possible item that you can preserve and leverage to make your practice stand out from the competition.
Weaknesses: What are the biggest patient beefs? Be honest with this list so you can recognize and deal with any obstacles.
Opportunities: Where will practice growth come from? Evaluate each item to determine what you can take advantage of.
Threats: Are there any issues your practice may have to anticipate, prepare for and defend against?
Once you have established where your dental practice is positioned, you’ll be able to determine which dental marketing ideas will help secure a successful future.
Dental Marketing Ideas # 1 – Patient Referral Bonus System
For an established dental practice, more than 70% of new patient growth should come from internal patient referrals. Yet, existing patients don’t often view your dental practice as a growing business in search of more patients. So how do you keep your name at the top of their mind and encourage them to tell others about your services?
By offering a broad referral bonus program. The motivation for patients is simple: If a person recommends your practice to a friend, and if that friend ends up visiting your practice, then the original referrer is rewarded with a bonus, such as a discount or a dental product. This program has the double benefit of engaging with patients, both old and new, and endearing them to your practice. What’s more, all you need to do is hand out simple referral cards at the office or tuck them into your other practice mailings.
To make this idea even more effective, consider incentivizing employees to motivate them to help improve and grow your practice, not just through referrals but in all facets of your operation.
Dental Marketing Ideas #2 – Identify Your Target Audience (Most Likely Women)
Women make more than 90% of all dental buying decisions. They are powerhouse consumers who want to make informed decisions for their families. They want a service, not just a product, and in today’s market they have plenty of dental practices to choose from.
Great dental marketing ideas that will entice more female household heads to contact your practice is to carefully review your overall marketing image, including your dental practice logo, and your existing collateral. According to Marti Barletta, the world’s foremost expert on marketing to women, “Women make purchasing decisions differently than men, in that they take a meandering approach.”
Women want information before they purchase to ensure they are finding the “perfect answer.” So when creating marketing collateral for your dental practice, be sure to work with a provider that offers a ton of dental practice marketing ideas, can provide in-depth demographic targeting, and who understands how to market to women.
Dental Marketing Ideas #3 – An Offer To Beat Your Competition
When it comes to strategic dental marketing, it’s important to watch your market and know your competition. Don’t advertise a $99 new patient special if 3 dental competitors offer essentially the same package for $49. And remember that patients want convenience, such as one-visit treatments, before and after school appointments, and weekend availability. In other words, differentiate your practice from that of your competitors by being there when they want you and giving them what they want.
To get an even bigger edge on your competition, Entrepreneur.com suggests “you need to kick butt at hiring.” Think about it. When you have an attentive waiter in a restaurant who is engaged and who attends to your every need, you feel great about that restaurant. The same goes for your dental practice. If your front desk team doesn’t lift their heads when a patient approaches, or if you have a hygienist who’s a little too rough, it reflects poorly on the dentist and your patients may not return.
Stellar new patient call handling is imperative. After scoring over 120,000 inbound dental patient telephone calls we can confirm that your dental office, like many others, is losing new patients due to poor phone handling. That doesn’t mean your team isn’t cheerful and helpful, it just means that calls are missed due to front desk responsibilities, there’s an assumption that voice mail will cover off, and often there isn’t a request by the practice for the patient to book an appointment. Overall less than 70% of inbound calls are answered live, and only 50% of those answered book an appointment. Make sure your team has the new patient telephone training they need by working with an expert dental marketing partner.
Dental Marketing Ideas #4 – Patient Reviews and Web Presence
Even though more than 50% of your new dental patients should be referrals, those folks, along with people who receive your other dental marketing campaigns, will likely look you up online. What will they see?
A great dental marketing idea is to consistently clear your cache and Google “dentist in *insert your town here*.” Do you have 5 star Google reviews? Do you have any reviews at all? Whether you do or you don’t, it’s wise to encourage patients to give you positive reviews online, and a great way to do that is in your patient newsletter. Provide step-by-step “how to” instructions to help patients help you.
Another good marketing idea for the entire dental office team is to regularly look over your website. Is the content up to date? Will your website appeal to the female head of household? Is it easy to navigate and is it reflective of the quality of your services? Is there a friendly picture of the dentist with his/her family and/or the team? Fifty-percent of consumers fear the dentist on some level, so the friendlier you can make your image, the more success you will have.
Dental Marketing Ideas #5 – Get Out in the Community
The most effective primary target audience consists of the neighborhoods and consumers that lie within close proximity of your business. That said, it’s essential that your dental practice have a positive community image.
Many of our clients find that sending out a neighborhood dental newsletter furthers their credibility and leads to additional community engagement. You can also get your practice’s name out through participation in community events, such as volunteer activities or neighborhood celebrations. You may even decide to sponsor a local little league team. This can serve as a brilliant opportunity for networking with actual potential new dental patients while establishing your practice as a firm fixture in the community.
Really the number one dental marketing ideas is to consistently focus on new patient generation. Every practice loses 15-20% of their patient base annually due to naturally occuring attrition. And direct mail is proven to drive higher results than any other type of marketing for dentists – but not all direct mail is the same. Dental marketing newsletters are proven to drive 70% higher call volume that dental marketing postcards, plus they’re twice as effective at engaging the brain.
Dental Marketing Ideas #6 – Fun Events
Host fun, themed events at your office to let the community know you’re not only all business, but that you can provide an enjoyable experience as well. These events can range from an information seminar with free snacks and beverages to an elaborate photo shoot for patients with cosmetic treatments. Or, you can organize a BBQ or refreshment pitstop for local events like charity runs or parades.
The key with this dental marketing idea is to be visible, real and friendly, and to support your patient community. After all, a patient who has a good time with your practice is sure to reward you for it with their loyalty and referrals.
An inexpensive extension of this dental marketing idea is to setup a practice Facebook page. This social media site offers you a great way to show the culture of your practice and a place for prospective employees to see what it’s like to work with your team.
Dental Marketing Ideas #7 – Brand Promotion Through Team Buy-In
The biggest dental marketing ideas of all is team training. As a dentist, you are probably committed to continuing education for yourself and your team. But are you educating your team on the consumer benefits of choosing your dental practice?
Does your team believe you need more new patients or do they view that as more work?
Does your team understand the value of each prospective new patient call and do they believe in your services?
Is your team able to clearly and knowledgably explain how great your practice is to a new caller?
Remember, the person who answers the phone at your practice is the practice to a new patient caller. Their enthusiasm about you, your practice and the services you offer will make or break your dental marketing plans.
Enhance your dental marketing strategy with this gem of a dental marketing idea and get your team involved. Have your team read every marketing campaign you launch at your weekly huddles. Ensure that everyone understands the messaging you are putting out into your market area, and can answer patient questions about offers and treatments. Have everyone on your dental team bring in all the flyers, emails and other promotional dental marketing pieces they receive and review at your huddles.
Make sure everyone on your team understands why patients should choose your practice and how important every patient visit is to your practice security. The more engaged your team is, the more likely they are to provide you with their unique dental marketing ideas.