Dentists rightfully see themselves first and foremost as professionals performing an important public service: promoting positive dental health for the communities in which they serve. What they are not traditionally as good at is marketing themselves effectively. The reasons for this are many: some dentists resist marketing because it somehow seems out of step with the Hippocratic oath. Others support the idea of stepping up their marketing activities in principle but just aren't sure how or where to start.
The bottom line is that marketing in and of itself is not antithetical to what it means to be a responsible doctor. In fact, if you believe in the value of your services, you could say that you owe it to yourself, your staff, your family and your community to more effectively get the word out about your services through effective dental marketing solutions.
Here are 5 tips for getting more patients via effective dental marketing solutions:
Tip # 1: Target high-response prospects such as new movers with direct mail campaigns:
Direct mail can be an very cost-effective way to get the word out about your practice to the prospects within driving distance of your office. Many dentists are understandably wary about direct mail because of anticipated low response rates. However, there is a way to drastically improve response rates: specifically target new movers in your area. New movers are simply the people who have recently moved into your neighborhood – either into apartments or homes – and who are therefore much more likely than average to be on the lookout for a new dentist. In fact, research shows that new movers are 4 to 8 times more likely to respond to direct mail advertising than are longtime residents.
Tip # 2: Offer prospects promotions and coupons:
When advertising via direct mail, it is always wise to offer special promotions, coupons or other incentives to prospects. Sound too costly to try? Think again: imagine taking a slightly lower margin (ie, higher cost) on a new patient's first visit and in exchange for effectively hooking them for multiple future visits. From a cost-benefit standpoint, your dental practice will be much better off by gaining these prospects' recurring business – even if you have to take a small cost hit in the short term. Every new client is potentially worth hundreds or thousands of dollars per year to your practice, so leveraging promotions and coupons is a smart way to capture those dollars.
Tip # 3: Identify something that sets you apart and promote it:
One of the golden rules of any good marketing plan is setting oneself apart from the competition. There are likely many other dental practices in your area that are competing for the same prospective patients you are. You need to find a way to set yourself apart. You can accomplish this without resorting to gimmicks like standing on your head or posing with Siberian tigers in your ads! The key is to home in on some key brand identifiers that will set apart your practice from the others in your area. For example, try becoming proficient at a particular cosmetic dentistry technique. Or, simply become known as the bright smile dentist or the kid-friendly dentist in your area. Your prospects will identify with your new image and be more likely to give you a try.
Tip # 4: Train reception staff on how to present your services verbally in an effective way:
Ask yourself: who are the first persons to interface with your prospects? That's right: it is your phone attendants and your in-office reception staff. To attract, acquire and retain more patients, it is important that your staff knows how to talk to prospects and keep clients happy. This goes beyond making sure that your staff is merely courteous and polite. Rather, you should train them to memorize a script that they can recite concerning your services whenever meeting a new prospect. Of course, there is no need for your staff to memorize the script verbatim – in fact, that could sound creepy or unnatural! Rather, they should learn the script and then create their own variations on that theme that works well for them. The script should be written in such a way that it positions your practice in a unique way (see Tip # 3 above) and describes a few of your most important (and lucrative) dental services in a way that does not sound sales-y.
Tip # 5: Send your hygienists to get trained on better conversation skills:
While it is your reception staff who first meets and greets your patients, it is your hygienists who spend the most time with them. Even though your patients may be necessarily rendered silent during their routine teeth cleanings, your hygienists should be trained to become excellent conversationalists. Sure, that's not why you hired them, but consider this: it is a people world, as they say, and employing a staff of interesting, friendly hygienists will keep your patients coming back for years to come.
Consider these 5 tips for getting more patients into your dental chairs. From effective, targeted direct mail campaigns to smart branding and training a courteous, engaging staff, you have at your disposal a range of tools for improving your revenue. These tips will work even if you are on a shoestring budget and even in the face of stiff competition.