What kind of practice marketing approach do you take—comprehensive or hit-or-miss?
A hit-or-miss approach to attracting new patients isn’t nearly as effective as a steady, evidence-based and fully integrated marketing approach. Too many dentists don’t get everything they need from their marketing, and their new patient numbers (or lack thereof) show it.
Let’s take a familiar example of a comprehensive system—your vehicle’s engine. Everything in your engine is there for a reason, and there are only a few things you could do without and still expect an engine to perform reasonably well.
For maximum “new patient performance,” your dental marketing system should be comprehensive and inclusive as well. And in this interconnected age, the online environment is an important focus for your marketing efforts. You can’t build a functional marketing system out of only some postcards, the odd newspaper ad and a few emails. You simply don’t have everything you need.
What you’ll need
The essential elements of a comprehensive marketing approach are:
1. A strong web presence. Some 98 percent of prospects begin their search for a dentist online. To be found by searchers, you’ll need state-of-the-art search engine optimization, including substantial content that meets Google’s quality standards. To attract those prospects, you’ll need copy that is understandable and focused on the benefits to the patient, plus a high degree of engagement on your practice’s social media pages.
2. Conversion features. You can’t count on someone who visits your website immediately deciding to schedule an appointment. If you can convert that prospect into a qualified lead by getting their agreement to receive additional communication from your practice, you can stay in front of them until they’re ready to choose you.
3. Extensive, dental condition-specific email streams. Following up with prospects on a predetermined schedule is essential to educating and influencing dental prospects. Because prospects’ needs and wants vary, your email streams should be specific to each prospective patient’s dental concerns.
4. A method of tracking results. Few dental practices can afford to waste marketing dollars. Without the means to accurately determine which marketing channels are producing, practices can spend themselves broke. Research has shown that patient self-report is very unreliable, yet many practices still rely on patients to remember which particular ad, social media post or email led them to book an appointment. Phone tracking is the most reliable method of evaluating marketing effectiveness.
With that said, every dentist’s situation is different, so there are some auxiliary components that may not apply to you. I believe that some of them—direct mail campaigns, for instance—are like traction control on your vehicle. They should come into play only under specific circumstances.
Marketing approach ‘add-ons’
Much like a new car dealer offers a range of options, some recent innovations can help even a comprehensive marketing system perform better.
• Online review and reputation management service. Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth advertising; they’re critical to your marketing efforts. Busy dental practices often don’t have the bandwidth to monitor online review sites, but a single critical review can have a chilling effect on your patient attraction efforts. The longer it’s out there without being addressed, the more damage it can do. The answer for busy practices is to automate the review monitoring process. There are a number of review monitoring programs on the market.
• Ongoing search engine optimization service. This is one area where almost all dental practices fall short. There’s a “fire and forget” mentality when it comes to practice websites. Ten years ago, that wouldn’t have been much of a problem but today, the requirements for being found in local search are changing at a fantastic rate. Dental practices that fail to keep their website and social media marketing optimized risk losing prospects to competitors. Your practice could hire an outside provider to update your site’s search engine optimization every six to 12 months, but ongoing optimization is a better solution because your site remains current on best practices.
• Dental practice phone technique. The final step in any dental practice’s new patient funnel is when a prospect books an appointment. Typically, that’s done over the phone. The new patient call is the make-or-break moment for your marketing efforts; every prospect who calls your practice but isn’t appointed is a waste of your marketing dollars.
Going Straight to the Source
SmartBox is perhaps the exemplar of a comprehensive dental marketing provider. Our industry-leading Patient Attraction System provides inclusive, wrap-around marketing services that result in a steady stream of more and better new patients.
Our doctors can focus on actually doing the dentistry and delivering world-class patient care, rather than overseeing their marketing.
Colin Receveur, a nationally recognized dental-marketing expert and speaker, is the author of several books on internet marketing, including the forthcoming Rise UP! The Keys to Ultimate Dental Practice Success. His company, SmartBox, helps more than 550 dentists on three continents get more patients, more profits and more freedom.
Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sustained economic boom has given rise to an unusual phenomenon: Dentists across the United States complain of having too many patients, leaving them practically running between operatories trying to keep up with packed schedules. At the same time, the vast majority of those patients are looking for the least amount of dentistry at the lowest cost.
Dentists today work too hard for too long for too little. That’s not the sort of “success” that dentists should be embracing.
Rise UP! The Keys to Ultimate Dental Practice Success is the latest work from Colin Receveur, founder and chief executive officer of SmartBox. In his book, Receveur identifies the market segment where dentists can realize the highest average case value—the “high ground.” This tier is composed of prospects with the ability and willingness to pay more for elective dental procedures from their dentist of choice.
Receveur lays out a point-by-point plan to take, hold and profit from the high ground in almost every dentist’s market. He shows dentists how they can work less, earn more and enjoy life by following the approach in this book.
Taking the high ground means far fewer battles with tightfisted dental insurance companies. And it makes the steadily growing corporate dentistry presence largely irrelevant to the success of smaller dental practices.
Townie dentist Dr. David Moffet, who runs the practice coaching business Ultimate Patient Experience, provided the foreword to Receveur’s latest work. In it, Moffet writes: