Marketing your practice well requires the right marketing mix … it takes hard work, innovative, thoughtful ideas and consistent effort.
Over the upcoming weeks, I will have many conversations with doctors and office managers wanting to attract more new patients to finish their year off strong and set themselves up for success to begin the new year. Some discussions are with dentists getting started with their first new practice; others are with dentists and office managers of existing offices who would like to see a boost to their business.
I took a call recently from the office manager of a new dental practice; they opened their doors only four months ago and had not gotten off to the successful start that they were expecting. They explained to me that their main goal was pure and simple to acquire more new patients. He then went on and asked me a very direct question, “Are community mailers the best way to attract new patients?”
After a short pause, my answer to him was, “No, not when they are working on their own and unsupported by other marketing devices.” From there I went on to explain, to consistently be attracting new patients to your practice (the key word here is consistently), you need to have the right marketing mix in place. Having all of your eggs in a one-marketing-initiative basket is a poor approach and in today’s competitive space will, in all likelihood, not provide the desired end result.
Taking a look at our own roster of our most successful accounts, the common link is that they all have the right marketing mix working for them. For example, Dr. R has had a mailer campaign running with us for the past twelve months and with every check in call, the mailer campaign is doing very well. As much as the design, message and quality with this mailer campaign are on point, Dr. R. has a bigger picture marketing mix in place, with the primary purpose of attracting more new patients.
So, what makes up an effective marketing mix you ask? While every dental practice is different, with its own range of media and event opportunities available to them, we believe that every marketing mix needs to include some core elements. To get things started, the marketing mix that we advise to our clients employs a 4-plus-1 approach.
1. A Modern & Mobile Website
87% of internet users now have a smartphone. (Source: Global Web Index).
I think that we can all agree that most of us have some sort of mobile computer, be it a smartphone, tablet or laptop. No matter how someone hears about your practice, they will use the Internet to learn more about you. First, your website design needs to look modern and clean, as you only have six seconds to engage them to go deeper into your pages. Next, whether on a full monitor or a smartphone, you want to make it easy for people to get the information that they need, including seeing the doctor(s), team and look of the office. Oh yes, and then it is about leveraging search engine optimization or an adword campaign to get your great mobile friendly website found.
2. An Engaging Facebook Strategy
Three million advertisers are now using Facebook to reach their existing customers and attract new ones. (Source: AdWeek).
More and more people today are using Facebook as a way of sourcing and learning more about businesses. Your practice should have a Facebook page that is informative and engaging. This is the tool that you will use to stay in front of your patients with events and happenings at your dental office. The more inviting and engaging your page is, the more likely people will share your posts and get new people talking about you. Talking about you in a very professional manner that is. And if you want to take things to a higher-level still, run a contest that will connect with people on a lifestyle level. Facebook is a very exciting marketing opportunity for any business, especially if you’re ready to have some fun with it. As much as you are a professional practice, remember not to take yourself too seriously either.
3. A Proactive Patient Referral System
65% of new business comes from referrals. (Source: New York Times)
No matter what your business, having your best clients referring you is a great way of attracting more new business; however, the truth is many businesses including most dental practices that I meet with have very little in place by way of a formal system to do so. Asking patients for referrals can be very difficult for most practices, as it’s something that does not come naturally. These however are some of your best relationships, and at the end of the day, you are a business. After all, what business isn’t looking for new customers in today’s ultra competitive marketplace? Asking for a referral, introduction or to pass your name along is a very important part of business growth today. By developing a system to do so, you take a lot of pressure and awkwardness out of the equation. Once someone has a sense of what the system is, it is much easier to adapt and have it running continually to deliver consistent, positive results.
4. An Eye-Catching Local Community Presence
67% of unaddressed print advertising are actioned. (Source: Canada Post)
Take a look at the media options that are available around you. Select the one that can provide the most value in terms of connecting and getting eye contact with the most people possible in your local area. For my money, professional mailer campaigns remain the best way to get your name out there in a local area. The households around you are living busy lives and really value convenience when then can get it. Combining a great design with the right message and call to action, and you will be making a positive impression which sparks a potential response.
And the Plus-One is what brings those first four points together. The idea of team and having everyone in your practice working together to make the most of the four points noted above is imperative for immediate and ongoing success:
- Everyone in your practice needs to know the domain name of your website.
- Together, everyone needs to be participating with ideas to be posting on Facebook and also promoting the page to existing patients, encouraging them to like and follow us.
- All team members should understand the structure of the dental office’s patient referral system and be confident in proactively asking patients for referrals.
- Everyone should also be aware of the external marketing that is working for the practice in the local community.
These are especially important ideas for the front desk staff, who should be ready to answer the phone to make the most of prospective new patient opportunities.
As good as a voice (Gord Downie) might sound on its own, it will sound a whole lot better when accompanied by the right guitars (Paul Langlois & Rob Baker), a strong bassist (Gord Sinclair) and some steady drumming (Johnny Fay). Yes, I just used The Tragically Hip in this dental practice marketing article (Thank you boys for so much great music – Best wishes Gordie)! What can I say, good marketing is like good music.
You mix the right instruments together, the right way, and you too will have something that people will take notice of and really want to listen to. With the right marketing mix you can start hearing more of that sweet sound as your practice telephone rings with potential new patients.
About the Author
Dan Pisak is the Co-Founder and President of Full Contact Marketing (FCM), a firm that has consulted and facilitated work with more than 1,000 health related practices across Canada and the United States. With a focus on having a good game plan and a team approach to marketing, Dan takes the role of “Practice Marketing Coach” in working with entrepreneurial minded practice owners to help them realize their full revenue potential www.fullcontactmarketing.ca.