This past year has been the true test for many practices as to their efficiency, organization and marketing skills. Most survived. Many survived well. Some are still working on it.
What is the biggest secret to flourishing and prospering against all odds? There are many, many vital parts to running a successful practice, such as having the right team with the right attitude, the right equipment to deliver your services, excellent leadership skills and so on. However, there is one aspect of running a practice that will cause it to shrink or expand and that is effective marketing.
Upping the ante in marketing
The marketing gurus are telling us that right now we need to increase our marketing efforts by at least 30 percent from what we were doing pre-COVID-19. If you don’t, you may find that your practice is either still struggling to get the numbers back up to pre-COVID levels, or else stagnating and not growing and making up for the loss of income last year. Follow this rule: Drive in more new business than your office can waste.
Practices that are doing very well are the ones who were early adopters of the marketing message, and have gotten busy increasing their efforts, sometimes in new and creative ways.
Successful marketing ideas
There are literally hundreds of marketing actions, but here is an assortment that have proven to add to the growth of practices. None of them is huge nor a “magic bullet”; it is a matter of the cumulative quantity of actions.
Obviously, Google ads are proven to work for some practices. However, the staff taking the incoming calls must be able to actually convert the callers into new patients, one for one. And this is where the loss of income occurs. In fact, studies have shown that staff lose two to five shoppers every week who should have become a new patient.
There are companies who can help with this and offer call monitoring and coaching to ensure your team delivers a 5-star customer service experience that leaves every patient feeling like a VIP. And this will drive your income up.
Google “sweet spot”
Canadian marketing expert at TheBestMedia.com, Rob says that stats show that only 30% of people who go on Google to find a new practitioner look at Google ads and 70% skip over them. There are actually three places to be seen on Google when someone is searching for a new dentist in their area: the ads at the top, the second section which is where the map comes up and three practices in your area are featured with the map, and then below that is the organic section.
The sweet spot is the map section. You don’t pay to be there; you simply have to have truly exceptional SEO done on your website and appear on lots of platforms where Google can find you and give you a high ranking, and this is easier and cheaper than you may think. Along with your listing appearing there, your Google Review stars appear, and these can also make and break the potential new patient’s choice. If there are 3 practices listed there (the usual), it may come down to which practice has the best reviews. This is the coveted place to show up on a Google search.
About 80 percent of dental websites on the internet are ineffective. Websites are the portal or window to your practice. Almost everyone looks at 2 things before calling your practice for the first time: your website and your Google Reviews. Therefore, lack of a truly well-designed, impactful website, loses you substantial income.
Many dentists have patients who love you and want to tell the world about you and your practice. In most provinces, you can post on social media their picture and a written testimonial, or a short video expressing their delight in the treatment you and your team gave them. These can be shown in your practice on the walls in frames. You can obtain an online copy of a waiver the patient can sign giving you permission to publish their testimonial online, etc. (Ignore this idea if your province’s college or association forbids this.)
Your front window
If you are on a ground floor location, you have another “portal” to your practice and that is your front window. Many practices do not make effective use of this opportunity to attract new patients. Some have huge screens with a pretty face on it that patients do not relate to. Instead, have a great photo of the practice owner with the caption: “I am Dr. ____. Come in and meet us!” There are many variations on this that can personalize the practice instead of looking generic.
What makes your practice unique
To identify your “USP” (Unique Selling Proposition) that all branding companies talk about, you need to survey your patients. Ask them questions like, “What do you like most about our practice?” Or, “What would you tell friends and family about our practice?” Or, “How would you describe Dr. X to others?” The staff must record the answers accurately and must not feed ideas to the patient.
One of our client’s staff did this survey on over 100 patients during a 2-week period and got a surprising answer that was very effectively used in future promo. It was predominantly a Greek practice, and a high percentage of the patients described the dentist as having a “feather light touch” (there is a Greek word for this). Another practice found that patients loved that the dentist has “soft, gentle hands.”
Maybe it is your office décor that is so stunning that everyone spreads the word about you. Perhaps it is extra special services your practice provides –“concierge services” such as coffee, tea, sparkling water, a warm blanket, a place to charge your cell phone while you get treated, headphones to listen to your choice of music while you are in the chair, and so on. There are endless ideas in this arena.
Find out your USP and use it on all social platforms and marketing efforts. Make your practice stand out!
Most practices do not post enough on their Facebook pages to encourage patient interaction. There are a lot of excellent messages and promotional material, photos, games and prizes that can be put on your Facebook page to make it engaging.
Do a Live Facebook video (use your phone) and talk for 10-15 minutes about something patients might be interested in. You can attract followers and it is another way for Google to find you and increase your ranking.
Don’t forget that Facebook ads are just as valuable as Google ads and are far cheaper. They just need to be well-designed and sent to targeted audiences.
Who knew that selfies could be an exciting promotional action? Making a quick 10–15-second selfie video that you text to a new patient you’re seeing the next day can make a wonderful impression. Just say, “I just wanted to say hi and that I am very much looking forward to meeting you tomorrow and finding out how we can help you. See you then!”
Here’s another use of a selfie: instead of making the Hurt List call by phone at the end of the day, do quick selfies for each one saying, “Hi Jane, It’s Dr. X and I just wanted to check in with you to make sure that you are doing fine now. If you have questions, please call” (10–15 seconds, sent via text).
In the end, let your creative juices flow. I am sure there are a few hundred more ideas, but these, properly done, will give you a boost in numbers!
About the Author
Janice Wheeler, is the President of The Art Of Management Inc. which has grown more than 700 Canadian dental offices over the last 31years. She is an international speaker, has written over 500 management articles (www.amican.com), regularly contributes to various Canadian healthcare journals, wrote a book “Practical Advice for Practice Owners”, and has an awesome team who love helping dentists reach their practice goals.
RELATED ARTICLE: Three Essential Elements of Dental Marketing