54% of the dentists spend over $1,000 a month on marketing, while a mere 7% spend nothing at all – The Wealthy Dentist
Marketing a practice can be a significant line item on the monthly budget, but it doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. There are ways to effectively market your practice that keep costs down and patient revenue up.
While keeping in mind all of the daily overhead cost considerations—running payroll, conducting inventory, paying rent, and utilities—we know there’s a need to balance economic necessities with the healthcare interests of our patients. When competing for scarce resources, it’s important to both nurture growth while also maintaining what you’ve worked so hard to build.
Below are some proven marketing principles that can help you grow sustainably and cost-effectively. Specifically, we’ll look at how you can demonstrate value by having key differentiators in your methodology, the importance of promoting dialogue with patients to gain valuable insights, and old-school techniques revised for the digital age.
Have A Key Differentiator: Explain And Promote It
It’s not enough to have the latest technology or unique experiences if none of your patients know about it. Don’t be another orthodontist that tries to tempt patients with the usual, “warm smiles” and “family-friendly” routine. Everyone else is doing it and you’ll get lost in the pack. Often, orthodontists are conducting innovative work inside practices, but potential patients are none the wiser. Of course, that’s only one part of the equation. You also need to make sure your patients understand how it values them. For example, if you offer lingual braces, shout it out front and center on your webpage and social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Have fun: tell patients, “Hide your braces, not your smile!” Suppose your practice conducted an entire clinic redesign to ensure COVID social distancing is rigorously adhered to; don’t be shy about telling the world. Or, if you offer telehealth tools that enable virtual visits, let everyone know that they don’t have to visit in person as often.
Remember: Create value with everything that’s unique to your practice and promote it in a way that showcases value to patients.
Listen: It’s a Dialogue Between Patients And Doctors
To fully understand the value of any service you offer, you must listen to your patients. For example, some orthodontists believe that consultations are an inefficient, yet vital, part of the patient/doctor journey. To understand how patients view these initial visits, we asked patients their thoughts. Surprisingly, patients also found these touchpoints important, yet burdensome. Listening can provide innovative solutions that satisfy both parties, like new teleorthodontic options. It’s becoming clear that many doctors who viewed telehealth tools as ‘nice to have,’ now view them as a necessity to strengthen critical doctor/patient dialogue, especially during COVID-19.
Another example can be something seemingly minor, like finding out your patients’ least favorite procedures when going through treatment. For example, many patients (understandably) don’t enjoy the goopy material used to make impressions. When you upgrade to a new intraoral scanner, communicate your improvement so patients feel heard and appreciate the extra effort. Per Insight #1, be sure to broadcast that you purchased such a resource to distinguish yourself from the competition.
Remember: Only by listening, can you adapt your offerings to meet everyone’s needs.
Word Of Mouth: Happy Patients Like To Talk
Satisfied patients like to brag that they have the best doctor. That could be you. Find ways to document all positive sentiments. It’s nice to hear it face-to-face, but even nicer if it’s written down. If you’ve developed a rapport with a patient, be bold and ask them if they are willing to write a testimonial. You will be amazed just how willing people are to make their opinions known.
The question is: How do you best showcase your testimonial? You can differentiate yourself by creatively showcasing the beautiful smiles that you helped create. Invite your patients to post their new smiles on Instagram or give your practice a shoutout on Facebook.
Remember: No matter what marketing tactics you employ, meaningful touchpoints and dialogue with patients is a sure way to gain valuable insights, and potentially new business.