With this article we will look at marketing strategies & business culture in general that can help a dentist establish his clinic. Its not just about online marketing or advertising – it is also about personality and way you treat and manage your patients and staff. So lets jot down the basics quickly:
dental marketing tips
Strengthen your online presence
You cannot offer anything if people cannot find you. A great online presence helps tremendously. A good website is a MUST. Every dental practice that is serious about expanding their clientele should invest in a potent offline and online marketing plan.
Establish yourself as an expert in dentistry and/or your specialty. Use a blog or a social networking site such as Google+ or Facebook to post articles or links to what you have written. You can hire an online marketing firm to do all the above(and much more) or you could do some of them yourself.
Smile. If you are a great dentist, that helps obviously, but if it is not done in a warm and friendly manner then that could work against you – especially in India. As a dentist, you know that patients associate an appointment with being a pain in the neck (figuratively; literally, it can be a pain in the mouth). Turn this around and emphasize that your clinic is a place where they can improve themselves (a whiter smile, straighter teeth, etc.) at an affordable price.
Do all of this with a smile so that they will then associate visits with being warm and friendly. Take before-and-after photographs and post them on your website to emphasize the positive work that you are doing.
Treat every patient as your very best patient.
After all, during the time that you are seeing that patient, s/he is your very best patient! This is certainly easier said than done. After all, you may be having a bad day and you may be distracted. However, not everything is dependent on you. Ensure that the rest of your team–from the X-ray technician to the receptionist–is providing Wow! service consistently.
It is difficult also in that some patients react to perceived bad (or less than ideal) service differently. I, for one, am easy to please and will return unless I get harmful service from that business. However, there have been studies which show that many more people leave and never return after just one bad experience. You can avoid all of this by simply treating the patients in the best way possible.
The Business of FREE
A common practice among dentists is to offer a discount for new patients. There can be a lot of stress with anything that is new. This can be especially true for new patients who have to be re-introduced to X-ray machines and the record-keeping involved in incorporating them into your software’s database.
Perhaps they are new to your clinic because they have just moved into the area and have to deal with the stress of acclimatizing to it and organizing their new homes. A discount can go a long way toward alleviating that stress. And a grateful patient will be a long-term patient.
Everyone loves to save money and to get things for free. The disposable razor blades that you buy are often advertised as being “buy three and get one free”. Among all businesses in all industries, there is the idea of the “loss leader” which is more technically known as the razor-and-blades model of selling (in which you get a razor at a low or free price, so that the company can sell you the much more needed and profitable blades).
You can use these concepts in your dental practice. A common practice among dentists is to provide teeth whitening special offers. This can be a win-win situation if you have a patient who comes in wanting or needing a lot of cosmetic work. Perhaps you can vary the discount or freebie so that a patient who comes in for one service will return for another service. You can use the discount to promote your own products and services that you feel passionate about.
Following up and building relationships
Gather relevant contact information from the patient, and then send out frequent (but not too frequent–n more than one or two each month) flyers, emails and newsletters. These can be used to provide up-to-date and useful information such as special promotions, new specialties, or changes in office hours. You can also wish people on their birthdays and anniversary. This keeps your brand and service on their minds.
Referrals help a lot
You can encourage existing patients to refer that family, friends and colleagues. For some people (both the dentist and the patient alike), this can be an uncomfortable discussion unless you have an enthusiastic patient.
You can get referrals from not only your own existing patients but also other businesses and professionals. If you have a favorite restaurant, dry cleaner, corner grocery store or any other business then listen to clues from your patients. If she wonders about a moving company then you can give her a card from a moving company that you have a relationship with. Ofcourse, you need to make sure that the moving company is reputable and provides service that is the equal of yours. Otherwise, if she is disappointed in the moving company then she may become disappointed in you.
You can also sometimes refer a patient to a potential competitor. For example, if you specialize in cosmetic dentistry, and do not do dental implants then you can refer a patient to a dentist who is experienced in that (preferably in your office building, or nearby). Of course, the idea behind all of this is that the other professionals and businesses will also refer business to you or maybe work out a commission.