- Practices should know the demographic of their patients in order to market to them effectively.
- Once you have identified your demographic, you need to find ways of working networking more closely with them.
- Create an image of your practice that aligns with your target audience and is easily identifiable for patients.
- Utilise social media platforms to open an effective line of communication with your patients, allowing for feedback, notifications and updates to be passed on.
- The physical presentation of your practice working areas should give a positive perception of your practice. This includes new, fresh decor as well as keeping areas tidy.
- Try to offer something different to your competitors to attract and retain patients, eg implants, and you can also promote your services to other practitioners.
Dentistry is undeniably competitive in the UK. Maintaining a strong patient base nowadays is harder than ever before, thanks to shifting demands of the public. What’s more, patients are now transient, less loyal and more informed – meaning practitioners must do everything they can to attract and retain their patients. With this in mind, here’s five top marketing tips to help you compete with other practices.
1) Target marketing
Knowing exactly who your patients are will enable you to tailor your services accordingly, to best suit the needs of your target demographic. For example, if you are located in an area that is home to many young families, it would be beneficial to offer specialist paediatric care, furnish your waiting room with child-appropriate materials and provide amenities for breast-feeding or pregnant mothers. These will fast become USPs for your practice and would make good features for any promotional marketing.
Once you have identified your demographic, you can work towards networking more closely with them. If we were to continue with the above example, you could identify other groups, such as a parents’ forums or nurseries, and liaise with them in order to attract more patients.
Target marketing may seem more onerous than mass-marketing to a blanket audience and, indubitably, it will require a greater degree of research to be effective – but the results will almost certainly be worth the extra effort.
Creating a definitive image for your practice is crucial. Through it, your business will become identifiable, for better or worse, so it is absolutely imperative to get it right. Be sure it aligns with your target demographic: something ‘cute’ or child-orientated, for example, will obviously not appeal to a more business-minded audience.
From here you can start to create promotional material that utilises your new image. Recognisable but low-key logos and simple but catchy styles are most suitable for this type of marketing, as they can be reproduced easily and consistently, without losing impact.
These can be incorporated onto newsletters, business cards and letter-heads, in order to create a coherent marketing message to your existing patient-base and beyond.
3) Social media
Love it or loathe it, there can be no question about the importance of social media in modern marketing. As an efficient way of reaching people on a personal level, there can be no denying social media’s utility. By taking your practice onto platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, you can increase your outreach exponentially. You will also be able to open an effective line of communication with your patients, allowing for feedback, notifications and updates to be passed to and fro with ease.
It’s important to note, however, that social media is only effective if maintained regularly. Without almost constant attention, posts and interaction, social media can become detrimental, so be prepared to commit fully or not at all.
4) Office presentation
Maintaining a high level of tidiness is, of course, vital within a dental practice. You can be sure that, regardless of the skill with which you deliver the clinical aspect of your service, if your practice is untidy, poorly decorated or in desperate need of refurbishment, your patients will judge accordingly. Physical presentation is absolutely crucial for encouraging a positive perception of your practice, so it’s worth your time and money making your workspace look its best.
In doing so, you can continue the image that you will have created for your marketing purposes. Consistency lends itself to the perception of professionalism and quality.
If you do take the time to refurbish your practice, be sure not to waste the opportunity a project like this can present. For example, a practice overhaul can be a good excuse for an opening ceremony: a great way of attracting interest in your business.
Does your practice offer something different? Are you, for example, the only dentist in the area who offers dental implants? If so, you should be promoting your services to other practitioners as well as potential patients. By adopting the referral system, you can achieve more business from different avenues, as well as encouraging a strong professional relationship with other practices in the area.
More than anything, this requires effective self-promotion, since other dentists will not trust you with their patients unless you have proved yourself to them. As such, you need to offer certain reassurances, not only in a clinical sense, but also in an ethical and professional sense.
You also need to precisely identify your referrers’ needs. There is no point in promoting yourself to a practice that already offers the service you are trying to provide and, likewise, it would prove fruitless to offer certain treatments to a practice that does not encounter that demand in the first place. Indeed, just as with your own patients, promoting your practice to referring practitioners requires target marketing and a little research to be effective.
Effective marketing can offer you a competitive edge but can obviously take time to implement successfully. You can be sure that your competition will be marketing themselves – can you afford not to?
About the Author
Jeremy Hedrick is Vice President of Network Development and has been an integral part of the Careington and Munroe Sutton teams for over 14 years. As Vice President, Jeremy is responsible for the strategic leadership of network development for both Careington and Munroe Sutton, overseeing business development, licensing and regulation, recruiting, credentialing and quality assurance. Jeremy’s primary focus is on the continued growth and expansion of the Careington and Munroe Sutton dental networks, which are currently among some of the largest dental networks in the US and the UK.
Munroe Sutton offers participating practices exclusive marketing services in exchange for providing its Healthy Discounts scheme to patients. For more information, please call 0808 234 3558 or visit www.munroesutton.co.uk