For many dental clinics, marketing isn’t a priority.
According to the 2019 Kaufman Hall Healthcare Consumerism Index, just 8% of healthcare providers are implementing best-in-class marketing strategies.
This is great news for you––it means you have a significant competitive advantage if you invest in just one or two marketing strategies for your dental clinic.
Keep reading to find out more about the foundational pillars of marketing for your dental practice, and four ideas that will help you either kickstart or revive your marketing strategies.
Want to learn more about healthcare marketing? Check out these other articles:
Top 4 Cost-effective Marketing Tactics to Grow Your Dental Practice
7 PR Strategies to Grow Your Dental Practice
Everything You Need to Know about Healthcare Marketing for Millennials
Tools and Tips for Patient Retention
Why your healthcare marketing techniques might fail
Before we give you some ideas about how to promote your dental practice, here are three things you need to know about why those marketing tactics would fail.
These are the basics. Make sure you have these in place before you begin other promotional efforts, so that you’re not wasting resources on strategies that aren’t set up for success in the first place.
- Lack of online reviews: 84% of people trust online reviews when they’re making decisions about whether or not to buy something. If you don’t have a Google business and/or Facebook listing with a healthy amount of online reviews, your competitors who do will win without any effort at all. So make sure you’re proactive about asking your best patients for online reviews on Google and Facebook. Find out more about how to do that here.
- No overt differentiating value: Your clinic isn’t just competing with other clinics; you’re competing with tech giants like Amazon and Walmart, who are starting to move into the healthcare market. According to the 2019 Kaufman Hall Healthcare Consumerism Index, 88% of people agree that “health systems are vulnerable to consumer-friendly offerings from non-hospital competitors.” So how do you arm yourself against this reality? Pinpoint all the reasons why your clinic is better than your competitors and change the copy on your website and in your key messaging to express exactly that.
- No online booking: People may be able to find you through search or social media, read glowing reviews, and, to your delight, decide to book an appointment with your clinic. But, after all that, they could still not choose to actually book an appointment because they can’t book online. Online booking is now a must have customer service option so patients don’t get stuck at the last step before becoming a patient. Find out more about online booking here.
Four Marketing Ideas to Boost New Appointments
Now that you know some of the basics, we’re going to hit you with one more basic: the marketing funnel.
It looks something like this:
Credit: Sprout Social
Every marketing strategy targets an audience that sits within one of these buckets: awareness, consideration, conversion.
Your goal as a business owner is to move someone from the awareness stage––they know about your business––to the conversion stage––they become a patient. To do that, you’ll need multiple tactics that hit audiences at different points in their journey.
Here are four marketing ideas that address various stages of the marketing funnel for your dental clinic:
- Talk about dentistry on several podcasts as a way to become a thought leader in your niche.
Podcasts won’t get you immediate new appointments, but they shouldn’t be overlooked because of their potential reach.
According to marketing agency Convince & Convert, 75% of Americans are now familiar with podcasts, and 55% of Americans have listened to a podcast. Podcast listenership has grown by 37.5% in three years.
Consider pitching a few podcasts to start building your thought leadership repertoire. Even if someone misses the podcast, your appearance will allow you to mention it on your website, which reinforces your clinic’s credibility when someone is deciding to book an appointment.
Here are a few dentist-specific podcasts to consider:
- The Thriving Dentist Show
- Navigating Dental Insurance
- The Dentalpreneur podcast
- Your Dental Success
- Dentistry Uncensored
But, we know you may be thinking, Why would I want to promote myself to other dentists?
Well, this is just a start. When you start listening to other podcasts and get an appearance on one or two, you’ll gain some momentum and know what you should be looking for in terms of smaller podcasts that serve your local audience. That’s where you’ll need to do some research.
When you have your list of podcasts you’d like to appear on, then you’ll need to craft a pitch. Your perfect pitch is made up of two main components:
- An original angle
- Why you’re qualified
Your angle is this: What’s the most interesting thing about dentistry that this podcast’s audience would like?
Your qualifications cover why you’re in a unique position to speak on that topic.
Get in touch with podcasters and cut to the chase with these two key messages, and you’re on your way to scoring some great free promotion.
- Prepare an end-of-year insurance campaign.
A lot of marketing is about creating urgency. For dental clinics, one of the best times to leverage urgency is at the end of the year, when you can remind people that their dental insurance is about to reset.
Millions of Americans with dental coverage don’t use all their benefits in one year. At the beginning of December (you now have an entire year to prepare!), send an email offer to your patients that looks something like this.
This isn’t your typical reminder letter––this is a clear offer with a call-to-action button and an image that pulls you in.
When you’re designing your offer email, go with a bold color to entice people to click on your call-to-action button.
Write a clear, concise headline, state an expiry date, and offer people something special for booking an appointment before December 31.
- Test a direct mail campaign.
Stage: Awareness and/or Consideration
You’ll need a solid mailing list and some resources to make this happen, but this might be worth it if you have:
- A large enough list of people who have expressed interest in your clinic but haven’t booked an appointment yet
- A neighborhood that has experienced high moving rates during the pandemic
According to Pew Research Center, 22% of Americans moved during the pandemic or know someone who did. Those people might need a new dentist.
If your market research shows your neighborhood has undergone significant changes this year, you may want to invest in new-to-town cards to beat your neighborhood competitors to the punch.
New residents, especially ones closest to your clinic, will choose you out of convenience––all you need to do is show them you exist.
- Go all-in on asking for online reviews for three months.
More than half of millennials read online reviews when they’re looking for a healthcare provider. On top of that, 97% of people between the ages of 24-34 believe online comments are reliable.
Online reviews can make or break someone’s decision to book an appointment. People under 40 want to know that other people have had great experiences with a dentist before committing to one.
Positive and negative reviews matter, so we recommend investing in a mechanism to stimulate positive online reviews immediately after patients leave your clinic. You’ll also need to devote time every week to engage with online reviews by responding thoughtfully to negative ones and thanking people for the positive ones.
Bonus: Take screenshots of positive online reviews and post them on your social media channels. That way your reviews instantly reach more people who are considering booking an appointment. The review may just be the thing that seals the deal.