Ready to boost your dental marketing strategy and grow your practice? Focus on public relations.
Growing your dental practice can be done in a variety of ways. You could make sure your business appears in as many local listings as possible. You can take out Google search ads so that you end up near the top of the page when people search for “dentists near me,” or you could pay for banner ads on local online magazines.
However, any efforts you take to get your name out there will mean nothing if there isn’t a positive perception of your practice permeating your web presence. Public relations professionals work to maintain and promote a positive image for their clients. Your public relations strategies and tactics should focus on the same thing. If you’re looking at building your dental business, you need to keep these seven public relations strategies in mind.
Collect reviews from your current clients
It takes a mountain of good reviews to combat one negative review – the ratio is about 40 to 1. Imagine losing a ton of potential new business because one person posted about a bad experience. There are two things you need to do in light to this. First, respond to any negative reviews you have. Be honest and transparent with your responses, but make it clear, even if you resolved the issue somewhere else, that you have heard this complaint and have taken the proper next steps. Someone else who may be thinking about booking an appointment with you might see an unanswered complaint as an indication that you don’t care enough to respond.
Second, actively ask for reviews and testimonials from current patients. If you’re not doing this, it’s going to be hard to stay ahead of that positive-to-negative ratio. Think about the last time you were pleased with a product or service. How often, when you feel like that, do you write a positive review? Probably not all that often. If things go as expected, people are less likely to share their stories about it. However, if something goes wrong, they are sure to tell everyone they know to stay far away.
Maintaining positive public relations has a lot to do with being proactive and getting out in front of people with positive news and words about your practice. It can be time consuming to reach out and ask for reviews, but you can use tools to automate the process. After every appointment, send out an email or text message asking patients to rate their experience, and encourage them to leave reviews. Link right to where you want to build your reviews – Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc. You may be surprised how many reviews you start getting when you simply ask.
Share newsworthy moments
You can’t expect people to know about things going on at your dental practice without you getting the word out. Creating press releases and sharing them with news outlets, as well as publishing updates to your own website, is a great way to start generating positive news about your business. If you’ve opened a new office, implemented new safety protocols, purchased a new machine, or have an event series coming up, these would be great topics for a press release. Keep in mind that these stories should be newsworthy in some way if you expect them to be picked up by local news outlets – the story should be timely, relevant, have proximity to the reader, impact a great number of people, etc.
Sometimes, press releases you write will not be published. It’s entirely up to reporters what they choose to share. However, forming relationships with journalists can help you better understand what types of stories they’re looking for and write more relevant press releases in the future.
You can also share press releases with local small business organizations – chambers of commerce, county business alliances, to name a couple. Some of these organizations will publish a story about your business included with a membership or for an additional fee. If you really want to make sure a story about your business gets out, this could be a good avenue to do that.
Host events and invite the community
Even if things will be virtual for a while longer, that shouldn’t stop you from hosting events. You can create virtual or in-person events and invite the community. Say you’re offering a new type of teeth whitening services – the best way to get the word out could be to host a virtual open house, where people can ask questions, get a demonstration, and one attendee wins a free session. You can collect email addresses to enter in the raffle, and then everyone who attended can get notifications from you on future promotions. It’s a great way to raise awareness about your offerings, build leads, and grow your business.
Events could include Q&A sessions, promotions for specific services or new technologies, how-tos, you name it. Think about your particular expertise and what might be interesting to the community, then turn that into an event.
Partner with influencers
Do you feel like you’re too small of a business to work with influencers? Chances are, there are people in your area who have a large audience on Instagram and may be able to promote your services for a more affordable rate than you may think. Sites like Upfluence can help you find people to work with, or you can search for people yourself by creating a target persona and searching hashtags popular with that target and your geographic area to find the right fit. Offer free or discounted services to influencers in exchange for promotion. This is important: Make sure these influencers have a following in the geographical area you want to target.
Become a local expert
Sometimes, you don’t know what you might be able to do until you ask. Local publications, either online or in print, sometimes work with experts to publish columns. Take a look at some of the magazines and newspapers published in your area. If you don’t see something like that running, inquire about it.
Your best bet would be to talk to editors who write about health topics. You could even submit an article draft so they could get a feel for what you might want to publish. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and even if you get a “no” the first time around, you do get on their radar. If there are no opportunities currently available, publish that advice on your website. Then you have a portfolio of content ready for future pitches, more content on your website, and more chances for people to find you through organic search.
Everyone may have a podcast these days, but that’s because listening to podcasts has become incredibly popular. 70% of people are familiar with the term “podcasting,” and more than half have listened to a podcast. While you could start your own, the easier thing to do is to find podcasts already in production and contact them about appearing on an episode. Search on Apple podcasts or other listings for topics around health, or see who in your area has a popular podcast. You can then promote appearances on your personal channels as well.
Last, but not least, have a crisis communication plan
Most of the advice above applies to when everything runs smoothly. However, it is almost inevitable that something will happen in your business or in the world that will be out of your control. For a great example, just look at 2020! You need to have a plan for what you need to communicate in the event of all different kinds of crises. While you can draft these up yourself, it’s not a bad idea to enlist a PR professional to create a crisis plan for you. In fact, there are some who specialize in this very service.
If you want to take on the project internally, first think about what is most likely to go wrong in your dental practice. Possible crises could include public litigation, natural disasters, issues with the building, a crisis involving a staff member, and so on. Write down a plan for how to respond to these scenarios. When something does happen, you can get out in front of it and not waste any time getting a response together.
Ready to take your digital marketing to the next level? Integrating your practice management tools with NexHealth is the perfect next step. Learn more and schedule a demo today.