8 Ways to Attract New Patients
Improve Your Marketing ROI
(Return on Involvement)
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It’s a great time to be a dentist! Over the past five years, the profession has enjoyed favorable demographic trends, technological advances and growing awareness of important role oral hygiene plays in overall health and well-being, according to industry analysis firm IBISWORLD. Nevertheless, whether you are a single dentist or a large multi-specialty practice, new patients are your lifeblood and growing your practice means effectively engaging in Emotional Involvement Marketing. Experts in dental practice marketing use a benchmark 24-60 new patients per month for a single dentist. If patients aren’t lining up at your door, maybe it’s time to evaluate your marketing efforts. To help you get started, we’ve compiled our “top 8’ list of the best ways to attract new patients, ensuring you get a maximum return on involvement for every marketing investment.
1. Target the right patients
The first—and most important–step in acquiring new patients is determining what kind of patients you want to attract, based on revenue goals, service offerings and operational resources. Demographics of your practice area—age, income levels, percentage of patients who are insured, and more—also affect the way you identify your target patients. Take more time up front to do this right or your marketing efforts will fail.
2. Sell benefits/value vs. procedures
Consumers in general are focusing on value rather than features, so focus on marketing the benefits of your services. For example, you may think you’re selling a teeth whitening procedure but you’re really selling an improved appearance, which is directly related to a patient’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Make sure your marketing messages clearly state how your services benefit patients.
3. Shift from disease-based practice to being a holistic healthcare partner
With fewer decayed teeth, upcoming generations of children won’t require as much complex restorative dental care as they age, leading to a shift in services from traditional restorative care to cosmetic and preventive services. In addition, the medical community is beginning to recognize dentistry’s vital role in solving sleep and breathing problems, and in early detection of oral cancer. Establish relationships with referring medical professionals and market your practice as part of the overall healthcare continuum.
4. Dedicate resources to marketing
Be willing to commit sufficient dedicated resources to practice office marketing. If you do not have an external marketing budget, consider hiring an internal marketing coordinator, even on a part-time basis. The Levin Group’s 2016 annual practice research report concluded that even a part-time coordinator can result in a significant return on investment.
5. Talk up your technology
Most patients—especially Millennials—recognize the value of advanced equipment and technology, and are willing to pay more for these procedures. If you are investing in breakthrough products and procedures, promote it in all your marketing materials but be sure to clearly communicate patient benefits.
6. Use an integrated marketing approach
- Practice website
These days, having a website is a marketing imperative, even for the smallest practice—and for good reason. A Dental Economics survey showed that dental practice websites successfully attracted new patients for 40 percent of the survey respondents. Many dentists overlook the importance of a well-designed, informative, user-friendly website and it’s role in attracting and converting prospects into new patients. In addition, installing a statistics program like Google Analytics onto your web site will give you valuable insight into how well your site is performing.
- Patient reminders
Dentists typically use a patient reminder system (manual or automated phone, email, or text programs) to minimize cancellations. You can also use these reminders in a variety of ways to generate new business for your practice, including asking for referrals, reviews, and ratings.
- Patient referral programs
In a recent survey by the Levin Group Data Center, almost 90 percent of respondents identified referrals from current patients as their most successful marketing tactic, yet many dentists do not have structured, consistent patient referral programs. Even a simple referral card handed out at the end of a visit or inserted into patient reminder mailings can be effective.
- Online reviews/ratings
Ratings and review websites like Yelp are one of the best ways to spread the word about your practice, yet fewer than half of dentists and dental practices have pages on Yelp, according to Dentistry IQ. According to a 2015 survey, 80 percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Yelp pages are also highly visible in search engines, so be sure to connect your Yelp page with your website.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of structuring your website’s design, content and links to gain the greatest visibility (highest rankings) when someone searches for a “dentist” on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search sites. The primary factors that drive the rankings are your site’s relevancy, authority and trust, and these are determined by how your pages are optimized with the right keywords, content, and links.
- Social Media Marketing (SMM)
To promote their practices, 80 percent of dentists are using some form of social media, according to survey by the Levin Group Data Center. Practices with two GPs that use online marketing strategies and services have 17.3 percent higher practice revenue than those that don’t, the survey added. Among practices of all sizes, there is a 5-7 percent increase in production per doctor for offices active on social media. Social media marketing is very powerful IF done properly. Whatever platform you choose, be prepared to commit to updating the information regularly—preferably every day.
7. Make it mobile
A recent Pew Research survey revealed that 68 percent of American adults now own a smartphone, up from 35 percent just four years ago. Meanwhile, 45 percent own some form of tablet, up from three percent in 2010. Make sure your website, email and social media messages are mobile-friendly, since 8 in 10 internet users globally visit/use social networks on their mobile devices.
8. Get out into the community
Whether it’s volunteering, sponsoring local sports teams, youth programs and non-profit events, or speaking at local events, engaging with your community increases your credibility and raises your practice’s positive image.
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