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    Why a marketing strategy is crucial for your practice

    Developing an effective marketing strategy can lead to patient acquisition and practice growth.

     

    Describe one marketing strategy that you have used in the past that simply did not work. Can you provide details of how long you tried it for, how much it cost, which companies you used and how many patients you got from it?

    In our market, almost anything will work if you are willing to devote the time and resources to it. Television ads will work with massive time and expense, but most practices cannot afford this modality. For a period of time before the real dawn of internet marketing and reviews-based referrals, we did newspaper inserts in the Sunday newspaper section with the other flyers of retail outlets. Initially, this was a great way to target specific areas, neighborhoods and communities. Lots of people saw our quality designed marketing pieces. It attracted many patients looking for a new dental home or a specific type of treatment. It was cost-effective and easy to reuse. With time, the message got stale and most importantly, local dentists began completely copying the same idea. At one point, eight to 10 different practices were placing inserts into the newspaper. For obvious reasons, we stopped.

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    What was the lesson that you learned from this marketing attempt as far as the changing landscape goes?

    I learned that what works at one point in time will not always work at another. Marketing strategies can be different year to year depending on how the world is changing. Be aware that it typically takes months for the message to be heard. I tell dentists around the country that even with the right efforts in the right places, it can take several months to see dividends. What this means is be patient! Patience is difficult in a society that is accustomed to instantaneous results. Unfortunately, most don't have the ability to wait. Patience is necessary for this to work. It also means that after six months if you're not seeing results, it might be time to refocus on another strategy.

    What has been your most successful marketing strategy?

    Without question, the most successful way of attracting patients (at least for the last several years) has been the internet, and more specifically online reviews. Focusing on Google Reviews, and to a lesser extent Yelp, Healthgrades and Facebook reviews, has had tremendous benefits for our practice. Having a deep understanding of the way the review process happens, how to put your practice on the internet for others to see, and most importantly have the voice of your existing customers tell others about your office, services and customer relationships has been a remarkable tool for generating leads for the last five to seven years. With time, the review strategy has helped us acquire an average of 65 to 80 new patients a month without a huge marketing budget.

    Running targeted Facebook ads at specific times to specific demographics has also helped attract the type of patients we want in our practice.

    What advice would you give a dentist, as far as marketing goes, who is just starting out in dental practice ownership?

    My advice would be to focus on the type of dentistry you want to practice. Take enough CE courses to become adept at that level of dentistry, then fabricate a marketing strategy designed to attract those types of patients to your office. Remember that not everyone is a good patient for your practice.

    I would leverage technology to do a ton of the heavy lifting for you — outsourcing, utilizing online companies to develop marketing campaigns, icon design, social media awareness, SEO, SEM, etc. A truly adept company to help with on-page and off-page internet searches will be critical.

    Adam Smith
    Adam Smith got his start in the dental industry working for a company called Dental Intel. He was their first data analyst and worked ...

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