Submitted by allison on Wed, 12/21/2016 - 13:55

Exploring marketing strategies for your dental practice

In November, we shared the importance of differentiating your dental practice in a saturated market. The next step? Internal marketing activities to retain existing patients and external marketing efforts to attract new patients.

Internal Marketing

Let’s start with internal marketing for two reasons:

  1. You’ve already invested in attracting this patient. And since it costs more to attract new patients than retain existing patients, how do you let them know how much you value their business? Find ways to provide them with information that is useful, and relevant to them. As an expert in oral health, you can provide just the right amount of information for them to make informed decisions and feel confident they are making appropriate oral health choices for themselves and their families. Your entire team can reinforce this message at every patient touchpoint.
  2. The corollary is that if the attrition rate for your existing patients decreases, you don’t need to spend as much marketing to attract new clients.

A little research goes a long way in understanding how you can better service your clients through reminders, ways to connect both online and offline, and increase the trust your patients have in you and your practice. Happy patients refer an average of 1.6 new patients to their dentist.

External Marketing

One thing every practice has in common is the need to refill patient capacity to make up for attrition. Think about which market(s) would best suit your practice – families, elderly, professionals, busy parents or a certain geography? Does your staff have second language skills that would appeal to specific cultural groups? These are important considerations in identifying your target market. Once you have clarity on the target market, do some research to understand their online and offline behaviours. How can you best reach them and provide them something of value to get their interest?

Offline Online
Direct mail Website
Word of mouth Search engine results
Advertising and sponsorship Social media channels
Patient communications Earned media backlink strategy
News and events Advertising

Once you understand the value of marketing, how do you determine a budget, and then allocate it across all of these options?

The 2016 survey on smartphone adoption and behaviour conducted by Catalyst Canada, shows 76% of Canadians own a smartphone. A study by Insights West shows that almost three out of four Canadians use social media at least once per week. There is no denying the online opportunity is great; it can also be a more cost effective solution for testing new markets and ideas.

A website is table-stakes these days. Almost 85% of consumers visit a website before making a purchasing decision. If you are going to invest in a website, make sure it will perform for you by providing relevant data your clients are looking for, differentiates your practice, builds trust with your target market(s), and makes it easy for them to engage with you at each step of the decision making process.

With a strong website in place, all of the other marketing options can be evaluated and tested to see how they perform using analytics tools, so you can do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t. What works for one practice, is not necessarily going to work for others.

Look for more information on how to measure the performance of your marketing spend along with some digital strategy tips in January.