Even if your dental practice’s employees perform marketing tasks every day, it’s possible you don’t have a true strategy. Like many local businesses, what you may have is an arsenal of marketing tactics.
What may be missing is a significant impact on your bottom line. It’s frustrating when your marketing spend fails to bring in enough return on your investment. This blog offers a solution for unifying your marketing tactics under one powerful messaging theme.
It’s not the power of the tactics in your arsenal. It’s the ammunition that counts.
Dental practices have a multitude of options for driving patients through their door. Potential channels include social media, local PR, Google My Business, email marketing, digital ads, print advertising, direct mail, and search engine optimization.
Some of these channels can be very expensive, but social media is a great way to share content organically (with no promotional budget). Visual content can be very engaging on social media, and dentistry is a great industry for generating original images. Ideas for visual content include patient before-and-after photos, as well as photos of community events or your practice.
And don’t forget the one-to-one tactics. Ask your existing patients to provide you with online reviews or referrals for new patients. Patients who are happy with their dental provider are also happy to help their provider grow.
All these tactics hold promise. But they also hold the potential for falling flat. If you’ve already tried them, you may have your doubts about whether these tactics have brought in any new patients. In this situation, it’s tempting for practices to abandon certain marketing channels altogether. The result, however, is a missed opportunity to meet your audience where they are.
It’s no wonder that more than 80% of dental practices use social media for communications and marketing, according to the Dental Economics–Levin Group Annual Practice survey. The survey’s 2019 results show that Facebook continues to dominate social media marketing for dentistry, with 75% practices using this medium. But the survey also shows missed opportunities. Although Instagram is rising in popularity, far less than half of practices are using this highly visual channel. And only 24% of practices are blogging, a tried-and-true tactic for content marketing and SEO.
Dental businesses could be posting highly creative dental ads on these platforms. The problem isn’t that these other platforms don’t work—it’s that most practices are unsure of what to say that will be relevant and valuable to patients.
Don’t serve communication stew. Serve one flavor of food for thought.
Without a strategy to unify your many marketing tactics, you run the risk of disseminating a hodgepodge of correspondence. And if your marketing tactics haven’t brought in patients, this lack of strategy explains why. It’s also why the reputation of some of the best dental practices in your area may not be reflected in search engine results.
Fortunately, there’s a solution. It lies in an overarching marketing strategy.
Tactics are often confused with actual dental marketing strategies. But tactics and strategy are two different things. Having a strategy means deliberately deploying tactics in the pursuit of a goal. Some dentists have found that a highly effective goal for marketing is communicating a singular theme, belief or value.
Ask yourself one simple question:
“Why am I in this business (other than to generate revenue)?”
As an example, you may answer that you’re driven by a desire to understand patients better. Well, there you go! Patient understanding is a strategy anchor that can work. The key to executing on this strategy is to ask yourself another simple question. And this is a question you should ask every time you perform a marketing task. Here’s how that would work.
Let’s say the person who handles your social media is about to spend a chunk of their day creating new content for Facebook or Instagram. Before they start, pose the question:
“Is what you are about to publish going to be built on, or at least reference, our theme of patient understanding?”
If the answer is no, this gives your social media manager the opportunity to put the task on hold and do something else, while rethinking their approach. Achieving efficiency is key to growing a dental practice, and this exercise keeps your marketing staff from wasting time. But most importantly, prefacing every marketing task with this question will give your audience a reason to care about what you have to say.
In the example of patient understanding, you are aligning your dental practice marketing plan with the core value of understanding your patients, a value that also helps your operations staff improve the patient experience. Having this strategy in place will ensure that every time you click “send” or “publish,” your content will be couched within this bigger message and more meaningful value proposition.
The idea is to establish a marketing culture, like the broader culture that your organization already has. Think of it as a culture within a culture.
According to Arnaldo Lopez, DDS, communicating your philosophy as a way to create new patient growth “works like magic.” And this is coming from someone who built a successful practice from scratch in a short period of time. In only his third year, Lopez saw 117 new patients in just one month.
Initially, Lopez devoted 15% of his revenue to marketing, with most of that budget going to direct mail. He combined these tactics with organic efforts on Instagram and Google reviews. And he built all these tactics around his dental practice philosophy.
You’re in the business of providing care—you probably stand for something. Aligning your marketing tasks around that core theme is a critical communication skill. It’s the key component to dental reputation management, and it’s also an essential way to reach millennial patients who increasingly expect a more human dentistry experience. They want to see you first as a person who listens, and second as a dental provider.
Generate the ROI you want. Leave the frustration and headaches behind.
So, the next time someone asks you what your dental marketing strategy is, you’ll have a real answer:
“Our marketing strategy is to understand our patients on a deep level. All our marketing activities are anchored in this theme. And we use many tactics, including social media and e-mail marketing, to get us there.”
Patient understanding is just one example of a marketing theme. There are many other possibilities.
Without a marketing strategy, it’s likely that you’ll waste time and resources on short-term, spontaneous marketing efforts that don’t bring in new patients. But with a strategy in hand, you’re more likely to see the return on investment that motivated you to market your dental practice in the first place.
It’s important to eliminate as much guesswork as possible when it comes to generating ROI for your practice. Take a cue from Calibrater’s advanced ROI Calculator. In just a couple of clicks, see how you should be evaluating any new marketing tactics and tools.
The machine learning and smart feedback system that Calibrater Health™ provides will net you returns, immediately. Put simply, the product pays for itself, many times over!