When it comes to dental practice marketing, there are about as many strategies as there are dental practices. But regardless of the strategies you employ, there are basic principles that underlie any successful effort in marketing dental practices.
Have you ever heard of the Rule of Seven? It’s practically as old as the concept of marketing, and it has proven timeless. The idea is that a potential customer must be exposed to the message of your product or service seven times before they will be ready to take action. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every single person, but it can be helpful to think of your marketing approach through this lens.
Whether you want to use this to advertise a new patient special, an exciting new procedure, or your brand-new dental membership plan, we’re going to cover the seven points of contact your practice should attend to if you want to inspire action in your patients.
#1 Website and Social Media
There is a reason everyone in marketing and advertising seems obsessed with the digital sphere nowadays. It is truly the first line of communication to potential customers. Before a new patient calls to book an appointment, they are going to browse your website and social media pages. Existing patients likely do this from time to time as well. And what they see while they’re there has a massive impact on their decisions.
According to marketing software leader HubSpot, “Research shows websites influence 97% of clients’ purchasing decisions.”
That is no small number … but how do you ensure the digital experience of your brand shifts the tide in the way you want? A great place to start would be our 5 Tips for Your Dental Practice’s Social Media.
When it comes to your website, you want to make sure things are pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate. But today we’re focusing on the seven touchpoints that make a sale, so don’t forget to think about your website and social media pages as advertisement opportunities. Include a banner or home page graphic on your site that showcases the offering you most want to highlight at the moment, and put that in your bio on social media, too. Also, never forget about the power of consistently posting on your website’s blog or social media feeds. Those are perfect places to announce a dental membership plan or special discount.
#2 Text Messaging and Emails
What goes hand in hand with your website and social media presence? Text messaging and email of course! These are two avenues that can bring about major improvements to multiple parts of your practice. They can make things more efficient, by helping you remind patients of appointments and thus, prevent last-minute cancellations. But they can also be some of the best marketing options you have.
According to Campaign Monitor, “Email marketing has an ROI of 4,400%.”
Yes, really! And marketing through text messaging is highly impactful too. Why? Because you’re meeting your audience where they already are, in the midst of their busy lives! Sure, your website and social media are super accessible, and that’s why they’re important, buuut they still have to be visited by your audience. When you send a text or email, you take the need for action on the patient’s part out of the equation. It’s good news for everyone!
Plus, just like social media or blog posts, texts and emails are easy and cheap to produce. Whereas you used to have to send a brochure to the printer every time you wanted to outline a new product or service, now you can share the details of your dental membership plan one day and your new patient special the next, pretty much for free.
#3 The Waiting Room and Front Desk
Marketing shouldn’t stop once a patient has booked an appointment and walked through your doors. In the waiting room and on the front desk, you have ample opportunity to present and promote. Posters are a great way to do this, but you could also leave brochures alongside magazines and have small desktop signage at the front where patients will sign in. Think of something like “Don’t have insurance coverage? Don’t worry! Ask us about our dental membership plans.”
You could also instruct your front desk staff to specifically hand out pamphlets on a new procedure or your dental membership plan when they check patients in.
A dental practice's hygienists are one of its greatest resources, and this is true in the realm of marketing dental practices, too! After the waiting room, your next opportunity to work on the sale happens verbally, with the hygienists. While they might initially think this makes them salespeople, it doesn’t have to feel forced or “salesy” at all.
Here’s an example of how organic it can feel:
Hygienist: “Hey [patient name], it’s so good to see you! I think it has been a while.”
Patient: “Yea, I’m sure you aren’t going to be pleased with the state of my teeth, but I just felt like I couldn’t manage an appointment for the past few months with all of the holiday expenses and whatnot.”
Hygienist: “Oh, I completely understand that! It’s so difficult. My two kids seemingly had a whole store on their lists this year! You should grab a pamphlet on our dental membership plans on your way out; they’re a life saver for me around these ‘expensive’ times of the year."
This sort of comment could also be woven into a conversation where they complain about their insurance premium and copays, etc. There are many ways to naturally weave a pitch into a conversation—that’s a secret the best salespeople know and anyone can apply.
Up next, you! But this point of contact is definitely one you want to toe the line on. Just like your hygienists, but even more so with you, the dentist, you don’t want to seem like you’re pushing too hard. After all, the patient has come to you to attend to their oral health. They want to feel that you have their best interests at heart, and many of us don’t feel that way about someone giving a sales pitch. It just is what it is!
That doesn’t mean that you have to forgo mentioning a promotion altogether. As we discussed before, just try to make it feel organic. Let’s say they ask how much it would be to have a particular restorative procedure done. That is a perfectly appropriate time to mention that if they aren’t happy with how much their insurance will cover, your in-house dental membership plan does include a discount on restorative procedures and could pair well with financing for it.
#6 Checkout and Take-Home Bag
Your patient has heard about what you’re advertising a few times now, but depending on the nature of the promotion, checkout time could be the most impactful moment to reiterate it. When people’s mind is on money, they are more likely to make decisions that might help them save some of it.
Consider having a little desk sign on the checkout counter, brochures about any more permanent promotions (like Membership Plans or financing), and don’t forget about those take-home bags! They offer a more passive way of advertising for marketing dental practices. Along with that floss, toothbrush, and lip balm, slip a brochure or promotional card into the bag.
#7 Direct Mail and Billboards
Now that you’ve got a new (or once again returning) patient who has experienced a pleasant visit, you want to keep them looped in on your offerings. Blog posts, social media, texts, and emails all do this, but so do snail mail and billboards. Yes, billboards. They really still make a difference in marketing dental practices!
A study by Arbitron concluded this: “71 percent of Americans ‘often look at the messages on roadside billboards’ and a majority of them learn about events or restaurants they later patronize that way.”
The same could certainly be applied to your dental practice. The other great thing about billboards and direct mailers is that they present opportunities to share with others in daily life. Imagine one of your patients is in the car with a friend, and they had previously discussed your patient referring the friend to you for her children’s dentistry. When they drive by your billboard, your patients has the chance to say, “Oh yea, look, that’s the dentist I mentioned!” And now the friend has your logo or face in their memory, making their subsequent online search easier!
We’ve outlined a series of ways to fold your marketing goals into the daily life of your dental practice, but it all comes back to the rule you must remember: Expose your potential customer to your product or service at least seven times. When you do, we think you’ll find yourself making sales that feel effortless. And that is key to maintaining healthy dental practice revenue, especially in times when you’re dealing with increased supply costs, staffing challenges, and more.
The Dental Practice’s 7 Points of Contact:
- Website and Social Media
- Text Messaging and Emails
- The Waiting Room and Front Desk
- Checkout and Take-Home Bag
- Direct Mail and Billboards
Bring your message to each of those seven places and make your practice stronger.