You may notice your practice is running along smoothly for the past two or maybe five years. Things can just hum along feeling very nice for quite some time. Perhaps you have just come back from a CE course or hired a new consultant. You just found out that what you thought was the number of active patients in your practice was not a true number. If you consider yourself a leader and like to stay on the leading end than periodically you will call in a dental expert or consultant to look at your business of dentistry in a different light.
Last week I wrote about 5 tips to have patients enter through your front door and shared 5 internal marketing tips. This week I will share some external marketing tips.
There may be times in the life of your dental practice where some attrition will occur. What can cause this type of situation to occur? Maybe some reasons are because dentistry changes rapidly and it is difficult to constantly keep up to date. It takes a lot of effort to do this alone. I can give you a long list of reasons why this can happen. The fact is – it happens to the best of us!
The outlook you can take is a positive one. Be open to change and open to taking a look in the mirror at your dental business. It may be time and very important to now re-focus your attention. Now is the time to work on your dental business not just in it. You will need to reach out to patients – new and old- in a different manner. You will now need to find out how to reach patient’s specific needs, wants and desires. You will need to find out who wants and can afford the type of dentistry you enjoy providing people in your community.
Now we will continue the list we started last week:
Step 6: Paid Media Advertising
The local newspapers and magazines that feature the city where you live offer various types of print and even electronic information about businesses in the area where your dental office is located. There are many avenues that will help focus the public attention on dentistry in general and on your practice in particular. Become familiar with the various areas of media in the area of your dental office.
The subjects you write about must be of interest to people, not just an advertisement for your practice. Examples of captions that may catch the eye are “Dentist Says Needle and Drill Nearly Obsolete”. This is a great headline if you want to talk about air abrasion or use a laser. “Cosmetic Dentistry Demand Running High” is good if you want to talk about the increased interest in cosmetic dentistry. Be creative and find something that fits your personality and business brand.
Whenever the national media focuses on dentistry, take advantage of it on a local level. Write something about the focus for the local publications in your area. If the FDA recently approved the use of lasers for more than just curing composites you can write about how you can accommodate patients who desire this type of treatment. Maybe write something to educate the general public about the benefits of laser treatment. If you have a laser, this exposure affords you an opportunity to call attention to your practice. A nice headline might be “Tampa Dentist Goes High-Tech with Newly Approved Laser”.
If you don’t have a laser, you can still take advantage of the media exposure by promoting what you do have and relating it to what you have that may be important to others in your community. Maybe you can use this line “Star Wars Era Comes to Dentistry”. This article you have written or personally write can talk about the laser and continue to mention advances such as new composites, air abrasion, intraoral cameras, multimedia presentations, or computer smile design. These are all ways people will show interest in what you have to offer them. You will never know until you open the door.
Writing for the local media can create very positive effects for dentistry and for your practice. This is not one of the more cost effective ways to increase your name and recognition but it is a way to really make something look good. Last week I wrote about more cost effective ways to market your practice utilizing social media.
Step 7: eNewsletters
Develop a newsletter because there are pieces of information about dentistry that can easily be added to your dental office newsletter. This is a newsletter that can in the 21st century be sent electronically. There is no longer a need to spend money on postage. If you still want to send mailings through snail mail than I recommend that you are cost effective with this and mail it along with a statement. I also recommend that if you can do this electronically post it on the internet as many places as possible. Twitter, Facebook Fan Page and even Linked in can be great places to post these newsletters and when done they can attract a lot of positive attention to who you are as a dental office.
Tip 8: Offer Your Professional Knowledge
Give and get help from people in related fields by establishing a cross-referral arrangement with a cosmetic surgeon, chiropractor, upscale spa-type salon, athletic club, or talent agency will help you connect with the type of patients you are seeking. Most of these places will be using a software like SalonTouch Studio which facilitates these processes tremendously. Some athletic clubs will allow a professional to have a table and actually meet the clients to educate the club members about their services and leave business cards and brochures with the people who come to the athletic club. My local athletic club has a special going for the members when they seek tooth whitening procedures at the dental office near our gym.
Establishing these types of relationships inevitably requires that you and your alliance partner become friends. You each need to have a genuine interest in helping the other.
Step 9: Educate Others Unrelated to Your Profession
Be available to educate others when your office is located near other types of businesses, meet the people that work there and offer your services. Your office is located at an area convenient to their place of employment. This means less time off work depending upon what type of hours your office is open. Some offices during this depressed economic climate now have their extended hours so patients don’t miss work. Now is the time to make a dental visit convenient for patients. The special times you have opened for your patients convenience is a point to make whenever you are sending a letter, invitation to an open house you may hold. If you have something printed have one of your team members deliver it personally. Let everyone know about the special hours and services you have arranged for their needs, wants and request.
If you know there is a 10k or marathon in your neighborhood offer to be a sponsor and have a booth to spread the good word about your services. Have a contest or raffle where people can enter to win the contest. The benefit is that you educate potential patients about your dental practice and they receive a chance to win a whitening session or some service in your office. You are giving them the 411 necessary to become a loyal patient.
Become involved in the local schools and/or PTA. Offer educational programs in your community. Give a gift to a child who will write a special paper about dentistry. Maybe it’s not about dentistry but be creative with something a child can do and be rewarded for with a gift from your office. This is something important to write about and have published in the local newspaper, etc. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Think of something creative to do in your community to let everyone know what a great dental office you have. Celebrate what you do for patients old and young!
It’s all about the connections in your community and people noticing a special group of kind and caring group of people. Attract the types of patients who will be life lasting to your dental business.
Step 10: Stay Current
Stay current because people want to know that their health care professional is up to date and on the leading edge. Services such as laser treatment, whitening, antimicrobials, quality, and natural home-care products are a few of the important services you need to be open to offering your patients.
Staying current also means that you attend special advanced training, continuing education and take advantage of the tools available to be on the leading edge and on top of what you do professionally. Not only do you want to be on top with clinical skills but your management skills as well. There are many ways you can easily stay on top of the ever changing world of dentistry. It doesn’t mean that you need to spend a lot of money to travel somewhere but there are now courses available via your home computer: home study courses, live and on-demand webinars. Take advantage of these tools which are available now in our high tech lifestyle.
Of course, these ten tips are not a complete list of ways you can attract the type of patient you enjoy treating. These are only a few of the effective, relatively inexpensive ways to keep patients coming through you front door. Keep the back door closed and locked at all times. Keep the old and bring in the new. One is silver and the other is gold. I learned this motto in Girl Scouts and it holds true in our great profession of dentistry
Debbie Seidel-Bittke and all the team at Dental Practice Solutions