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Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is known as a top dental consultant by Dentistry Today.

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Marketing Your Dental Practice During The Holidays

By: Debbie

December 7, 2009

After Shopping on Black Friday, I Couldn’t resist thinking about what we can do in our dental practice to boost marketing during this holiday season.

There are just days left in the holiday shopping season, and that means your marketing efforts need to be a lot more intense. The new rules for the changed economy say no business owner should have to unload a huge chunk of their earnings into a holiday season marketing program, even though they might have spent this way in the old days … and even if their businesses lean a lot on this time of year. So which low-cost marketing strategies yield the best results?

Below are some strategies that can be recession-friendly and creative ways to market your dental practice as well during these next few weeks of the holiday season:

Togetherness in the “Social Light” of Media. Utilizing Facebook and Twitter will not bring new patients to your practice immediately but not utilizing these marketing tools will be a definite way to “turn off” the new patient light bulb. Set up a Facebook Fan Page and make it personal by adding faces of the people who are related to the practice. (i.e., your important team members) Show off services you provide that add profitability and set your dental business apart from others. Also be sure to add any special promotions you may have going on for the holidays or end of the year. If you plan to have a holiday open house; this is a good place to let others know about it. One creative idea is one that I found for The Gap. They have set up a site at Cheer Factory.com. When customers go to this website they can create their own holiday cheers to share on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It’s like a free, extended sales force. If you are concerned about the time involved to set this up, know this: Most of these applications, promotions and widgets take only a few minutes to set up.

Ask your patients what’s on their holiday wish list through surveys … and give yourself the gift of testimonials from satisfied patients. As a savvy business owner survey your patients and even if you can, your prospective patients. This is something you want to do several times a year to gauge your patient needs. The holidays provide a chance for you to check in with your patient base and even potential patients by sending out holiday messages on your Fan Page and/or add a link to a survey along with your holiday message on your Twitter page as well. Take advantage of this nice opportunity (a survey) when sending out your holiday greeting. Perhaps you will send it out following your holiday greeting.This will allow you to find out what is necessary to build your future marketing campaigns. It allows you to speak to the real needs of your patients. Small business associations stress that any marketing campaign will have more impact if you have a deep understanding of your customers. (Your patients) Surveys can reveal any gaps in your services and provide leads on some useful case studies and testimonials for the New Year.

During the survey process guide your patients with specific questions. You may want to draft suggested testimonials and e-mail them to your patients. By now you should be utilizing email to send most of your patient information. This is a great money saving tool as you can e-mail this testimony suggestion to your patients for review. Offer a special holiday discount or giveaway to those who return the survey promptly.

Create a “12 days of different products and services” promotion. Last year, SmallBizTrends recommended this clever idea: Holiday-themed marketing strategies, such as a “12 Days of …” campaign during which you put a different product or service on sale for twelve days during the holidays or every week during the holidays. This strategy can be an excellent way to build new business or keep your current patient and keep them happy! According to Ivan Taylor of SmallBizTrends.com, a lot of your customers probably aren’t aware of all the products and services you offer, so this type of campaign can help raise awareness about lesser-known items on your company’s menu and get more revenue. Maybe offer a gift certificate for whitening procedures. The sky is the limit with these ideas!

Emphasize family in your marketing campaigns. Holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah especially – are often about family. Stressing this in all your holiday marketing campaigns can help attract high-quality patients. Jeff Wuorio of the Microsoft Small Business Center acknowledges that family is the ultimate common ground of holidays because they represent a time for families to gather, and that smart business owners will keep this in mind when thinking about special holiday marketing and sales programs.

Most importantly, this year and every year, make a list. Check it twice and thrice. A well thought-out plan will be the best strategy to get just what you wished for.