Entrepreneur and marketing guru Seth Godin has a saying: “marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” It’s a bold statement, and one that should inspire practice owners looking to expand their patient base in today’s highly competitive market. With the dental practice market growing by leaps and bounds in Canada, practice owners need to develop and embrace marketing strategies that will help educate and develop patient loyalty and ensure growth. One sure way to do that is to present your story—not just what you do—but also who you are, what drives you and what makes you different.
Who Can Help You?
As the dental market expands, so does the pool of companies fighting for your business. These businesses, from marketing specialists, to creative agencies, and production houses, will be knocking on your door. They’ll be keen for your business. Some will tell you they can help you grow your business the same way they have with the new restaurant down the street. But you’re not a restaurant, hence it is vital you align yourself with the right marketing partner that understands your industry and target audience.
Know the Business
Practice marketing shouldn’t be overwhelming, or even enormously expensive. But practice marketing is a specialty. Working with a marketing agency that understands the dental world and the key advertising rules that you need to obey, is an absolute must. It is their job to grow your brand and business while making sure you don’t overstep your bounds and get into any trouble with the college.
Telling Your Story
It also saves time and dollars to work with a professional whose level of care matches yours. One thing well-managed marketing plan does is tell your story in a polished manner. You want to be the practice that patients seek out because they want your services, expertise, AND your ability to make a connection. Making a connection will help you understand your patients’ immediate needs as well as their short and long-term wants. This will help you maintain your existing patient base and grow it for the future.
A Winning Plan
There is no magic formula for effective marketing, but it does start with a strategic plan. So, what does this plan look like? It begins with your existing patient file—and ensuring that your patients are happy with the service and patient experience they are receiving. Ideally, you’ll also have a clear vision of the new patients you are looking to attract to your practice, as well the areas of dentistry you want to focus on. It helps to be involved and aware of your local community and who lives around you. Your marketing partner should also know about what marketing you have done in the past and what has and hasn’t worked for you. They’ll also want to know what you’re doing right now to connect internally and externally with your target audience.
Once your marketing partner has all the information, they can analyze the data and put together a plan with a tracking method.
What’s It Going to Cost Me?
There are some fundamental aspects of marketing that you should not “bargain shop” for, such as your brand (the most important thing you’ll do), and website. But there are also a number of very affordable ways (some of them unconventional) to grow your business. Consider just a few of these patient retention and growth marketing opportunities:
• Internal marketing – a quarterly office e-newsletter to keep patients informed of new services, technology, or practice news; patient appreciation events, such as hosting a family skating event (ask patients to invite their family and friends). Boosting loyalty can pay off in patient retention as well as referrals.
• External marketing – connect with like-minded businesses in your immediate area and explore joint marketing avenues; cross promotion; consider local school oral health presentations. The list is endless, and a practice marketing agency can help you identify an avenue that fits with your practice and your personality.
You Have Options
The bottom line here is that you have options. The trick is, as the old saying goes not to be “penny wise and pound foolish”. Some dental health professionals worry about the expense of marketing— they believe that the reward often does match the investment. That could be the case if you are not working with a party that understands the dental landscape, your target audience, or is not invested in your overall success. Partnering with the right marketing agency is important to creating a winning plan with a tracking system to measure your results. Your marketing plan should help you tell your story and achieve your desired results, while allowing you to focus on what you do best — dentistry.