(This article is an 8-minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU’LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. The three-step process to identify and address new patients
2. What else to do if your practice is brand new
3. The proper way to use social media to draw patients in
Finding out how to attract new patients to your dental practice involves three steps:
Many dentists believe the way to get more patients into the practice is to get their message out as widely as possible. If they advertise to a large population, a small percentage of those people will book an appointment.
But it’s difficult to work out how large a population you have to get to. The response rate for advertising anywhere can be as low as one or two per cent. If you live in a big city, that might be okay. But if you’re in a regional centre, no matter how much you pay, you may only be reaching a limited group.
Before you plan or book anything, take a drive to all the other dental practices in your area. You don’t have to go inside. Just have a look at how they’re promoting themselves, and who is sitting in the waiting room. Just swing by a couple of times at different times of the day.
I bet a fair few of them are called “family dental centre”. Or they have Invisalign or Zoom Whitening ads out the front. If you can see into the waiting room, who is sitting there? Are there mums with young kids? Old folk? Business people?
None of them will be servicing everyone. There will always be groups around who aren’t represented there. Those groups are a prime target market.
You don’t have to worry about changing your practice if you don’t want to. You just have to target your marketing. At this stage, it also doesn’t matter whether you’re a new practice or an established one. You have to think about who isn’t being addressed with marketing right now, and what you can offer them.
Were the patients in the other clinics young families? Fine, let’s talk about what you offer older patients. Plan to produce some content on dentures, crowns and bridges, short-term orthodontics specifically for older patients, and so on.
Or were the patients in the waiting rooms retirees? Great, plan some content around services for young women.
Your services can be the same as anyone else’s. It’s the way you’re targeting a group that’s important. I know and you know that whitening is for everyone. But for the purposes of your marketing, talk about whitening for a specific group.
If you’re starting up from scratch, you have the extra pressure of finding lots of patients, fast. You should still follow those steps I’ve outlined above. But you should also invest in a bit of traditional advertising, just to get some traffic through the door. Don’t expect miracles from it—advertising isn’t as easy as it used to be.
Still, the quickest and easiest way to drum up foot traffic is to buy some Facebook ads, and maybe some flyers, offering either a discount coupon or emergency services.
The quality of patients you get from these ads will not be great. But at least you can get them through the door.
Just keep in mind that for this group of patients, the main reason they are visiting is price or desperation. They are two difficult emotions to build a loyal patient base on.
To attract and build a loyal patient base, you need people to know, like and trust you. You need to answer their questions before they come to you. The easiest and quickest way to do that is with a blog on your website.
If you can’t get a blog put onto your website because you don’t know how, Google “how to set up a free WordPress blog”. It’s not an ideal solution from an SEO point of view, but at least you will have something.
Fill the blog with content targeted at those people who aren’t being serviced by the other practices around town. So not just on dental implants, but articles on dental implants for older patients. If you want some more ideas on what to write about, check out this post on Where to get content for your dental blogs.
By the way, don’t write about your CEREC machine. No-one cares.
Once you have some content, the next step is getting the word out. An email newsletter to existing patients is easy for growing practices. New practices might want to put a link to new blog posts on their Facebook page.
If you’re sending out an email newsletter, keep your email list separate from your patient database. That way, patients can still unsubscribe from the newsletter if they want to. But they'll remain contactable by you.
If you’re putting a link to your new posts onto your Facebook page, it’s a good idea to pay $5 to boost the post. Just because someone has liked your page doesn’t mean they will see the post in their news feeds. Making you pay to reach people is Facebook’s business model. And it’s not a lot to pay to get some great results.
On this other post, read about what happened when I boosted a Facebook post to get an idea of what to expect.
By following these steps, you’ll get to the starting line with your marketing. There are lots of other ideas you can use to market your practice. I’ve written about them in this post on local dental marketing ideas that work. But get the basics down first before you start playing around.
In summary, that means identifying who isn’t being addressed by your competitors. Then think about what you can say to those people. Then start talking to them.