What must dentists do to make their marketing more effective? The British Dental Journal has reported that when it comes to marketing, many dentists are not co-ordinating their efforts and are unclear about what to do.
The BDJ quoted a 2016 study that revealed that over 89% of dentists have the desire to improve their marketing, but have neither the skills nor the resources to do so.
Two things are crucial here: retaining existing numbers of visitors and finding new patients. At the same time, competition is fierce, with many corporate players entering the market and expanding.
For the independent, commercial practice, therefore, marketing is crucial.
Defining Business Goals
Marketing for dentists means identifying key areas to focus on, such as competition from other practices, and the environment they operate in.
What is the demographic for patients in the area? What are the things that will matter to them when choosing a dentist?
Dentists must consider their products and pricing. They must look at the people they are marketing to, and what forms this marketing might take, in terms of promotion.
They also need to weigh this against costs, and predictable revenue.
For example, investing in new dental chairs is an upfront cost, but it may help market the services the practice offers more effectively through word of mouth recommendation (see below).
How Word of Mouth Marketing Works
The best source of new patients comes from existing patients and what they say about a practice.
Two important things come into play here: the patient experience, and the dentist’s level of communication.
Naturally, if a dental patient has a good experience, this will make it more likely that they will refer the practice on to others. A good experience is about more than the treatment itself. It also includes the surroundings, how staff interact, and how the patient perceives the practice generally.
In line with this, the more clearly the dentist explains treatment options and communicates clearly, the more this works as a form of marketing.
This could be about explaining how implants work, or various forms of cosmetic dental treatment. Good communication can both reassure and inspire patients.
Dentists should help patients visualise the treatments they offer, and explain how state-of-the-art technology will ensure the best results and the most comfortable experience.
Ultimately, word of mouth can turn patients into powerful advocates for the practice.
On the back of this, dentists should consider other channels, such as social media and emails. The key thing is to reach out to patients, to be open and approachable.
Meeting Patient Expectations
What matters most in marketing for dentists is demonstrable success. Being able to apply advanced technology and treatments, so that people can experience the results for themselves, creates a powerful means of attracting new patients.
In this way, the dental surgery itself is a kind of marketing tool.
Dentistry is changing as patients’ expectations change. More and more people in the UK are now opting for cosmetic dental treatments, for instance.
The more dentists can market advanced treatments, and a comfortable, streamlined patient experience, the more competitive they are likely to be.
“Patients will stay with a practice that makes them feel comfortable, but which also meets their expectations. Bolster this confidence with advanced dental equipment that reinforces, and enables, a professional, caring, customer-focused approach.”
Pete Higson, RPA Dental