MGE’s weekly webletter, Issue 19.
What Makes Your Practice Special?
By MGE Marketing
Ever heard the song, “You’re Nobody Until Somebody Loves You”? Well, in the exceedingly competitive dental market, you’re nobody until somebody recognizes you. With more than 160,000 dentists in the U.S., even smaller communities have plenty of dentists and I bet there’s one right across the road from you, or even in the same building you’re in.
With similar clinical skills and procedures, most dentists and dental offices are, in the public mind, “all the same.” There’s really nothing more “generic” than a dentist or a doctor!
Yet you see some practices getting tons of business and some that get little to none, even though many of these offices are delivering similar services. So obviously the doctor that gets more business is doing something extra that makes him stand out in the public’s view.
Now, sometimes it’s the “specials” or “offers” that attract new patients. By survey, more than 50% of all internet users searching for a dentist look first for “deals,” so having an attractive initial new patient offer might not hurt. But that’s not what would make you different.
What makes you different in the public’s mind is your personality, the friendliness of your practice, how comfortable the patient feels in your office (and when receiving treatment), caring staff, etc. — all matters that have little to do with your clinical skills or “specials.”
But, you may ask, who will know this difference? The answer: Mainly the patients who know you and who are already coming to you for treatment. So what about the new ones?
Let me help you there with the following steps:
A. First off, do a little survey and ask your existing patients the following questions:
1. What was the main thing that made you decide to choose us for your dental care?
2. Now that you are a patient here, what do you like the most about our practice?
3. Would you refer our practice to your family and friends? If yes, what would you say?
A survey such as this one is extremely helpful and can be done while your patients are waiting for their treatment. A simple sheet of paper with these questions will be sufficient.
B. From these surveys, take the highest scoring answers (for example, 20 out of 30 patients state that the doctor actually listens to them). The highest scoring answer is the most common agreement your patients have in regards to your practice or treatment. This is how they view you and what makes you special in their minds.
C. Next, ask yourself and your staff what makes your office special and how you stand out from other practices (for example, you go the extra mile to make your patients comfortable). Quite often you will see that the answers from you and your staff align with what your patients are saying about your practice.
D. Now, let’s tie these highest scoring answers together and work out how you can SHOW them to your prospective new patients. Just “saying it” will not be enough. For example, if the highest scoring answers were “comfortable, friendly care” you need to find a way to show this in your promotion, your website and your advertisements. Your marketing message and any visuals (colors, pictures, and design) need to show that you provide “comfortable, friendly care.” This is probably the trickiest part of this little exercise, but just let your imagination flow on this.
I know one dentist whose practice was located in a smallish, non-descript building in front of a large strip mall. Apart from a small sign in front of the door and some clutter in the windows, nothing indicated that there was a dental practice in that little building. After doing the above exercise with this dentist, they found the one thing that made them special as a practice: They were a great, fun-loving team! To show this to their prospective new patients, they mounted a 12 foot, bright red toothbrush on the roof of their building. Brilliant! This didn’t only tell the entire town that there was a dentist there, it showed that this team was definitely fun-loving! Local newspapers and TV came out to cover the giant toothbrush and new patients flooded in. So you have to be a bit creative on this but I am sure you’ll manage that.
Don’t be a “generic” dentist or doctor. Use your survey results and show that you are different, and new patients will come in!
MGE’s Marketing Department provides this general dental practice management advice to furnish you with suggestions of actions that have been shown to have potential to help you improve your practice. MGE may not be held liable for adverse actions resulting from your implementation of these suggestions, which are provided only as examples of topics covered by the MGE program.