Want more new patients, but not sure exactly where to start?
I understand – with so many options available to market your practice, making the “right” decision can be overwhelming if not downright confusing!
With that in mind, I’ve put this post together to at least provide a “base” from which to operate when making marketing decisions and I hope you find it helpful.
To begin, keep in mind that marketing trends change over time (especially what’s working and not – and by “working” I mean what actually gets more new patients in an economically practical manner). What worked 5 or 10 years ago might not be all that effective today. Compounding the confusion is that what worked 10 years ago, and doesn’t work now…. might work again 10 years from now – yeesh! So, yes – marketing can be a fickle friend! If anything, you want to keep your finger on its pulse – regularly!
And with that and the fact that we are now in 2018 in mind, let’s look at what I’ve found to be “Top 5” marketing strategies that are working RIGHT NOW…in 2018.
Something else to mention; we (MGE), are not a website development company, postcard or mailing service; I’m not trying to sell you any kind of marketing product or service. What we do is we teach dentists and their teams how to implement management systems to improve efficiency and profitability and create growth. And obviously a big part of that is having a real plan for marketing your office and getting new patients on a consistent basis. Because we have thousands of clients all over the US and Canada, we stay up to date with the latest dental marketing trends through observation and real-time statistics from our clients.
I should also mention that in order to get the best results and maximize your return-on-investment, I’d recommend that you do the MGE New Patient Workshop. For now, though, what I’ve got here can help you get your pointed in the right direction.
Note that this list isn’t in any particular order and some points may work better than others for your office, but these are what I’ve found to the top five most effective means.
Alright, enough talk – let’s get into it!
1. Get lots of positive online reviews!
Get a lot of positive online reviews, particularly on Google and Yelp. Here’s an interesting stat for you:
An estimated 97% of customers look at online reviews and 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends or family.
It’s just what people do nowadays. If I’m the average consumer, what do I do if I’m looking for a restaurant, furniture store…or a dentist? I go on Google or Google Maps and I search for one. Then I check out the online reviews. In some cases if the overall rating is low – I don’t even bother opening the reviews – no point – other than maybe morbid curiosity. I’m looking for at least a 4.2 rating in most cases. Ideally, you want a 4.2 to 4.7 or 4.8 rating. I personally recommend 4.5 or 4.6 or above.
With a that in mind, it is of marked importance nowadays to have and maintain a good reputation with online reviews.
And there’s another reason why it’s important: When you have a high number of reviews and a good rating, this can affect how close to the top your website is going to be listed on Google and Google Maps and other search engines.
Another interesting fact regarding this is the most commonly searched phrases in Google when someone’s looking for a dentist is “best dentist in (your city).” And when Google is displaying the search results for the “best dentist” in that area, they actually take the online reviews and review rating into account. You’ll see if you search “best dentist in (your area)” you’ll see the ones that are 4.7 stars, 4.8 stars, 4.9 stars or even 5 stars AND the ones that have a lot of reviews. If you have three reviews and 4.9 stars, that’s not as good as someone who has 500 reviews and 4.7 stars.
You probably know another dentist down the street from you who had maybe five online reviews, and you look back about six months or a year later and all of a sudden, they have 500 reviews and they’re on the top of the search listings. How did that happen? How did they go up by 500 reviews? Well, there are a few things specifically that you can do to get more online reviews, which I cover at the MGE New Patient Workshop, the MGE Internet Marketing Seminar, as well as on our online training platform at www.ddssuccess.com; I highly suggest you sign up for one or all of those today.
But the one thing you can take away from this is get lots and lots of positive online reviews and ask your patients to write a review of your practice on Google and Yelp.
2. Have an effective referral program for existing patients
Everyone knows we should ask for referrals, but it falls by the wayside. It’s important to keep up a referral program, because this is always going to be the cheapest form of marketing you do and it’s likely going to get you long-term patients. Patients who are referred by other happy, loyal patients are that much more likely to stay in the practice, trust you and proceed with needed treatment.
So, you and the whole team really need to prioritize referrals.
The way you ask for referrals makes a big difference, and we cover the specifics on how to ask for referrals here at MGE. Also, having an effective plan or program that the whole team is on board with helps to keep it as a priority rather than falling by the wayside. So, you need to make sure you implement it and you ask for referrals the right way.
3. Use direct mail marketing campaigns
We’re taking it back to old school marketing with direct mail. I know, it seems like something we should be doing 15 or 20 years ago, but let me tell you, it can still work! We had a period in the early 2000s when it became all about e-mail marketing. Email marketing was very effective and if you had a big email list you were a millionaire for a little while there. But what happened? Peoples’ inboxes became so flooded, they had seen so many emails, so many online ads, that they became oversaturated. To boot, Gmail and other email services started separating “promotional” mail from your normal inbox which further distanced consumers from email marketing. So, consumers came around and began to notice “hard mail” or “snail mail” again.
Going back to the old-fashioned direct mail, whether its postcards, some sort of a flyer, brochure or even a letter in an envelope, is actually getting picked up and noticed now. I’ve seen a lot of very effective direct mail or postcard marketing campaigns in recent years.
Of course, it can get expensive, so it’s important to be smart about it – it matters how you design the piece you’re sending out, where you’re sending it, how often you’re sending it, how much you’re paying per piece, etc. All that stuff makes a difference and you really need to track the results to make sure you’re not spending too much. But direct mail is still one of the top five ways to market your practice.
4. Online ads – Google Adwords & Facebook Advertising
Google Adwords is another one that can be expensive if it’s done incorrectly, but if you do it right (you have the right settings for your ad campaign and you’re doing it efficiently), it can be very effective because, once again, where are people going to look for a dentist? They’re going to Google. So, you’re going to get your practice right in front of someone when they’re actively looking for a dentist; that’s the best place to be. You just have to make sure you’re cost-efficient with it.
Then there’s Facebook Ads. Now, when I talk about Facebook Ads, I’m not talking about generally being active on social media and posting stuff on Facebook where you use hashtags and get likes or comments or followers. No, I’m talking about specifically paid advertisements using Facebook’s advertising component. You can target exactly who you want to see your ads, how many people you want to see your ads, how many times you want them to see them, what they’re specifically going to see and when they’re going to see it; you can get very targeted with these advertisements and I’ve seen this be just as effective as Google Adwords if it’s done right.
The key here is, with Facebook Ads, for not too much money you can reach 20,000 or 30,000 people in your area immediately surrounding your practice on a regular weekly basis throughout every month and that just has a good effect; people are seeing your ads, clicking them, going to your website and starting to recognize you and your practice.
5. Give your patients a great experience and get them to accept and complete treatment plans
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Well, that’s not really marketing, is it?”
Well, think about this: Happy patients who are actually doing the treatment they need and getting the results you’re capable of giving them are going to bring in their friends and family; they’re going to leave online reviews; they’re going to talk about you, follow you on social media, and generally you’re going to have more word-of-mouth when your patients are happy and they’re doing the treatment they need and getting healthy.
If your patients are coming in and getting a little bit of work here and there, doing only what insurance covers – they’re not going to be as excited about bringing people into your practice or talking about it. That’s just the way it is.
The same goes for the patient experience. You want them to have fantastic customer service, you want them to want to come back to your practice, so you keep these patients and they bring their friends and family in. So that’s very important for making it all work.
If you browse online reviews on Yelp or Google, you’ll notice that people leave reviews on two ends of the spectrum – a wonderful experience that they’re excited about…or a terrible experience they’re angry about. Nobody rushes to their computer to leave a review because they have a “super okay experience.”
One last thing that I didn’t include on the top five, but it is very important for making all those other five work, is having an effective website.
When I say that I don’t mean that it’s necessarily an expensive website or very fancy or beautiful. I mean that it’s designed in such a way that it has the right content on there and that it’s effective at converting the visitor who goes onto the website into someone who’s now picking up the phone and scheduling an appointment.
Having an effective website kind of makes the whole thing work. You don’t want to spend money and effort on all those other things to drive people to a website that doesn’t make them want to pick up the phone; it becomes a waste of money.
So, there you have it, the top five ways to market your dental practice.
As you can see, they can be more effective or less effective depending on how you do them. So, if you really want to be effective with them and get more new patients on a consistent basis, I highly suggest you come to the MGE New Patient Workshop. I’ll be there, and we’ll teach you exactly how to do each of these points in detail, so you can make it work for your practice. We deliver this workshop in California, New York and our Florida office in St. Petersburg. You can find more information at www.newpatients.net or give us a call today at (800) 640-1140. I hope to see you there!