Dan Brown - Senior Service Consultant MGEWe all know that internet marketing is important.  With that in mind, how easy is it for a potential new patient to find and learn more about your practice online?  If it’s difficult, you know one thing: if they are not finding out about your office – they are finding out about one of your competitors!

This issue is truly something that can “make or break,” the number of new patients you can attract. Especially with today’s consumer behavior.

Today’s Consumer

When buying products or frequenting local businesses, today’s consumer is far different than the consumer of 20 or 30 years ago.

They don’t just walk into a store or call in asking to talk to a representative to get more information.

To give you more insight, we have something we call the “Sales Cycle.” It’s essentially a percentage scale of willingness to “buy,” and starts at 0% and goes to 100%. Zero would be a person who’s maybe “thinking” about purchasing something and 100% would be someone ready to purchase right now.

Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, a person would contact a sales representative somewhere between 8% and 12% on the Sales Cycle, meaning the person would get an idea, for example, to buy a car or get a new TV – we’re talking about a big purchase – and that individual would do a little bit of homework and then they would show up and talk to a representative of the company for the first time somewhere around 8-12% through the Sales Cycle.

(Related: Comparing the Costs of 9 Dental Marketing Strategies)

So, how is that different from today?

Whether it’s buying a new TV, a car or investing in implants, veneers, Invisalign, etc., today’s average consumer is actually around 88 – 92% of the way through the Sales Cycle before they even pick up the phone or visit a store or office!

What does that mean?

Beginner’s Guide: How to Use Social Media for your Dental Practice - The MGE Management Experts BlogEssentially, it means that people nowadays do a significant amount of homework before they call your practice. Their homework includes looking you up online; and would most likely encompass looking through your website or reading your reviews.  This means the majority of consumers are mostly “sold” on a given dental service – or your services and are ready to take action by the time they call. This answers the “shopper” question to a degree. When someone price shops – they are sold on receiving a specific service – but possibly not completely sold on receiving it from your office yet.  But they know enough about your practice to spur a phone call.

And where are all of these callers getting their information from? If a person wants to know about veneers or Invisalign or why their tooth hurts; if a person wants to know “Do I really need 6 crowns or could I get away with some fillings?” or “Which dentist should I see for this?” Where do they look? Yes – of course… online. And if they’re on your site, they need to be able to get answers to their questions, with a couple of qualifiers – 1) they need to get enough information so as to spur a phone call (obviously you can’t diagnose from a website…) and 2) these answers need to be available to them on their time and on their terms.

By having this type of information on your website, you become a trusted source of information.  You’ve answered their questions. The next logical step is a call – you should also encourage them to do so!

(Related: How to Turn Emergency New Patients into Great Long Term Patients)

Having this available is also a great way to educate potential new patients at any time of the day. Take this opportunity to explain why someone might need a crown, or how veneers work, etc.

When is Consumer Doing Their Research?

For the most part: At night.

After they cook dinner, do homework with their kids, clean up, put the kids to bed, and after a long day of work they have maybe an hour at night that’s their “me” time. Unless they are in pain…this is when the majority of people sit down and type “dentist near me” into Google.

And back to my initial point: when they’re doing this, can they easily find you? Can they get acquainted with you and your practice? Can they find out if you offer the services they’re looking for? To make this patient choose your practice – this is the time you’d better have all that information available to them.

Today’s consumer wants to be able to learn all of this information on their own time and on their own terms without having to talk to you or walk into your practice. Their “me” time may be at 11pm or as early as 5am, and you need to make sure this information is available to them at those times. With a properly set up website – this is easy.

(Related: Spice Up Your Website and Attract More New Patients)

How Does Your Practice Measure up?

Do you think you’re able to answer your public’s questions and fulfill their needs and have an online presence that covers answers to their questions? Do you feel you’re totally prepared for that?

As a first step, there are a few things you should do:

  1. Type “dentist near me” or “best dentist in (your town)” into Google and see where you show up. (Note: Google uses your past web history to customize the results you see, so when you search it’ll make your website appear higher than it would for other people. So, I’d recommend searching in “Incognito” or “Private” mode or asking a friend who hasn’t visited your website before to search it for you. We can help you check this as part of a free 10 Point Marketing Analysis)
  2. Check your Google listing, photos and online reviews to see what impression they give of your office.
  3. Browse through your website as if you were a potential patient looking for a dentist. Can you easily find all the information you may be looking for? Can you learn about the services offered and dental conditions you may be experiencing? Can you learn about the doctor and what sets them apart from other dental practices in town? Does the practice look appealing?

This gives you a place to start for improving your online presence – without necessarily needing to spend lots of money on designing a brand-new website or doing online ads.

And if you weren’t happy what you saw while doing those three steps above, but aren’t sure how to improve things, that’s why we’re here! Our MGE New Patient Workshop is two whole days and walks you and your staff through key principles about online and offline marketing in order to get more new patients. The best part is, we update this workshop often to stay up-to-date with current marketing techniques, so you’ll always have the most current information. The MGE New Patient Workshop is currently offered in 9 locations – to view upcoming dates and locations, visit www.newpatients.net. Or fill out the form below to receive more information.

I hope these tips help! If you have any questions at all, email me directly at DanB@mgeonline.com or call us at (800) 640-1140.

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