But if you’re like most dentists attempting to market cosmetic dentistry, you’ve been more than a little disappointed that people in your community aren’t knocking your doors down to come in for clear aligners or smile makeovers.
With that in mind, this article is about how to drum up more interest in your cosmetic services as well as how to get these cases accepted. We’re going to focus on proven, effective actions that don’t break the bank.
Market cosmetic services most heavily to your EXISTING patient base
Many dentists try to target new patients for cosmetic services. We think, “Well, I’m not doing much cosmetic work with my existing patients, so there must be some hidden swath of the population that are aching to get cosmetic work done and I just need to bring them into my practice!”
- From a marketing perspective, it’s difficult to isolate people that only want cosmetic dentistry. You can’t buy a list of people in your community that “have chipped or stained teeth and have plenty of disposable income for it.” Whereas everybody needs “bread-and-butter,” general dentistry.
- It’s expensive to market cosmetic services to everybody just to attract that subgroup of patients that are actively seeking these services. I’ve just found it very rare to get good return-on-investment when you’re spending a lot of money to market only cosmetic services.
- Much of the population has the (false) idea that “cosmetic dentists” are very expensive and don’t do general dentistry. So, if you double-down and market too aggressively as a cosmetic dentist, you may unintentionally turn off some potential new patients.
Now, I make these points for general dentists whose foundation is “bread-and-butter,” general dentistry that simply want more cosmetic cases. If you’ve built your practice as a cosmetic dentist, it’s a bit of a different story.
So, for most practices, I find that it’s much easier, and more productive, to find the majority of cosmetic cases within your existing patient base.
(Related: Internal Marketing Must-Do’s)
Now, I’m not saying “don’t market cosmetic work to the general public” in any way whatsoever. There are some things you can do – you just don’t want to make it your main line of marketing. To that end, I’ve included a few tips towards the end of this article on that very subject. The smartest move is to usually keep most of your new patient marketing efforts focused on things everybody needs. If you bring in enough new patients for general dentistry, I guarantee you’ll find plenty within those that are candidates for clear aligners, veneers, makeovers, etc. (As an aside, if you need help attracting more high-quality new patients that care about their dental health, check out the MGE New Patient Workshop.)
So how do you find more cosmetic cases within your existing patient base?
1. Include a short cosmetic survey for every patient that comes in.
As a part of every visit (hygiene, new patients, treatment, etc.), the hygienist or assistant should ask the patient questions about their smile and anything they’d like to change or improve about it. This gives you an idea of who may be a candidate before you (the doctor) see them and gets you right into the conversation because you already know what their chief complaint is.
And don’t just survey the patient once. Survey them every time they come back, because life (and people’s priorities) change. Maybe it’s financial or personal, but now they’ve decided the want to make an improvement and have the means to make it happen. So, don’t skip the survey just because they already answered is 3 or 6 months ago.
Dr. Michael Ofir, a client of ours, is amazing and does a ton of cosmetic cases, and he wrote a fantastic article about how he does his survey and gets his patients excited about cosmetic work. You can read it here.
2. Have tons of promotional material for cosmetic services in your office.
When is there a better time to strike someone’s interest than when they’re already in your office – and you can get them signed up right then and there?
So have promotional materials all around the office, like:
- Before & after photos
- Offers for a free smile consultation
Don’t just do one of these things, do all of them! Just like with any product you see in advertisements, the first time you see it you may thing “Eh…” but then the 20th time you go, “Wait, what is this? Hey, that actually seems pretty cool!”
3. Don’t make any assumptions before talking to the patient about it.
I’ve met a lot of dentists that change their approach when presenting cosmetic work versus restorative work. With general dentistry, they’ll be focused on getting through to the patient, educating them and showing them why the procedure is important. But with cosmetic work, they’ll be more hesitant or start making assumptions that the patient won’t want it, be able to afford it, or whatever.
In most cases, if someone really wants something, they’ll figure out a way to do it. Don’t assume that just because someone doesn’t drive a Mercedes that they won’t make an investment in their smile.
So do a survey, find out how important it is to the patient, and then use intraoral cameras, photos, videos, etc., to show them how you can help them create a beautiful smile. And then you’ll be surprised how many patients will go the extra mile to get it done when you didn’t think they be able to afford it.
(Related: Presenting Treatment with Confidence)
As a note: It’s normal and expected for doctors to prioritize restoring health and function over cosmetic work. Even when a cosmetic issue is the patient’s “chief complaint,” if they only have the means to choose one course of treatment, it’s a no brainer which route needs to be taken – i.e. eradicate disease and restore optimal oral health. But having said that, let’s dive into how to start doing more cosmetic cases with patients that are good candidates for it.
4. Have multiple financial options available to the patient
Use multiple 3rd party companies so you can give the patient options. Don’t just use one. Maybe they’ve already used “Company X,” for general work, or they get disapproved by them. With multiple options you have back up plans.
In the majority of cases, cosmetic dentistry isn’t as much of a need as a want, so make it as easy as possible for the patient to get it done.
5. Send out promotional materials to your patients
As I mentioned before, sometimes it takes 5, 10 or 20 times we see an ad before we really take notice, and people’s life situations change. So, keep promoting cosmetic services to your patients.
You can reach out to your patients with things like:
- Flyers, postcards, etc.
- Newsletters containing education materials and a special offer
- Social media (the bulk of your Facebook following is always going to be your existing patients)
6. BONUS: Cost-effective ways to attract new patients for cosmetic dental services
I know I’ve spent this whole article talking about finding cosmetic candidates within your existing patient base, but here are a few ideas for attracting new patients seeking cosmetic services that won’t “break the bank:”
- Include extensive info about all your cosmetic services on your website. Include tons of information about them as well as photos and videos. Make it engaging and informative. Displaying astonishing before-and-after photos and testimonials (ensure you get proper releases in accordance with HIPAA) is key.
- Have a search-engine-optimization strategy for cosmetic services. If someone’s searching for “veneers,” “Invisalign,” etc., on Google, I want my website to show up first. So, work with your SEO/Internet Marketing company to make sure you’re on page one of Google for those searches in your area. You can also do Google ads for these same people. If you need some help with this, you can find out how to do this at the MGE New Patient Workshop.
- Cross-promote with salons, designer stories, high-end gyms and other places with a clientele that would be interested and qualified for cosmetic services.
Those are all ways to reach potential new patients that are interested in cosmetic services without overspending.
I hope this helps! If you want to learn more, coming to one of our seminars around the US & Canada or check out our online CE courses at www.ddssuccess.com.
And if you have any questions you can always write me at ChrisM@mgeonline.com or call us at (800) 640-1140.