And if you’ve looked ahead on the schedule for September, October, etc, (especially Hygiene) you may notice that it is significantly lighter than usual. We’re seeing this with offices across the US and Canada.
This means, that in addition to whatever reactivation efforts you have going, that new patients are going to be crucial in the months to come!
And the time to start working on this is now. If you delay action until your schedule empties out, you’re putting your practice’s health at risk!
So, what can you do right now to quickly increase your new patient flow?
Well, that’s the topic of this post! Specifically, dental marketing ideas that you can implement immediately.
1. Get your patients’ family & friends scheduled and into the practice
Getting referrals is always your best (and least expensive) way to get more high-quality new patients.
The average household has three people in it. From my experience with dental offices in the US and Canada, typically 90% of the patient base consists of just one patient from each household. What’s happening with the other two? And why are they not patients in your practice?
(Related: 6 Ways to Get More New Patient Referrals)
We then have the retention factor: Each long-term patient in your practice can translate into about eight (8) patients over time between referring family and friends. So, a stable, growing Hygiene Department in an office with great customer service added to a well-executed referral program can act like “rocket fuel” for practice expansion!
When our clients implement this strategy, I’ll see new patient numbers increase quickly; shockingly fast at times. And all this just from two relatively easy actions: focusing on getting family members scheduled and building Hygiene. I say easy because the general public more or less expects two things: 1) that they should see a dentist regularly and 2) that they are supposed to get a dental “checkup” and cleaning twice a year.
For that matter, we’ve done a number of video tips on this that you can find on our YouTube channel: how to run an effective referral program, how to get more new patient referrals, and build your hygiene department. I recommend watching them here and here.
2. Don’t underestimate the power of good signage
The last practice I ran saw 300 new patients per month, and about 100 of them found us from our sign. I’ve seen the same thing from other practices with good signage—about 1/3 of their patients come from the sign.
Getting a nice, big, attention-grabbing sign can seem expensive—but it’s a one-time payment that is a lot cheaper in the long run than many other types of sustained marketing.
So here’s my advice:
- Find out what you’re allowed to do in your location (depending on the rules or lease agreement).
- If you can’t do a roadside sign, put a big one on the roof or building façade. If you can’t do that, perhaps you can do large window decals.
- If you already have a big sign, you may even consider a second one. Perhaps a smaller sign a bit down the road pointed toward your office.
- Do the most you can within those limitations. Ideally, we want a big sign with strong colors (and possibly with some lights on it), that is clearly visible from the highest trafficked areas of the road(s) near your practice. I don’t want it to be a tacky monstrosity, but it should definitely attract the eye of someone that only glances at it while driving by.
- If possible, include a phrase on the sign along the lines of “New Patient Special” or “New Patients Welcome.”
- Maintain your sign and keep it nice and professional. If some bulbs are out, if it’s smudged and dirty, or pieces are falling off of it…that may do more harm than good.
As far as billboards go, I’m not a huge fan. They are pretty hit or miss. It’s possible to have success if it’s in the right location, but in recent years none of my clients have had success with billboards.
3. Use a different approach with social media
Obviously, you want to have a Facebook page for your practice and post things on their regularly. You may even run some Facebook ads, too.
I recommend creating a personal Facebook account for the doctor and participating in local Facebook Groups.
There are most likely a ton of Facebook groups that people in your local area participate in. They’re usually about a specific topic or hobby, and people have discussions and share photos, advice, interesting tidbits, etc.
Some examples would be:
- Jobs and hiring
- Home and garden
- Cars and motorcycles
- Local sports teams
- Running, cycling, triathlons, etc.
- Local businesses
- Painted rocks (apparently a lot of people are interested in painting decorative rocks and placing them around the community. Who knew this was a thing?)
- And many, many more
On Facebook, you can click on the “Groups” tab and it’ll suggest local groups that may be relevant to you.
You can find some that you are legitimately interested in and join the discussion.
Now, this is NOT an advertising opportunity. Most groups have rules against advertising or self-promotion in the group. And as a Facebook user, it just stinks when you’re trying to have a conversation about your hobby and someone comes in trying to advertise their business. Nobody wants to hear about “5 Reasons to Get Your Teeth Cleaned” or how dental implants work in their Local Hockey Dads group.
This is just an opportunity to honestly engage with your community and get your name out to more people.
So find some groups you’re actually interested in participating in. If you’re a mom, you may want to join a group of local moms where you can share advice, discuss schooling issues, etc. If you are a “dog person,” share pictures of your cute dogs in the pet owners group. If you’re into cars, you could join a group about cars. Or fishing, running, hiking, etc.
For instance, I’m a hockey dad, so I post updates and photos from my son’s hockey games in the hockey dad’s group. If I were sponsoring a local children’s hockey team, I’d share that.
It should be fun!
You might share something relevant about your practice, profession, patients, things you’re doing in the community, etc,—as long as it’s legitimately interesting and relevant to the group and not just a blatant advertisement.
Your Facebook profile name should include “Dr.”, “DDS”, etc., so that people know you’re a dentist.
Just being a part of the group and contributing to the discussion will get your name out there. Next time one of the members needs a dentist, they’ll think of that dentist (you) that they know in the group.
Let your personality shine through. I have so many clients that have fantastic personalities and do so much for their community, but nobody ever knew about it until they started getting active on social media. Then the community started embracing them more.
And if you don’t have time for this yourself, perhaps a spouse, family member, or staff member you trust can help you with it.
4. Find and work with a reputable company for online marketing and/or other advertising campaigns
In the current environment, you’re in kind of a tough spot because you can’t afford to waste money on ineffective marketing. But you also can’t afford not to market, because you’re going to need more new patients than ever to stay productive after the pandemic.
Here at MGE, we are not a marketing company. We don’t design websites, do search-engine-optimization, or postcards. We’re an education and coaching company. We give you the knowledge to be in control of the success of your practice.
So I highly recommend that you spend a fraction of the cost of a marketing campaign by first learning how to get it right. We teach this at the MGE New Patient Workshop—a virtual workshop you can attend online that will teach you how to:
- Evaluate which kinds of marketing you should do
- Be in control of the results and ensure you get great return-on-investment
- Pick a reliable marketing company (we have a list of companies that our clients have had success with)
- Implement cost-free strategies to attract high-quality patients
- Get more word-of-mouth referrals
- Get these new patients to arrive in the practice and retain them long-term
- And much more
It only costs a small fraction of the cost of a marketing campaign, and the knowledge will pay dividends for you for the rest of your career. It also comes with a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied for any reason.
Fill out the form below to get more info or call us at (800) 640-1140 today!
I hope these tips help!