In most markets, there are too many dentists and only so many patients. In dense metropolitan areas, many dentists find it challenging to attract new patients to their dental practices.
You can be the best dentist in town, but if you're not getting the word out about your dental practice, you're on the path to failure. How can you attract new patients and keep your old ones coming back?
We're here to offer some advice. Keep reading to discover our top strategies for growing your dental practice.
1. Improve Your Website
Many dentists fail to recognize the power of digital marketing. After all, dental care is an essential service. Why should dental practices have to market themselves online?
In reality, digital marketing is crucial for dental practices in metropolitan areas. Patients have many options and you need to stand out in the crowd. Your website will be one of your best marketing tools, so take advantage of it.
Make sure your website is responsive and loads quickly on mobile devices. Fill your site with accurate and up-to-date information, and make it SEO-friendly. People shouldn't have to click more than three times to find the information they need. When is the last time you played prospect and went through the process to request a new patient appointment and complete health history forms on your website using a mobile device?
Your website should not only list all of your available services, insurance information, contact information, and anything else a patient may want to know before contacting you, but it must also be extremely easy to use and convenient for new patients to get an appointment in your office.
2. Take Advantage of Social Media
Speaking of dental practice marketing, social media marketing is extremely powerful and cost effective when you're trying to grow your practice.
Social media isn't just for teenagers. People of all ages enjoy social media, and it's often where they find their goods and services. If you're not on social media, you're missing out on an excellent marketing tool.
Look at the demographics of different social media platforms and use that information to determine where you should direct your efforts. Who is an ideal new patient for your practice?
Many dental practices post new patient specials, local events, and even a "behind the scenes" look at their teams and offices. Social media gives you an opportunity to connect with your patients in a new way and a powerful tool to learn what messages and offers resonate with your target audience.
3. Assess Patient Satisfaction
How happy are your patients? If you're trying to get new patients, but your current patients aren't returning, you may want to see if there's an underlying problem at the practice first.
Assess patient satisfaction with reviews, polls, and surveys. After a patient is done with their appointment, try texting or emailing with a follow-up survey. Generally speaking, people will be happy to do a brief survey as long as you make it easy for them.
You should pay close attention to your reviews. If patients aren't leaving good reviews, why not? What could you be doing differently? Share what you learn with the entire team so that everyone is focused on providing the best customer service in town. For a review of net promoter score (NPS) you can download Dustin Burleson's Definitive Guide to Key Performance Indicators here.
4. Focus on the Patient Experience
Often, improvement has to start within the dental practice itself. Start working on the patient experience.
Make sure your staff is well-trained. Everyone from the employees at the front desk to your most experienced dentists, assistants and hygienists should receive routine training to make sure they're giving your patients the best possible experience.
What can you learn about customer service from companies like Disney, Apple, Costco and Southwest Airlines? If you want patients to come back to you and refer their friends and family, they have to be more than just happy and satisfied with the care they received. They have to be raving fans.
If you've received feedback from existing patients, apply it. Look for areas in which you can improve. If patients mention someone doing something positive, add it to your training (and be sure to reward great performance while you're at it).
When you improve things for your patients, they'll keep coming back to you.
5. Ask Patients to Spread the Word
It's okay to ask patients to spread the word about your dental practice. Digital marketing is very important, but word of mouth is still a powerful tool for growing your business.
It's not uncommon for parents to recommend a family dental practice to their friends with children, for example.
You can ask patients to spread the word in person, on your surveys, or even online. If you notice a good review, you can comment on it, thank the patient, and ask them to refer friends and family to your practice.
6. Start a Blog
Have you considered starting a blog on your dental practice website? Blogs aren't what they used to be. While blogging used to be a personal activity more akin to journaling, where people talked about fashion and food, it's now an effective marketing tool.
Your blog can boost your website's SEO. If you carefully use keywords to your advantage, you can focus your marketing efforts on attracting local patients with your blog.
Your blog isn't solely about attracting potential patients with keywords, however. It should be full of helpful information. By sharing this information with viewers, you'll be establishing yourself (and your dental practice) as an authority.
Think about common questions you receive from patients. Answer those questions in a professional manner on your blog. While these posts aren't exclusively for marketing your dental practice, people in your area who are asking those questions online will find your website as a result.
When prospective patients see that you're providing helpful information, they're more likely to visit your website again and, ideally, become patients themselves.
7. Get Involved in the Community
Digital marketing is helpful, but because you're trying to market your dental practice to local patients, old-fashioned marketing is still important. Getting involved in your community is a great way to market your practice.
Consider setting up a booth at a local event or convention. You can give out small freebies, like floss or toothpaste, and provide helpful information about dental health.
Make sure you bring a laptop or tablet with a WiFi hotspot so that you can schedule patients online at the booth.
You can also sponsor a local event to get your name out there. You want your dental practice to be recognizable. If people can remember your name, they're more likely to visit your practice.
8. Add New Amenities and Services to Your Practice
Have you considered adding something shiny and new to your dental practice to attract new patients?
Your practice should strive to keep up with the newest dental technology around. Not only will this provide a better service for your current patients, but it will attract new ones as well.
You could add a pediatric dental specialist (as well as a child-friendly waiting area) to attract new parents. You could bring an orthodontist onto your team to expand into orthodontic care (which will attract adults and parents of teenagers).
The more impressive your practice is, the more people will want to visit. No one ever asks “What’s the same?” Everyone wants to know “What’s new?” Give them something to talk about.
9. Offer New Patient Specials
Many people avoid dental care due to the cost. If you want to attract patients who haven't visited the dentist recently, offer new patient specials.
So what should those specials include?
Generally speaking, they include a low-cost initial exam as well as a low-cost (if not free) professional cleaning. They may also include a free dental care kit with toothpaste, floss, and a toothbrush.
This may seem like it would be too small to attract new patients, but you'd be surprised at how many people visit the dentist when it becomes less of a financial burden.
10. Offer a Membership Savings Plan
Speaking of the cost of dental care, membership savings plans can also be beneficial if you're trying to attract new patients.
Membership savings plans are great for patients who don't have dental insurance. The plans lower the costs of common services like dental cleanings, check-ups, and often some minor restorative work.
Patients who need work done will be happy to visit your practice if you can provide them with a good deal. They're also sure to be return patients because the plans last all year. They have no reason to switch providers (and they may recommend your dental practice to others).
It's Time to Start Growing Your Dental Practice
Growing a dental practice is more challenging when you're surrounded by competition. These tips will help you get on the right track and attract new patients (and keep your existing patients).
Provide a fantastic service for your patients. Give them a reason to talk about you. Focus on them, and you will reap the benefits.
Are you trying to take your dental practice to the next level? We want to help you. We understand the importance of a patient-centered approach to dental marketing.
Check out our programs that will help you elevate your business and improve your overall patient experience.