We know you're always on the lookout for new patients. Due to the ever-fluctuating economy, they aren’t so easy to come by. So how can you continue to expand your practice when everyone already has their go-to dentist? We sat down with Dr. Leonard Weiss to gain insight on how his marketing techniques grew his business into a million-dollar practice. Here’s what he had to say on how to market your dental practice.
Five dental marketing tips for taking your practice to the next level from Dr. Leonard Weiss:
- There's no "one" medium.
Let's face it: as with most things in life, there's no simple solution. If you want to expand your practice, it's going to take time, investments, and patience. Be mentally prepared to invest an average of 10 percent of your gross monthly income if you're really set on making an impact with your advertising. You can try nearly every marketing technique under the sun. You may find out that advertising your practice on the radio increased your practice by 15 patients in April, and then have only one new patient in May. It's a constant trial and error process. So be creative, try different outlets and don't be afraid to do something new. And to successfully identify what marketing techniques are working for your dental office, track your results and engage your front office staff to ask new patients how they heard about your office.
- Get Online!
If you don't have an Internet presence, you're missing out! Our world, like it or not, operates nearly entirely online. Did you know that when determining whether to purchase a product or service, people generally have completed 58 percent of the buying process before they contact you? Now more than ever, people are doing their homework and finding information online and on social media outlets: yes, that means places like Facebook and Twitter. Your practice needs a website somewhere that prospective patients can go to "check you out" before they "check in" at your office.
- Remember, people talk.
Word of mouth. It's the oldest trick in the book, and the best one to date. People listen to friends and family and feel more comfortable visiting a dentist who has been referred to them rather than one they find in the provider directory. The clients that tell their friends about you are the same ones who end up writing your Yelp and Google reviews. Keep that in mind the next time you have a patient in the chair.
- Give them a freebie.
With all the fees your patients pay, they're going to flock to you if you give them anything for a discount, or my heaven, for free! So why not make them feel a little special and do just that? Hosting a "free cleaning day" for example, will definitely bring traffic through your door.
Now you're probably thinking, "if I give away a free cleaning to eight patients in one day, isn't that a loss to me?" Well, think of it this way: you know the bulk of the cost coming out of your pocket is your hygienist's salary, an average of $25 an hour. If you're utilizing the 10 percent of your gross profit for advertising practice, chances are you're spending quite a bit more each month than the $200 to $300 it will cost you to have a free cleaning day. Getting patients in your office is more than half the battle. Give them that great cleaning that will encourage them to tell their friends and family. Once you know they've had a great experience, send them on their merry way and ask them to write a nice review for you. As I said before, people will talk. While you have them in your office, it's a great time to talk to them about other dental services you offer, too! Establishing trust, offering them a service for free, and creating a positive in-office experience, can quickly turn these “free cleaning clients” into new, loyal patients.
Many states do have regulations specifically restricting the advertising of fees and discounts in connection with dental services. Under federal health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, rewarding those who refer business to you is considered a crime. So, check your state guidelines.
- No one ever did it alone.
You may want to take on the dentistry world all on your own and be the big kid on the block. But sometimes it's good to have a little help getting there. There are tons of other providers out there who, just like you, are trying to expand their practices. So instead of spending more funds than you may have to in order to compete with all of them, partner up with one or a few that you trust. If each of you can agree on a few different outlets of general advertising and split up the cost, you’ll cover more ground at a better price while making new friends. Who doesn’t like making new friends?!
If these tips don't give you a direct course of action, hopefully you take away some ideas to consider in the future for your practice. As cliché as it might sound, the sky is the limit, especially when it comes to smart ways to market your business.