For the average consumer, choosing a dentist can be as painful as pulling teeth. (Okay, that’s a bad example.) But most people don’t like randomly selecting the person who’s going to be using a drill inside their mouth.
First, you need to establish trust and credibility with potential patients. But how can you do that on a regular basis with complete strangers? Try these 10 creative ideas to bring new patients into your dental practice.
Market to Children
Yes, you read that right. Give free toothbrushes to elementary schools in your area. Attach a card with your practice’s contact information and an introductory discount.
Since kids love receiving little presents, you can be sure the toothbrush and its accompanying card will make it into their homes—and likely into their parents’ hands.
And don’t turn out the porch lights on Halloween! Hand out personalized toothbrushes that promote your practice. Attach discount cards to the toothbrushes so they stand out in each child’s sea of sugary treats.
Host an Event
Who are you passionate about helping? Organize an event that combines helping those you care about with your dental practice.
Could you give up a day to provide free teeth cleaning to the homeless? How about teaming up with several other dentists and organizing a day of making house calls to perform basic denture services for seniors? Maybe you could head to a women’s shelter and provide free services to the women and their children.
Let local newspapers and radio stations know about the event with enough time for them to include it in their news cycle. If you provide the service for an organization, you also can ask it to promote and document the event on its website.
Gain a Reputation for Good Service
People talk. Become the talk of the neighborhood for all the right reasons by providing the best service possible.
Everybody loves to be remembered, so do what you can to show your patients you know who they are. Ask them what they do for a living, how many children they have, and where they’re going on vacation.
If your memory is too slippery to hang onto the facts, take a few seconds to write the answers in your patients’ charts. When they come back in six months, you can ask them how the job search went, if they enjoyed snorkeling in Hawaii, or if their 18-year-old found success in her first semester at college. They’ll be blown away that you care, and not only will they feel good in your presence, they’ll also tell others.
Send Dental Postcards
You may think direct mail is a waste of time in this digital age. But the numbers don’t lie. A US Postal Service study found that 60% of direct mail recipients visited the promoted website on their piece of direct mail.
While email campaigns are also an effective part of a complete advertising campaign, they rarely, if ever, produce the same results. In the medical/dental industry, just 22% of emails are typically even opened.
And how about moving those consumers to a purchase? Well, 23% of direct mail recipients visit the sender’s store location and 39% of consumers will try a business for the first time after receiving direct mail. Compare that to the dental industry’s email click rate of 2.49%, which doesn’t always even mean a sale, and you can see that direct mail advertising is well worth the effort.
Target neighborhoods near your business, and include a strong call to action. Sweeten the deal with an incentive, and you’ll hear your phone start ringing off the hook.
How About an App?
People don’t like making or receiving phone calls anymore. That’s why many dental practices are moving to text reminders for appointments.
But go even further than text, and create an app for your dental practice. Make it easy for your current patients to keep using you as their dentist by including features such as appointment scheduling, resources for common questions, bill pay, and a place to ask questions.
Not up on your tech? You could hire someone to create an app for you, or you could use a program that makes app development easy.
It’s all about who you know. Build relationships with local orthodontists, pharmacists, and pediatricians. Ask them if you can leave brochures on their counters, and allow them the freedom to do the same at your office. Develop an understanding that you’ll refer patients to them, and they’ll refer patients to you.
You could even consider joining forces publicly. Host a community health fair. Think about sharing advertising space in a school yearbook or sponsoring a local youth sports team together. Keeping your business relationship public will make more of an impact and keep you top of mind.
Advertise Strategically on Facebook
With 700 million visitors a day, it’s crazy not to take advantage of the kind of reach Facebook provides. But don’t cast your net too far.
Facebook allows you to get uber-specific, which is perfect because you can actually target the people who will most likely use your dental services. Structure your campaign by location, age, interests, and more relevant factors for your practice.
Just like with direct mail postcard advertising, include a strong call to action that your target audience will find difficult to resist.
Google My Business
Are you aware of this free (and easy—set it and forget it) advertising opportunity? It’s an absolute essential for any brick-and-mortar business because it helps you be found when someone is searching online for local dentists.
Listing your practice on Google My Business causes your business to list higher in local Google searches. Using Google My Business will also help your practice to show up in Google maps, Google+, and organic searches.
Not only that, but being online—and showing up at the top or near the top of a search—establishes credibility for any potential customer who’s using Google to search for dental practices.
Blog Shareable Content
A blog is a crucial component of a solid content marketing strategy to help you stay relevant and get noticed. It helps with search engine optimization for your website, and it also gives you something to share on social media.
But don’t use your blog for shameless self-promotion. Write articles on subjects that patients actually want to read about, like helpful tips. Well-written posts that are fun to read or include important information will get shared, which will get your practice noticed.
Ask for Reviews
It’s estimated that 9% to 15% of people fear the dentist so much so that they’ll avoid dental visits altogether. That means millions of people are afraid of what you do. (Don’t take it personally.)
Some of those people are going to take some serious convincing to visit the dentist. Sometimes, that convincing can’t come from you. Ask your satisfied patients to write about their positive experiences with your practice on Yelp. Also, collect testimonials to include on your website and social media pages. These can help some prospective patients take comfort in other people’s positive experiences with your practice.
It’s important to be creative in your marketing so you can always be establishing trust and credibility with potential patients and bringing them into your practice. When you’re authentic and creative with your efforts, you’ll eventually find the right mix of marketing strategies and become the most successful dentist in your area.
Tyler Brown is a content specialist for the dental postcard company DentalMarketing.net, specializing in direct mail campaigns. He also manages content for OrthodonticMarketing.net, specializing in direct mail postcards for orthodontists.
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