If your practice is located in a market where there is not a lot of competition, then you can count yourself lucky. For some dentists, however, the competition can be pretty strong. Many markets are indeed flooded with dental practices. Add to this the fact that savvy dental practices everywhere, especially the corporate chains, are taking to the Internet and using various digital marketing tools to boost visibility, making it rather difficult for an individual practice to attract and keep new patients.
While your practice may actually be superior to others in the area, a new patient can’t really know that from a simple online search and compare. So when it comes to making sure your practice doesn’t get lost in the crowd, the best advice is to go on a reconnaissance mission in your market and research how your practice measures up online compared to some of the top practices in your area.
The first step in your research should be to seek out online reviews for the top practices in your market. “Online reviews” doesn’t mean the reviews that the practice cherry picks to put on the website. It means the unsolicited reviews that patients leave on platforms like Google and Facebook.
Check out the five-star reviews as well as the one-star reviews to gain a good understanding of what patients like and dislike about each practice. Consider as well that even the best practices receive negative reviews from time to time, justified or otherwise. The way dentists respond to them speaks volumes about how seriously they take their practices’ online presence and their attitude about customer service.
From online reviews, it is only natural to move on to social media. If other practices are on social media, take note and look at how they are managing that presence. Are they using multiple platforms? Do they post often? What are they posting? Is it relevant and engaging?
If a practice is using social media effectively, it can be an invaluable tool for driving in new business and referrals from existing patients. A practice that posts varied content, including pictures and videos, once or twice a week is likely to be actively managing its social media presence either personally or by using a dental marketing agency. This is also a good indication that the practice takes its online presence seriously.
And when looking at the posts, take note of the likes, comments, and shares the posts are receiving. Likes, comments, and shares can be indicators of the size of the audience and the relevance (or not) of their content.
Another factor to consider in your reconnaissance is the presence and accuracy of online business listings for the major competitors in your area. First, check to see which practices are listed on major online directories, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! as well as the Yellow Pages, and how they appear, using various search engines.
Compare what you find to the practice’s website to see if there are any inconsistencies. According to Google’s research, four out of five people use search engines to find basic information such as location and hours of operation about businesses. If this information is lacking, hard to find, or inaccurate, then potential customers are likely to become frustrated and not visit that business.
The Final Step
The final step in your reconnaissance mission is to take all the information you’ve gathered about other practices and see how your practice stacks up. Take a good, honest look at your practice’s website, social media presence, online reviews, and online business listings and compare them to what you have found with the other top practices in your area.
You may even consider assigning this part to an unbiased third party, because this step will require a critical analysis that may end up revealing some shortcomings in your practice’s online presence and marketing. And if that does turn out to be the case, there is no need to become distressed. It only means your practice has room to improve in the digital marketing arena.
Remember, the real goal of your research is to determine whether your practice’s online presence outshines the rest in an ultra-competitive market. If it doesn’t, take stock and focus on the areas where it’s possible to do more. However, if your research shows that your practice is number one online, then it means you’re on the right track and your practice should stand out no matter what the competition is doing.
Don’t get complacent, though, or you risk losing your competitive edge. Once you know you have a good thing going, find other ways to capitalize on it. Take advantage of the forward momentum to accelerate new-patient outreach and grow your bottom line exponentially. Keeping things fresh and dynamic will ensure that your practice continues to attract patients and that the competition won’t have a chance to catch up to your lead.
With more than a decade of experience in corporate dental laboratory marketing and brand development, Ms. Ulasewich–Cullen decided to take her passion for the dental business and marketing to the next level by founding My Dental Agency. Since starting her company, she and her team have helped a wide variety of practices all over the nation focus their message, reach their target audience, and increase their sales through effective marketing campaigns. She can be reached at (800) 689-6434 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.