Anyone that has dealt with trying to increase their customer numbers or to get their one-time customers to return knows it can be tricky and a lot of trial and error. I spent years in a marketing role at a dental organization, and I’ve tried many different tactics and strategies. In this article, I will discuss the pros and cons of several marketing avenues, the types of patients they target, costs and how to setup.
Yelp is an application for users to review their experience with a business. A business receives a Yelp rating based on the average number of stars from the reviewers. The reviews that users post can be viewed by anyone.
The types of patients that would benefit from Yelp the most are new patients. Most people will search online to find reviews about a practice. Existing patients don’t typically search for reviews about a practice unless they had a bad experience. Most families and people that are either new to the area or looking for a new dentist will turn to Yelp. Get instructions on how to setup a Yelp page now.
The next step is getting your existing patients to give you a review. Some patients may be very happy to give you a review. Others may think it will take up too much of their time. I have two suggestions.
- Have a dedicated computer close to the patient check-out station. Right before patients leave, ask them if they wouldn’t mind writing a quick review about their experience. Most patients will take the time because they have the experience fresh in their minds and you can assure them it won’t take long.
- Run a contest. If the patient writes a review on Yelp, they could be entered into a contest and have a chance to win some kind of valuable prize like an iPad, free dental gear, etc.
You can get feedback from your existing patients that could help you improve the quality of your practice. When patients see how important writing a review is to the practice, they’ll realize that their opinion matters, which gives them an extra incentive. If your practice is small, this may not be the way to go. Check out a quick video that will help you decide.
Facebook is a great way to stay connected with your community and staying relevant to existing patients. This platform is for promote things or events that have already happened or for getting involved with the community. Read a great article from Hootsuite on how to setup your company’s Facebook page.
Stay in touch with your existing community by showcasing services that you volunteer for or events that your clinic participates in. If you don’t post to your page on a consistent basis, people won’t stay engaged. I don’t recommend paying for Facebook ads. When you promote posts, it is costing you money and you don’t always know who exactly is viewing or liking your page. You can use word-of-mouth to invite your patients to check out your Facebook page and like your posts.
Twitter helps attract new patients and stay in touch with existing patients. This is the platform to use to show that you’re ahead of the curve, that you have the latest dental technology and perform the newest procedures. You can also use this to promote the latest dental research studies that would be interesting. Many people use Twitter to get their daily news highlights. Setting up your Twitter Business account is painless. You can use your account to follow your patients or other organizations in your community.
Billboards are one way to promote to new patients. It is most effective when you have the billboard in a busy area, such as near a highway or a busy street. The billboard should have a simple, clean layout with large images. I used billboards with images of one or two doctors, or with a fun, family-appropriate image. One Halloween, we used a Frankenstein smiling with bright white teeth on a billboard. This billboard brought in both new and repeat patients – many visitors mentioned the billboard when they came in.
In general, billboards don’t attract many new patients over a long time. It can be more effective if you change the billboard based on the seasons, but this could become costly. The cost depends on the location of the billboard and the type of image you utilize. For more information on finding an available billboard in the country you can go to Lamar.com. We have had great experience with MAD Outdoor Inc in Illinois.
Google Virtual Tour
Google virtual tour attracts new patients and I highly recommend it. One of the first places a potential patient turns to is Google. When they Google your practice, one of the first things that will appear is a “tour” of your practice, if you’ve created one.
Google does a professional job of setting up and taking the best photos for the tour. This gives you the edge for new patients. When someone first comes to visit, they are typically shy or nervous about entering a new facility. They like to know what the practice looks like before they decide to schedule an appointment. This will give them additional information about the office layout with the reception desk and how operations are set up. You can show off the design of your office and any new-age equipment in your practice.
Third party outreach
Third party outreach companies are the best for reminding your existing patients to come in. There are several companies that are able to connect to your dental software and use the information to text and email patients about their upcoming appointments or when their re-care is due. They can also allow patients to easily schedule an appointment or view their statements online.
I want to stress that there are pros and cons to software programs. One thing I recommend is getting a list of what features they offer that are compatible with your dental software. Sometimes, a third-party company can cause significantly more work for your staff that would not be worth the benefit it brings. Check out these third-party companies: LightHouse, Demand Force and SolutionReach. There are others available, too. Pricing does depend on what features you want and how many clinics you have.
Chamber of Commerce
Signing up with the Chamber of Commerce is promotes word of mouth and community engagement. You could try to host an open house in your dental office. This gives people in the community a chance to come and visit your clinic without feeling pressured to become a patient. Your staff can mingle with the people from the community, which will indirectly help promote your clinic by connecting with staff. During the event, you can also ask visitors to follow your other marketing channels like Facebook and Twitter, or to review your clinic on Yelp.
There are many forms of marketing, but these methods allow you to be creative and tailor content to your patients and prospective patients that you want in your clinic. Using a few of these methods at a time to implement your marketing strategy will help you gain new patients and bring existing patients back for maintenance and care.
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