There are several ways to grow your dental practice. Some of them require an investment of money. Others require only time. And some require both.
No matter how tight your budget is, however, you can invest in dental marketing and start growing your practice by focusing on these three categories of marketing.
1. Direct-to-Patient Promotions
High-impact direct-to-patient promotions should be designed to do a combination of building loyalty, getting referrals, and expanding your business with current and future patients. One of the best ways to connect with your patients is through an email or physical newsletter. A patient newsletter doesn’t have to be long, but it’s a great way to deliver a few pieces of news, an update on your practice, and a list of events, activities, or community involvement. It’s also a place where you can highlight great patient accomplishments, which you would share on social media as well. This helps connect you with your patients, remain top of mind, and update them on your practice and any promotions or programs they might be interested in joining.
Examples of programs or promotions you might include in your newsletter are toy drives, contests, giveaways, discounts on luxury services for patients to try, senior specials, and running a fun kids’ club.
Another great direct-to-patient promotion you can highlight in your newsletter is a referral rewards program. Giving a small gift card, a credit for future services, or an additional service, like a basic teeth whitening, if they refer a new patient are great ways to encourage people to refer their friends and family. Make sure to check your state board so you see what's allowed. These direct-to-patient promotions don’t have to cost much at all and can be very effective.
2. Community Promotions
Community promotions are a great way to build your reputation with influencers and connect with people whom your current patients aren’t connected.
Community promotion activities can be as simple as updating and distributing brochures, creating practice videos that you put online and promote to people in your community, attending, hosting, or creating events like a family night during Children’s Dental Health Month that people in your community can attend.
In addition, you could connect with other businesses to form strategic alliances to refer patients or offer a special promotion to each other’s patients or customers. You could run ads on Facebook or other social media platforms, in print, or on the radio or TV. Finally, you could reach out to businesses and schools in your community and offer to talk with them about dental health. Community connections can turn into patients or referral sources very quickly.
3. Dentist and Team Promotional Activities
Dentist and team promotional activities are things you and your team do in your office and through direct outreach to people who aren’t patients, such as specialists or pediatricians.
These activities are helpful because they can open doors to people who influence large numbers of patients, such as specialists or pediatricians and can build information, including testimonials, which can be used in future marketing efforts.
Examples of these activities include:
· sending brochures or other materials to dental specialists or pediatricians,
· conducting an internal campaign to get reviews or testimonials from happy patients that you can share with others,
· conducting tours of your Delivering WOW office for influencers, patients, and the general public, and
· team-building and learning activities, such as helping your team members prepare elevator pitches about why patients love your dental practice.
These activities help keep your practice top of mind with key influencers and show people what makes your practice so special and unique from your patients’ perspective so influencers feel confident referring patients to you and patients know they’re going to be treated like a VIP by you and your team.
Pulling it All Together
No matter what your budget is, I recommend every practice engage in one or two activities from each of these categories every month. For example, next month you might launch a physical or email newsletter where you promote a patient giveaway. You might also attend a senior event in your community and conduct a campaign to collect reviews or testimonials from happy customers. This opens communication with your patients with a giveaway, rather than asking for something in your first newsletter. At the same time, you will be connecting with your community and building reviews or testimonials to help you promote your practice in the future.
The next month you might promote your referral rewards program in your patient newsletter, speak to a preschool, and deliver brochures to five specialists.
I like to plan my marketing activities at least 12 months at a time. This 12-month picture helps me make sure I’m consistently engaging in each of these three ways to grow my practice.
I also created a Google spreadsheet that includes a sample 12-month marketing calendar, a list of 84 marketing strategies that fall into these categories, and a budgeting tool to help evaluate the return on investment for each activity.
When you’re starting out, I recommend investing five to seven percent of your revenue into marketing activities. If that’s not a possibility right now, start with as much as you can and focus on some of the lower-cost activities. When you find activities that are working consistently, you can begin increasing your budget and directing the additional money into the activities that are proven to work with your practice.
If you need help with getting started, I invite you to join me on the inside of Delivering WOW U, You'll have access to a detailed training on creating a 12-month dental marketing plan, plus access to the strategy spreadsheet, 12-month marketing template spreadsheet, and budgeting tool. You also have access to the Delivering WOW U forums where you can connect with me and other dentists building their practices to get ideas, support, and feedback on your dental marketing calendar and activities.