Engage your existing audience while reaching a new one
By Alyssa Keefer
For a lot of business owners, marketing is merely seen as an expense. Something that you can pour thousands of dollars into without the immediate results you think you should see. Marketing should be seen as an investment into the success and prosperity of your business. With a comprehensive marketing plan in place, your organization is prepared to engage your existing audience while reaching a new one.
Except for practicing dentistry, I have worked my way through every position in a dental office to understand the day-to-day operations of a dental practice. With this unique perspective, I understand the dynamic challenges and needs that dental practices face each day. I am a marketing manager for dental groups across the United States and Canada, with one goal in mind: helping practices win with marketing initiatives.
The Challenges Facing Dental Practices
The perception that marketing is an unnecessary expense isn’t exclusive to dentistry. In every industry, business owners are wary of the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. With dentistry, it can be even harder to connect with your audience without a marketing strategy. For example, many people are actively afraid of the dentist. Not having a marketing plan in place will only work to further perpetuate these fears.
On the other hand, you likely don’t have the time to even think about what your marketing efforts look like. Many dentists are focused on nailing down the right PPE protocols for your team, improving patient safety, how to engage your team, and making sure that you have the finances to cover everything. One of the biggest marketing challenges dentists face is the perspective of the patient. Without a patient-first mindset in your approach to marketing, your messaging will lack empathy and understanding for the challenges your patients are facing.
You need to show your patients that you have the solutions they need. If that means adjusting your hours on a weekday or even adding Saturdays to your schedule, that is the kind of approach that you might want to consider for your patients. Heavy self-promotion may not resonate with your audience, but sympathy and empathy certainly will.
How To Focus Your Marketing Efforts
Focusing your marketing efforts will not only give you a better picture of what works for your organization, but it will also help you to prepare future marketing campaigns to reach new patients. Here are some marketing focus areas that are crucial for any dental practice:
1. Messaging – Your messaging needs to accurately convey who you are and what you do for your patients. Authenticity is key, whether it’s through your mission statement, web copy, or even the imagery you use in promotional materials. It’s also important to recognize that what you have done in the past may not work anymore. COVID changed how we all perceive the world around us, and it’s important that your messaging reflects the new world climate. Additionally, you want your messaging to be cohesive across all your platforms: your website, social media accounts, emails, text messages, printed promotional materials, as well as voicemail and on-hold messages, which are most often forgotten. By updating your messaging to reflect things like COVID practices, you will show that you understand what your patients want and need right now.
2. Budget – Nearly 95% of dental practices recently reported that their patient collections were reduced by 75% or more during COVID-19. With less revenue to work with, your marketing efforts need to be more efficient than ever. Maximizing channels you already use like social media, email campaigns, and your website is vital to what you are doing right now. Maintaining a marketing budget can be difficult, so it’s important to make smart, informed decisions on what you spend your marketing money on.
3. Goals and Expectations – Setting realistic goals and expectations is crucial for the success of any business, especially during a pandemic. You need to understand that you might not hit the same goals that you might have a couple of years ago, and that’s OK. Working smarter and understanding what you can accomplish is all part of the new normal. When it comes to measuring your marketing effectiveness now against the results of pre-pandemic business, there will be absolutely no way to compare. It’s still important to measure and track data, but you need to be realistic about setting new benchmarks and KPIs. They will likely be moving targets, so be patient and trust the process.
4. Marketing Agency – Marketing a dental brand can be tough, even with a full marketing team. Marketing tactics and trends are constantly changing, as organizations like yours are competing for the attention of customers every day. Even if you have a marketing team, you might want to consider hiring a marketing agency for your marketing support needs. A lot of my clients and the people I am close with are far too busy to even think about marketing efforts for their practices. It’s a good problem to have, but it’s also a problem that can be easily resolved by outsourcing your marketing needs. A marketing agency is equipped with the tools, resources, and people to find new ways to drive engagement and attract new patients to your dental brands. Partnering with an agency could even give you that edge you need on your competition.
Alyssa Keefer is Founder and MarTech Guru with Novateur Media & joyFULL People. She has over 10 years of extensive “hands-on” experience working through every position in a dental group, growing into executive leadership, and helping launch a dental group from $0 to 40M in 5 years. Alyssa now coaches and consults dental groups on marketing, data analytics, operations, and more. Dental groups are empowered by her expertise and guidance to differentiate themselves through game-changing marketing and technology.