Owning your own dental practice requires many entrepreneurial skills and habits that have nothing to do with what you learned in dental school. While your training gave you the experience and knowledge to be an excellent oral health care provider, there is a lot that goes into marketing your dental practice.
With a little information and experimentation, you may become a marketing expert. Yes, there’s a lot of expertise that goes into marketing your dental practice. However, this primer will at least give you the exposure you need to determine if you have the time and interest in doing it yourself or partnering with an outside agency to bring in new patients.
An Optimized Website for Your Dental Practice
You probably already knew that an updated website is a must in order to market your dental practice successfully. While a lot of your business will come from referrals and insurance providers, the vast majority of new business will find you with a simple web search. How well does your website perform on web searches could mean the difference between those new patients finding you...or not.
An optimized website for your dental practice needs to have several key components and features.
Fast Load Times
Make sure you have an adequate hosting plan that loads your website quickly for every visitor. Remember that people are impatient. The longer it takes for your website to load (meaning for it to appear on the screen) the less likely a new visitor is to find out more about your business. Your website should load completely in 2-5 seconds. In fact, the likelihood that someone will leave your site increases exponentially for every second longer they have to wait.
Don’t forget mobile! Test your load times and the entire user experience on a mobile device, too. With more and more people using their cell phone as their primary device to access the web, the more important it is to make sure that your site renders quickly on iPhones and Android devices.
Location and Contact Information
Put yourself in the position of a new patient, or anyone looking for information from a business’s website. If you were, for example, trying to figure out the location of a restaurant, you want that to be the first thing you see, correct? Never make anyone hunt for your contact details. So, your address and phone number must be easy to spot on the website. Include a “contact us” or an “about us” link in the website navigation.
A keyword or a set of keywords are the terms someone puts into a search bar when they’re researching information on the web. The search engines (and especially Google) scan millions of website records to help those searchers find exactly what they’re looking for. The pages on your website need to include those terms your potential patients are using (i.e. “a dentist near me”, “affordable dentist”, “get new veneers”). Working with a marketing expert who is well-versed in SEO (search engine optimization) will help ensure that your website copy is optimized properly.
Professional Blog Content
An active and engaging blog is one of the best ways to fill your site with optimized content and useful information for your patients. Your blog is also your opportunity to show your expertise in treatments and services. Build blog titles around your keywords (i.e. “What is the Process for Getting New Veneers”) can also help patients find you and your practice when they’re looking for a specific procedure.
If you do not have the time to commit to regular blogging, consider simply sharing content from a trusted source, such as the Dental Health Society (dentalhealthsociety.com).
Active social media accounts are another easy way for people to find you. Posts don’t have to be graphic-intensive. In fact, it’s better to keep it simple. Include links to your blog articles or third-party content from other publications. The bottom line is that many people use the messaging systems of large social media platforms as their preferred method of communication, so your staff should be prepared to field incoming questions and inquiries from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
Your current patients are your best opportunity for referrals. They know how good you are at what you do. Encourage them to refer business to you, then reward them for it! Offer up free treatments like regular cleanings or perks such as teeth whitening. Advertise your referral program on your site and put up signage around the office. Remind your staff to talk to your patients about it when they’re checking out or making their next appointment.
Email isn’t dead! An occasional email, even monthly or quarterly, gets your name and information in front of those people who haven’t been to the office in a while. Even if you don’t publish a newsletter, use a program that sends out automated emails reminding folks it’s time to make an appointment.
Online Business Listings and Reviews
Make sure that you or someone in your office has updated your Google business listing. It’s free and it really helps people notice your business when they’re searching for an office that’s close to their current location. It’s an absolute must in the era of cell phones.
Your Google listing, and other online services like Yelp, are also excellent opportunities for positive customer feedback. Just like with any retail business, new customers are looking for reasons to trust you. Encourage folks to give leave positive feedback and make sure that they have easy and clear instructions on how to do that. Take your favorite of those reviews and use them as testimonials on your website. All of that positive feedback will foster confidence with new patients, making marketing your dental practice that much easier.
People tend to trust businesses in their community that support other local businesses and members of that same community. Look for opportunities to sponsor youth sports or local charity events. Donate your time to help those less fortunate. Seek opportunities to advertise in small local directories that include local businesses like yours. Reach out to other business owners who also provide charitable or community support and ask them for opportunities to join in.
Networking can result in the best type of marketing there is - viral marketing. Whether you join a local chapter of a networking organization or just find opportunities for in-person networking, make it a regular priority. The more people who know you and trust you, the more likely they are to keep your name top of mind and share it the moment someone around them is looking for a new dentist.
Marketing your dental practice isn’t complicated, but it’s time-consuming and it certainly requires a lot of experience. Let us know how we can help you get started with a cost-effective marketing plan today.