The right people have to know you, like you and remember you when the time comes to select or refer a dentist.
When you buy or start your practice, you want to establish a marketing plan that is defined by the objectives you want to achieve, the way you are going to achieve them and the time you are willing to endure to reach the benchmarks. These are general outcomes that are typically stated as follows:
- You need to produce a certain amount
- You need to attract a certain number of patients
- You need to perform a certain type of procedure
- You need to manage overhead
- You need to service your debt
In order for your marketing plan to achieve these specific objectives, it needs to do three things:
- Make people aware you before they need you and when they need you.
- Make people feel good about you, and associate good things with your brand.
- Make people remember that you are the best choice when the time comes for them to need the services you provide.
The great news is that this is all achievable, but to do so, you need a comprehensive tactical dental marketing plan.
The Problem is a Noisy World, Lot’s of Choices
You know as well as I do that we are living in an age of unprecedented information flow. There are a million things to distract us from paying attention to the other million things that are presented to us. The people you want to attract as patients have the exact same challenge, resulting in the need for you to work extra hard to get their attention, and keep it.
We all get hit with something that draws our attention. Then, literally, in the seconds after the encounter with the information, our brains have already moved on to the next thing presented to us. It’s not that we don’t want to remember things. It’s that we can’t.
The truth is, the things we remember are the things we see over and over again that at the same time resonate with us.
Your goal as the owner of a dental practice is to ensure that you not only get peoples attention, but that when you do, they associate good things with the brand of both you and your practice so they remember you when they or someone they know needs your services.
Right Message, Right Time, Right People
If you want people to know you, you have to be present. If you want them to like you, you have to do something that resonates with them. If you want to be remembered, you have to do something that stands out, and do it all the time, so they can see it.
In my view, there are three main sections of your marketing plan, each doing a certain thing a certain way, but all working together to achieve your objectives and outcomes.
Online Marketing (SEO, Social Media, Review Sites, eMail, Websites)
- You need to be there when they search for what they need before they need you.
- You need to be there when they search for what they need when they need you.
- You need to be there, in the right way, when they discover you offline and decide to check you out.
Offline Marketing (Print, TV, Radio, Referrals, Community Relations)
- You need to be there when they are not expecting you.
- You need to be there when they need what you do.
- You need to be there as often as possible.
Internal Marketing (Newsletters, Staff Performance, Facility, Conversations)
- Your dentistry has to be top notch.
- Your staff has to deliver an exceptional experience.
- The conversations you have with your patients have to foster a deeper relationship that results in more referrals.
(Note: I advocate for spending as much time and money with your current patient base rather than trying to attract new people to your practice, but the requirement is the same.)
In truth, all three components work together for optimal impact. You can get by with one or two, but if you want to excel, or compete at a higher level, you must consider all three.
Dental SEO: A Scenario to Illustrate the Point
To keep things simple, imagine that you pay for dental SEO. When a prospective patient is in need of dental services, your hope is that when they search they come across your practice. In a typical scenario, not only will a person see you, they will see all of your competitors and in no way will find it easy to make a choice.
Now imagine that you donate your time to a local community organization to teach people about the importance of dental health. You donate regularly so that people get a chance to see you on a regular basis. People who you encounter talk about you among each other as well as the folks they know.
A buzz is created in the community.
Now, imagine that one of these people goes to Google to search for a dentist in your area. Instead of seeing a bunch of dentists who look the same, they see one that stands out like a beacon. YOU!!!
You stand out because they remember that you are the dentist who taught their kid why it is important to brush their teeth. You stand out because someone they know talked about how awesome your presentation was. You stand out, not because of your dentistry, but because you were present, all the time, with the right people, doing something that resonated with them.
It is tempting to think that you are optimizing your practice growth because you are doing one, or two of the three things. In reality, because of what is required to grab and hold people’s attention, because of the competition for people’s attention, because you need to stand out in a crowd in a way that gets people to like and trust you, you have to do more. You have to make sure that no stone is unturned.
You have to cover all your bases.
Rest assured that your competition is, particularly if you compete with larger multi-functional practices who spend lot’s of money on brand awareness.