Attracting different types of patients requires different types of marketing.
Format vs. Content
Marketing channels like T.V, radio, newspaper, your website and print are considered formats. What you say in your T.V, radio and newspaper ad, as well as on your website and in print is considered the content , or the message you are delivering.
If you are one of those dentists who spends money on all these channels, but doesn’t change the message to accommodate different patient types, you are likely spending too much on marketing, because your marketing plan isn’t designed to attract different types of patients.
If you are one of those dentists who spends the bare minimum to develop your business, you are not spending enough, and are likely either not growing, or not doing the kind of dentistry you enjoy, or both.
The reason is, you have different patient types. Each type requires a different message, and in some cases a different channel. Your marketing plan needs to be designed to accommodate both so that you don’t just spend as a percentage of your overall production.
You invest to build the practice of your dreams.
Different Types of Patients
One of the first steps in creating either your business plan or your marketing plan is to examine the different types of patients you attract or want to attract. Note, if you are starting a dental practice from scratch, you will want to give serious consideration to who you need to attract to get your practice off the ground. Down the road you can expand it a bit.
Generally speaking, different patient types will fall into the following categories and each may bring the need to consider multiple channels and multiple messages:
- Adults, male or female
- Kids, segregated by age groups
- High income and low income
- Where they work
Type of Dental Procedure:
- Regular check-ups and hygiene
- Medium size cases like crowns
- Big cases and smile makeovers
- One time only patients like emergency procedures
Relationship to your practice:
- Current patient who is consistently scheduled
- Current patient who is never scheduled
- New patients
- Fee for Service
Understanding Each Type
For each of these patient types you or your dental practice marketer need to understand, essentially, what makes the people who fall into each category tick. You have to understand:
- Who each of the patient types are.
- What motivates them to select a dentist.
- Where they hang out, both online and off.
- Why they schedule an appointment with their dentist, and why they would choose you.
- When they make a decision to choose a new dentist or schedule an appointment.
- How they find information about dentists.
Once you have given all of this some time and consideration, you can begin the process of putting together a dental marketing plan that goes beyond just being a percentage of your production.
You create a marketing plan to deliver the right message at the right time to the right people over the right channel.
Only then will your marketing plan be a tool for true business growth, and only then will you be able to measure it’s success, primarily by the fact that the patients you want to serve will be scheduling appointments with your practice.
Well, that really depends on you and your objectives. Generally speaking, the next step is to craft a message or two that is more likely to resonate with each of the types of patients you want to work with.
To illustrate the point, let’s assume you are a cosmetic dentist who serves adult woman. To get started thinking the right way about your dental marketing plan, you might consider all the reasons your cosmetic patients come to your practice.
I heard one client tell me that a woman came to her practice because she was going to her high school reunion. The case was a big case in the form of a smile makeover. Turns out the patient wanted to make a great impression when she saw old friends.
The goal of the patient informs the message you use in your marketing to attract more of that type of patient. You could take out Facebook ads targeting woman who were about to attend their high school reunion. You could place ads in the local paper with the same message. Then you might create an entire page dedicated to woman who were attending their high school reunion.
The objective here is to study the motivations of your patients and the outcomes they expect, and use those insights to inform the messages you use to communicate with them across multiple channels.
It is tempting to view marketing as an expense and use a percentage of your overall production as a benchmark to determine how much to spend. This misses the point and purpose of a marketing plan that actually works.
The reason is, it doesn’t want to be a percentage of your production. It wants to be whatever it needs to be to attract the right patients to your practice, so your practice can grow.