Getting more patients in the chair and gaining more recognition in the community are goals for many dental practices in 2017.
Nearly half of Dental Practice Success readers surveyed (49.4%) in the DPS New Year’s Practice Resolutions survey said they wanted to increase their patient base with new marketing initiatives, including Dr. Adam R. Bowen, a private practitioner in Manhattan, Kansas, who launched his practice 15 months ago after working for five years in a community health center.
Bowen Family Dentistry already has an interactive website and a vibrant Facebook page, but Dr. Bowen would like to build on his online presence with some advertising and outreach to patients who are looking for cosmetic/esthetic dental treatments.
“I think it is paramount to have a presence online,” said Dr. Bowen, a 2010 graduate of the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Dentistry. “I know how my wife and I search whenever we need a new service provider. We go straight to Google and start checking them out online. From what I read in dental publications and conversing with colleagues, I think many people in their 40s and younger will check you out online before they make the call. I think people just want to get to know you. They may be shopping around, too.”
Dr. Bowen said his website is designed to be a more formal contact point with patients and potential patients and details the kinds of treatment he offers, what insurance plans he participates in and other practical information. He worked with his website developer to help guide search engines to his site. He also uses Facebook to showcase his personality and his office’s atmosphere as well as to have a presence in his community.
“Social media is where I choose to let patients get to know us better and have a little more fun,” Dr. Bowen said. “Sometimes it takes multiple ‘touches’ with you or your presence before a person will make an appointment. Social media is just another way to let them know we are here and ready for them. Social media advertising is also inexpensive compared to a newspaper or radio ad, which can be ignored. When that ad shows up in your Facebook feed it at least gets seen. I just have to develop an ad that’s worth clicking on.”
“Marketing is the key to visibility,” said Rita Zamora, a social media marketing specialist in Boulder, Colorado, with more than 20 years of experience in working with dental professionals. “In the past, dentists only needed Yellow Pages ads or postcard campaigns (traditional marketing) when they wanted new patients. Today, dentists of all ages and career stages need a robust online presence in order to be found. Social media, online review and listing sites have replaced phone books and many traditional tools. Without a healthy online presence, practices lack basic visibility and this in turn affects viability. Marketing is no longer used just to attract new patients. It has also become an essential visibility and communication tool for patients to find and contact your practice.”
Ms. Zamora offers three easy, effective and affordable marketing ideas for dental practices:
- The fortune’s in your follow up. I was always amazed how many times I heard patients say, “I was just waiting for you to follow up with me to schedule my treatment appointment.” Use your patient’s preferred method of communication (text, email or phone call) to follow up and fill your schedule. (Learn more about rules governing calls or texts to patients at the ADA Center for Professional Success website.)
- Online reviews attract new patients. Of all the marketing strategies available, online reviews are among the most powerful. They not only help attract new patients, they also speak volumes for your practice credibility. There are a variety of options to successfully grow reviews, which may involve your team inviting reviews or automated technology to survey patients for you.
- Grow more of the dentistry you love. Many practices actively use social media, yet few actively promote the type of dentistry they want to do more of. In addition to showing your human side on social media, be sure to include content about the type of dentistry you enjoy and want to do more of. Whether you’d like to see more dental implant or Invisalign patients, if you aren’t actively sharing that with your network, you are missing valuable marketing opportunities.
Dr. Bowen has set some specific goals for increasing his online marketing efforts this year and plans to reach out to patients interested in cosmetic/esthetic services. He will work with his website developer to discuss online advertising, nail down a budget and how to fine tune his website’s functionality.
“For 2017, I want to utilize online marketing to increase esthetic/cosmetic cases,” said Dr. Bowen. “I have a target patient in mind and I want to design ways to direct that patient to our website. I still have a lot to learn in this regard but I think I have a solid foundation and we will proceed from there. I chose to focus on building up my cosmetic/esthetic practice because I am already equipped and trained to do it and I enjoy it.”
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Dental Practice Success. It was written by Stacie Crozier is editorial director for digital content for ADA Publishing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rita Zamora is an international speaker and consultant on social media marketing and online reputation. She and her team specialize in training and support for dental professionals across the U.S. and internationally. For more information, visit www.RitaZamora.com.