Marketing Strategies Toward A Successful Dental Practice
EFFECTIVE MARKETING STRATEGIES TOWARD IMPROVING YOUR DENTAL PRACTICE
You have to read Part 1 in order to appreciate this post because the things we will suggest here will not be effective for you if your perspective and mindset in promoting your own dental practice is not in tune on what we want you to achieve.
As the previous post we did, we differentiate the word of Marketing Versus Advertising. Marketing your clinic is in everything you do in your clinic. This is definitely not against any rules I know of. However, Advertising what you are Marketing will be necessary because how will your market knows who and what your dental practice is if you don't advertise. There are means and ways to advertise your dental services without being unethical and looking like ambulance chasers.
So, let's dealt with how you do marketing first on your dental practice.
KNOW AND ANALYZE THE REAL STATE OF YOUR DENTAL PRACTICE
You need to properly evaluate the state of your current dental business.
1. Your Financial - Income Versus Expense
- Know what's your revenue - your gross and net income. What are your regular expenses and expenses that will be finish at a certain time
- You have to set a budget on what you are willing to spend on marketing and advertising your dental clinic.
2. Evaluate Your Location and Dental Clinic
- You have to know what your location can offer. Is it accessible to public transportation or is there parking? Is it visible to the foot traffic outside or is your clinic inside a building? Is it close to a mall, restaurants and other amenities? Write down the advantages and disadvantages of your location.
- Assess what you have inside the clinic. Such as, do you have personnel like dental assistant or dental associate or dental hygienist? Is your equipment like your dental chair at par to the standard of what's current now and you can perform procedures with ease and your patients can be comfortable? What's the entire design and ambiance of your clinic? Write down the list of what you see inside your clinic, its features and benefits as well as stuff that you honestly believe that needs improvement.
3. Evaluate Your Patients
- What type of patients do you have? Financial status in life. Their attitude towards dental care. Their compliance rate. How many percent of your patients you want to keep versus you want to let go? How many refers you to others?
- What's your average on repeat customers?
- How long do they come back for dental check-up? Or, do they? What's the average time?
Write down the kind of patients you have by average and what you would like to have? Do you prefer quantity versus quality of patients?
4. Evaluate What You Currently Do To Market Your Dental Services
- Do you have promotions and often give discounts?
- Do you only accept cash or your clinic accept credit card?
- Do you have online presence like website or any social network page that your market can see the kind of practice you have?
- Do you document your cases? Have before and after photos of your treatments?
Write down all the things you do for your dental clinic to be known by your target market.
5. Evaluate Yourself and Your Personnel
- Are you a general practitioner or have you taken specialized training or post-graduate courses?
- How do you and your personnel communicate with your patients personally, via phone or via e-mail?
- What's the common feedback you receive from your patients about your dental treatments? What's your batting average between those who like your dental services versus those who complains?
- Do your staff encourage more patients into your practice rather than lose them?
Write down honestly all the great traits you have as a dental practitioner and what you think needs to be improved. Do the same with your personnel if you have them.
SET YOUR GOALS TO ACHIEVE YOUR TARGET MARKET
1. Honest Assessment
By doing the first step, you can now clearly see what you currently have and what you want to have. All the things you want to have and improve can be definitely achieved if you put your heart and mind to it. You just have to be crystal clear on what your goals are, what you are willing to give to achieve them and how long do you want to reach your goals. With clarity comes a definitive plan.
2. Positive Approach
As we've mentioned on the previous post, proper perspective and mindset are the key ingredients to make anything impossible possible because it gives you positive attitude on how to implement your plans in order to reach your clear goals. Do not be afraid to fail because failures are indications for points of improvements or change. People who are not afraid to fail thrive in business rather than those who remain afraid. As they say, "No guts, No glory".
3. Define Your Target Market
Base on your analysis and assessment on # 1, what is your current market and who do you want to target? "Everything is Marketing" as the author, Fred Joyal said on the title of his book. So, if you want a specific market to target, then, everything must be done in accordance to what that market preferred or demands. The changes or improvements you need to implement on your dental practice can be as banal as the smell of your clinic, the color scheme, the way you take patient's history, your forms, your furnishings, and even the name of your clinic. It has to be in tune to your target market.
SIMPLE TECHNIQUES TO MARKET YOUR CLINIC
You don't have to spend so much money to initially spruce up your practice and do simple marketing and advertising to ethically promote your clinic.
(a) If you need to change the name of your dental clinic for easy recall and can express a dependable clinical practice, then, do so.
(b) Improve your facility. As mentioned, the smell and color scheme greatly affects the mood of your patients when they enter your clinic. Make sure your reception speaks for the kind of patients you want to have. It should immediately give a statement of what you want to attract similar to how we categorize the shops we go to depending on our budget. We automatically know that if you go to Power Plant, Rockwell in the Philippines or Nordstrom in the US that the prices of the goods won't be cheap and you can't haggle versus going to Divisoria or Greenhills Shopping Mall in the Philippines and Target in the US, where the prices will be cheap and you can definitely haggle on the price. Another thing, one of the areas I always check in anywhere I go is the restroom facility. This also speaks volume on the kind of dental practice you have especially in practicing infection control.
(c) Improve your equipment and materials you use in your dental practice. This means not just buying quality or expensive equipment but optimizing its function and use. This require you and your staff to fully learn on how to properly use and maintain any equipment or tools of your trade you acquire for your dental clinic. One of the trade secrets I've learned in my 30 years of practice is that I attend product presentation seminars that's generally avoided by dentists. Why? The mindset of most dentists is that the distributor is just going to sell them products. I, on the other hand, don't think that way. When I want to buy something especially if it is quite an expensive investment, I attend almost all product presentations related to the equipment or material I want to purchase because who is best to know this product I want to buy, it's the manufacturers themselves. I compare and study which one will be best suitable to my practice. If I am too lazy to attend, another trade secret is I build a loyal and respectable relationships with the sales representatives who visit my clinic. They are the best source to provide you the proper information including promotions and best deals if you treat them well and pay your purchases on time. You will be amazed on how much you can save money and time that will in the end improve your dental services because you use the right equipment, instruments and materials in your dental practice coming from the honest tips and advice of your loyal dental sales representatives.
(d) Improve your and your staff manner of communication. Communication means not only the words you speak but your body language as well. Everything that comes out from you and your staff whether verbally or not speaks volume to your patients. How many opportunities you lose because your receptionist, for example, doesn't know how to handle inquires? A simple phone call of inquiry can generate you appointments. In non-verbal communications, how many patients do you lose because you or your staff have bad hygiene like how you smell or present yourself? These are simple things you can improve without costing you so much. What's the point of advertising if the manner on how you all communicate already fails to deliver your AD?
(e) Improve your and your staff skills and management. You need to continually learn on how to deliver your dental services at the most optimum way your target market demands. You should attend seminars and workshops not only to earn CPD or CE units but to really improve your skills as a dentist. While your staff must learn how to manage your patients, your facility and your appointments. There's nothing more annoying than the frequent habit of doctors and dentists to schedule so many patients without managing properly the time of appointments. This becomes an expected habit of dental and medical clinics but it doesn't necessarily means it's right. If your time is valuable to you, then, so does to others. Time management is a critical marketing strategy that builds respect between you and your patients.
ADVERTISING IS A MUST NOT AN OPTION
Dentists have this bad notion about advertising. They think it is unethical and ambulance chasing. But, honestly, how can your market know you exists if you don't advertise. There are a lot of method of advertising that one can deliver without making it look cheap and degrading to our profession. Here are some of ways you can advertise and still be professional about it:
(a) Building an online presence is one way of advertising your dental practice. Depending on your budget you can hire a professional developer to create a website for you. If you feel this is too expensive then have a static website built. Or, you can even build it yourself. There are so many free platforms available for you to build a simple website, you just have to research, study and learn how to do it. It may not be easy to others but it can certainly be learned. In fact, DMD Center's website was built by yours truly. I didn't hire a developer to create it for me. However, as this website is becoming too active and needs to handle near 900 members, it is now time to have a professional rebuild it for me. This can also be applied on your end, you can build one and, then, later just improve and replace it by hiring a professional when you have the budget for it.
(b) Using social media platform. This is the cheapest and most effective way of advertising your dental practice. Create a Facebook page or build a YouTube channel. Use these platforms as an informative tool to educate your market as well as advertise you dental services.
(c) Using e-mail blasts. You can promote your services or invite your target market through sending e-mail blasts. Just to be clear, don't send spams but utilized e-mail campaigns that give information about your special offers or events.
(d) Participate in your community activities. You can sponsor events or charities that not only advertises your dental clinic but also help others. Building a good relationship to your immediate community allows you to advertise your practice while creating good interactions with your target market outside your dental clinic. It is hitting 2 birds with 1 stone so to speak.
(e) Joining in non-dental organizations. We have to be diverse and inclusive in our way of life. So, as professionals we need to be active in other social activities. Being a member of non-dental organizations and being active on them allows us to meet our specific target market as well as provide us relief from our work. By joining organizations with the target market you want to create in your clinic will allow you to advertise yourself and your services with the right audience.
(f) Give special promotions in tune with a special event. Never be a price-driven practice because price is a reflection on your value as a professional. Your prices must be in equal or in greater proportion to the value of your services. If you reach the expectations of your patients in the treatments that you do, majority will remain loyal to your services. Price only becomes an issue if the value of the services are not met. Thus, giving special promotions like gifts or discounts during Christmas or Opening of your clinic shows more value to it rather than be known as an "always" discount service dental facility. Give your target market the life style need rather than the utility need (read Part 1 post) and your once in awhile promotional discounts will have more impact in advertising your dental services.
These are just some ways wherein you can advertise your dental services and still maintain the decorum of being a professionals. I'm still a believer that advertising is a necessity for us to thrive and not just survive and can only be in bad taste depending on how it was delivered
Bottom line is we need to be aware that marketing our dental services is in everything we do, act and practice in our dental clinic. It reflects in every little thing we practice while we deliver our dental services. And, even if word of mouth is still the best advertising method, the world is changing, so, your target market is also evolving. We need to be in tune with the times if you want to succeed in your dental profession.
Dr. Jean Galindez - Writer and Editor
ID 139438956 © Pawel Talajkowski | Dreamstime.com
[dvk_social_sharing] [et_bloom_inline optin_id="optin_1"]