The Why And The How In Marketing Your Dental Practice
According to Wikipedia, Marketing is defined as the process by which companies create value for customers and build strong customer relationships, in order to capture value from customers in return. While according to dental creed, the deep-rooted meaning of practice of dentistry is service. Like any other profession that deals with health care, service is supposedly the ethical and moral definition of our profession. Well, that's true and great, but, we can't also dispute the fact that the manner of delivery and implementation of our profession also ties up with our financial capacity to do so. Just the cost of our education, investment on our equipment and putting up our clinic can already cost an arm and a leg that may tie us up in unspeakable financial bind right up to the next decade. So, setting aside, other factors to consider, we need to admit that we just can't afford not to market our dental practice in order to survive. So, here's a simple guide on how to do it:
(1) Set a Goal
- Create a simple business plan. What are the mission, vision and goal of your clinic? What do you intend to mainly practice in it? Is it general dentistry? Or, do you have a specific specialization you want to practice?
- Identify your target market. This will define the location you want to set up your dental clinic, the look and feel of your place, the things you need to buy and the pricing of your services.
- Create a name for your clinic. This is branding. Choose something simple and easy to recall. You can create a logo that will represent what your clinic stands for.
- Attend seminars and product presentation events. A lot of dentists shy away from attending product presentation seminars. I don't know why? Maybe because it looks like a hard sell for the majority. But, for me, knowing what the product can deliver, how I can use and maximize it to make my dental practice better are important stuff to know before I even consider buying or asking for its price.
(2) Create A Budget
- Knowing your goals and what you and your clinic stand for will enable you to create an idea on how to make your practice relevant and be noticed within the budget you set forth.
- Change on how you think about marketing. True it is an expense but if you do it right, it truly is an investment.
- Knowing your budget will allow you to streamline what you can do on your own and when you'll need a professional help.
- Create projections. Identify your cost versus income it can generate for you.
(3) Plan Strategies
- Traditionally, marketing in dental profession is done best by word of mouth. It is still the best tool to market our profession notwithstanding that this method stands in good stead to a lot of those who are righteous when it comes down to it. However, it doesn't mean doing other things are wrong.
- Another traditional way, is creating brochures, pamphlets, flyers and calling cards.
- We are living in the 21st century, but, it seems, a lot is still need to be understood by the dental community especially by the associations that holds us in line and not to go astray from being respected professionals to ambulance chasers. Having said that, we have to consider, especially, if you have the means, to consider media. Marketing a business through media is definitely an effective way. Media certainly can deliver in informing the public that you do exist and that they have a need for your services. However, there is a very thin line that binds us on how to use media within the boundaries of us being a professional versus a commodity.
- Create an online presence. I believe this is the most effective way nowadays to make your presence felt to your market. The cost depends on you. It can be free up to the most very expensive. You can use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter to subtly market yourself, the best part of it is... it is for free. Instead of posting what you ate for lunch today, why not post tips on how people should take care of their teeth, post improvements going on in your clinic, show pictures of your office, or inform the public for promotions you maybe giving for this month, things like that. If you felt uneasy doing it because you much prefer sharing your most private and intimate events of your life, then, create a website. Having a website is truly easy. You can have it for free or spend a bit of money to have professionals do it for you. There are truly a lot of ways to do it if you want to have a website. WordPress, Joomla, Wix, to name a few can be done for free. You just have to research and learn it, one step at a time. It took me 3 months to learn it but it was well worth it. I learned a lot from doing it on my own. But, if you do have a budget for it and just didn't want to take the time to learn and do it, a simple static website will not cost you a lot.
If we rely on word-of-mouth marketing, then, this will be only effective if your market have something good to talk about your dental practice. Presentation is the overall first impression of your would be patients and even to your current and actual patients. Although, majority of whether they have something good to say about your practice depends on the final result of your treatment with them, you still need to bring first these people to your doorstep. That's foot traffic. How can you have good and successful treatment if you can't convince them to be your dentist in the first place? The core of presentation really starts with you in terms of how you will influence the brand of your dental practice. However, the successful implementation of this can be seen first and foremost with your staff. Your staff is the key on how you will have more patients and this can be achieved by properly training them even to the minutest detail of answering a phone call. In my online course I finished in marketing, it states there that more than 50% of possible patients are lost during phone inquiry and follow-up. So, we have to make sure that our staff is as we want them to be in handling your clients. Cleanliness, ambiance of your dental clinic and the things they see in your clinic are also critical. This somehow adds to their willingness to have you as their dentist. And, of course, the most significant in the presentation is YOU. Your way of handling your patients before and after gives an added value to what they pay for. Even if your price is a bit higher than your competitors if your presentation convince your patients that you are worthy for the price, then, you have absolutely achieved the correct marketing in terms of presentation and expect referrals. That's should be your basis of a successful marketing and treatment implementation.
(5) Have The Right Attitude
Most of the time having the right attitude in doing things goes a long way than having a lot of money. Sure, money can solve almost 98% of the time our problems, but, it is also a fact that most of the time, that 2% remaining that we can't solve with money, is the reason why we fail. Marketing your profession is more than half of the time having the right attitude. Right attitude in life particularly in our profession is I think the most effective marketing tool we can use. Having the right and positive attitude within you reflects to others; and who we are and what we represent as a person and professional is the best billboard in advertising your profession. So, when you speak and people listen, then, you are already inadvertently marketing your services.
There are certainly a lot of ways on how we can market our professional services within the means and bounds you are comfortable with. You can do it without losing your dignity as a professional and a lot of money. What is important is to make an effort to do it because no matter how great you are as a dentist if nobody knows that, then, you are literally depriving the public to have an informed choice as to where the best place to go to for their dental needs.
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