Having conducted some recent research into dentists’ behaviour with regard to patient marketing, we were interested to discover that although there was a clear desire to improve marketing amongst dental professionals (89.4%), there was also a lack of knowledge of how to plan and execute campaigns. Our findings revealed that over 77% had no plan for how to improve their marketing and only 12% were regularly communicating with patients.
These statistics led us to develop what we refer to as the “10 Laws of Patient Marketing”. These ‘laws’ are designed to help dentists navigate their way through the often complex, but nevertheless critical area of patient marketing, which is vital if practices are to successfully educate their existing patients and attract new ones.
Law #1 Know Your ‘Why’
When we talk about identifying the ‘why’ we are referring to those things that differentiate your practice from others in a crowded and competitive marketplace. Using this perspective helps focus campaigns around patient benefits rather than treatment features. Answering the ‘why’ question is important because it is this which drives the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of marketing.
Law #2 Know What You Want
Once the ‘why’ has been defined, the next step is to clearly articulate what you want to achieve. The aim of any marketing and communication plan is to drive the success of a business. But ‘success’ can be very different for different people and understanding what success looks like in your circumstances enables you to develop plans and strategies with a clear focus.
Law #3 Know Your Patient Numbers
Practice management systems contain huge amounts of valuable data about all aspects of a dental practice and knowing total patient numbers and importantly the numbers of patients being lost and gained each month is vital. In the same way knowing how many patients you need to acquire in order to grow is an important metric for measuring success.
Law #4 Get to the Top of Google
Evidence suggests that internet searches work in one of two ways: either by locally searching for a dentist in a specific geographical area or by directly searching for a practice by name. The former is most likely to be conducted by prospective patients who have no preference for a particular practice, whilst a direct search suggests that the prospect has received some form of practice communication, or possibly a personal recommendation. Ensuring your website is optimised to take best advantage of both these opportunities should be an integral part of every practice’s digital strategy.
Law #5 “Own” Your Google Search
Once your practice has reached page one of Google the work is not over. Once there you must dominate the search results page, and the role played in this by Google reviews is crucial. Businesses that reach the top of Google without reviews are easily overshadowed by those who may be in 4th or 5th place but have a number of four or five-star reviews.
Law #6 Target the Right Patients at the Right Time
Ensuring your messages resonate with patients at the time when they are most receptive is key to achieving positive results. For example, marketing dental implants to patients with missing teeth or those with dentures is more likely to be successful in terms of enquiries, consultations and ultimately treatment uptake, than targeting your entire patient base.
Law #7 Balance Promotional Messages with Education
It’s important that as dental professionals, you do not lose sight of the educational aspects of a dentist’s role. Tempering special offers and promotional messages with those that educate and inform is far from counter-productive. Achieving this balance is likely to result in better patient engagement and treatment acceptance, and is more likely to give a greater return on investment in the long run.
Law #8 Know it’s Happening. Automate
Just as with automated recalls, which are now second nature for the majority of practices, the ability to automate marketing campaigns is a really useful tool. Automating the sending of campaigns means that managers can ‘set and forget’ within EXACT, knowing that once created, the software will run the campaign as required, automatically.
Law # 9 Know What’s Working… and What’s Not!
EXACT practice management system provides data on the success of campaigns and enables managers to analyse results. This allows managers to identify at which stage of the process the communication might have broken down; providing important knowledge that helps support future improvement.
Law #10 Know your ROI
Return on Investment (ROI) is a cornerstone of assessing marketing success. Unfortunately, few practitioners have the knowledge required to fully understand their ROI and over 75% either do not measure success or do so only occasionally, leaving many to rely on ‘gut feeling’ to assess the success of a campaign. The reluctance to measure ROI is due to the fact that dentists feel they do not have access to the appropriate tools to enable them to accurately analyse success.
By using the tools in EXACT V12, practices can become more successful, not only by making their internal processes more efficient, but also by ensuring that their marketing messages are relevant, targeted and tracked. This is having a significant impact on revenue generation and ensuring that the opportunity presented by digital visibility is well and truly exploited.