Marketing is key to the success of any business, and attracting new patients is vital in order for any medical or dental practice to grow. A single practitioner should be seeing between 25–50 new patients per month. And this is where a solid marketing plan comes into play.
A useful first step is always a SWOT analysis session. Evaluating your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is invaluable in helping you to understand both your proposition and your positioning.
- Strengths: What sets your practice apart from others in your area? List every strength and USP you can think about to ensure your practice stands out from the competition.
- Weaknesses: evaluate customer feedback honestly and critically. See these as obstacles you are able to recognise and put a plan in place to overcome.
- Opportunities: Where will growth come from? Evaluate each item to determine what you can take advantage of and how.
- Threats: Are there any issues your practice may have to anticipate, prepare for and defend against?
Once you have established where your dental practice is positioned, you’ll be able to determine which dental marketing ideas will help secure a successful future.
Patient referral schemes
For an established dental or medical practice, more than 70% of new patients should come from current patient referrals. How do you keep your practice front of mind and encourage your customers to spread the word and tell others about your services?
Referral schemes ideal for engaging with and encouraging current customers help you in attracting new patients. Offer current customers incentives to refer others to your practice. Leave referral cards on the reception desk, put into mailers or send electronically via your email database.
Identify your target audience
Women make more than 90% of most family buying decisions. They are looking for a service, not just a product, and in today’s market they have plenty of choice. Women want information before they purchase so when creating marketing collateral for your dental or medical practice, be sure consider what you want to say and how to say it. Know your demographic and how to speak in their language.
As with anything in life- first impressions count, but what truly makes a lasting impression? What can you offer patients at your clinic which will make a lasting impression on them and encourage them to tell their friends about you and visit you again? Ensure staff on reception are warm, friendly and engaging. Encourage a relaxing, anxiety free environment by offering hot or cold drinks, welcome distractions such as up to date, quality reading material and look after families with quality toys and books for children. A selection of toiletries in the restrooms is often neglected but can make all the difference between a standard visit or a more welcoming one.
If a potential new patient Googles you, what will they find? Do you have a Google+ account? Are there reviews of your business online and what do they say? Having no reviews at all speaks volumes so encourage your customers to leave reviews via your email newsletters or social media profiles by offering prize draws, discounts etc for those who take the time to write one for you.
Know your local area
The most effective primary target audience for Attracting new patients consists of the neighbourhoods and consumers that live within close proximity of your business. It is therefore imperative that your dental practice has a positive community image.
Get involved in the local community by attending and sponsoring events, get involved in local community and charity initiatives and extend your network via local business networking groups. Get your practice name out there and tell people who you are, what you are about!
Ensure your team live and breathe your vision
If you asked each member of your practice what the business vision was, would they be able to answer? Do they share your passion for finding new customers and growing the practice? Does your team understand the value of your business and the services that you offer? Do they know what the practice USP’s are?
Remember, the person who answers the phone at your practice is the practice to a new patient caller. Their enthusiasm about you, your practice and the services you offer could make or break your customer retention rates.
Ensure that everyone in the business understands the messaging you are putting out into your market area, and can answer patient questions about offers and treatments.
Creative ways of attracting new patients should be a continual exercise, so get your team involved and review your SWOT analysis over and over again and see those new customers walk through the door!