You know you’re a great dentist. But if you don’t get the word out, you won’t attract patients. You need them, whether you’re just starting a new practice or you want to grow an existing one. And you’re in a highly competitive profession – one where personal touch means as much as your expertise. Marketing for dental practices must set you apart.
To be successful, you’ll need to use a variety of techniques. These days, the foundation of marketing for dental practices is located online, although there are numerous offline methods you should still incorporate to build your brand within the community and reach out to new patients.
Online marketing helps you get found by prospects, turn them into patients, encourage them to return and solicit referrals from patients and colleagues. It starts with a website that is informative, up-to-date and easy to use. From there you can branch out, using other online techniques proven to enhance marketing for dental practices.
As a local business, you should be concerned about two types of SEO. Overall, you need a steady supply of high quality, original content to “feed” search engines and rank higher in search results. You can create your own content and also link to relevant content from other sources. The more you talk about a particular subject (one of your areas of expertise), the more you are likely to be found by someone looking for that type of information.
Beyond that, there are certain things you must do to gain maximum local attention:
- Make sure your name, address and phone number are listed precisely the same, everywhere, otherwise you may water down your SEO
- Claim all your local listings for Google My Business, Bing and Yahoo plus CitySearch and other local directories. The more listings you have, the more it helps your search results ranking. An easy way to find directories is to search for “dentists in (your town)” and note each one that appears in the results. Add the correct categories and fill out your profile in detail. The more helpful your listings are, the better.
- Make sure you’re listed on key review sites like Yelp or Angie’s List, too.
Check out our local SEO audit article to learn more.
Blogging drives traffic to your website. Provide helpful information to gain a reputation as a valuable resource – dental care tips, industry news, links to interesting or informative videos or articles. Promote your blog via your website, social media and follow-up emails to patients. Invite guest posts from other types of dental specialists, and offer to do the same for them to broaden your exposure.
Being social enables you to listen and learn as well as promote your practice. LinkedIn is a must for every dentist — you can connect with colleagues to learn from them, share your knowledge and acquire more referral partners. Facebook enables you to connect with patients and prospects, to generate new leads and boost patient loyalty.
Marketing for dental practices should also include Pinterest. Are you surprised? Pinterest is now used by a broad spectrum of small businesses. Users are still primarily female, and studies show that women make the healthcare decisions in a hefty majority of families. If you aren’t familiar with Pinterest, check out our board that shows a wealth of clever dental marketing tactics. Use Pinterest Places to map your practice, too.
Many dentists rely on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms, too. Social media only works if you work it, so pick the ones most relevant to your patient profile(s) so you don’t spread yourself too thin.
Use social media posts to start conversations or answer general questions about healthy smiles, pose questions or hold contests that generate response and sharing, tweet to offer last-minute openings in your schedule post a photo of your patient’s first big braces-just-off smile.
Video and photos
There’s nothing like a short video to explain dental procedures in a way that educates and allays fears. Displaying before and after photos that show happy patients also helps overcome fears and literally shows off your great results. Who wouldn’t want to choose you for that same procedure? These visuals can be included on your website, shared via YouTube, linked to social media posts and emails and displayed in your waiting room.
Convert prospects into patients by offering a monthly special discount on your home page, via social media or email and converting special landing pages for those offers. Or convert website visitors into hot leads by offering educational downloads in return for their email address
Encourage patients to post reviews or provide testimonials and quote them on your website and in your marketing. Your prospects rely on reviews to make decisions, and search engines rank higher if you have enough reviews.
A monthly newsletter allows you to stay in touch (and top of mind) with prospects and current patients, with tips for maintaining a healthy smile, “breaking news” about your practice or the dental industry, a link to a recent blog article or a special offer.
You can target a local audience for Facebook ads, you can also take advantage of pay-per-click advertising such as Google AdWords.
Use modern technology to monitor and manage your marketing.
Dental-specific business management software that enables you to track patient data and content management software that enables you to coordinate, publish and track your marketing efforts streamline your work, keep you consistent and give you data to analyze results so you can be most effective.
Ultimately, even the most strategically planned and creatively implemented marketing for dental practices will fail unless you back it up with superior one-on-one patient relationships. Allow patients to schedule appointments online – it’s more convenient for them and saves your staff time. And remember that your entire team, from the receptionist and hygienist to your bookkeeper must make every patient feel welcome and comfortable, every time.