Dentistry is big business in Britain, but how can your practice earn a bigger piece of this £5.73 billion industry? If you want to increase your patient numbers and your earning potential, marketing makes a lot of sense. Advertising is an unfamiliar world for many dental practitioners, but you don't need a university degree to do it right.
Practice Target Marketing
The expense of traditional marketing turns many dental practices off advertising. Target marketing offers these businesses a more economically efficient solution.
Practices can obtain marketing databases containing a list of names, addresses, and key demographic features for their local area. Dentists can use these lists to market to the people they're interested in attracting. For example, a practice focusing on cosmetic dentistry might prefer to drop flyers in the mailboxes of baby boomers with annual incomes of more than $100,000. In contrast, a family practice may like to send brochures to couples with children who've recently moved into the local area.
You'll spend your advertising dollars more wisely by only distributing marketing materials to people you feel will be interested in them.
Use the Web
The days of people picking up the phone book to find a local business are all but over. Today, 85 percent of consumers prefer to get online instead. So if you don't have an Internet presence, potential patients will pass you by.
Online directory websites might list your details, but these offer very little information to convince patients to visit you. A simple name, address, and phone number also won’t make a compelling case, and customer reviews aren't always favourable.
In contrast, a website can create just the right image for your practice. Ensure it contains useful information, like contact details, office hours, procedures performed, and insurance and payment details. A personal biography can add personality while an online booking facility can give your practice a competitive edge.
Also consider creating social network accounts for promoting special offers and dental hygiene tips.
It might seem counterintuitive to offer cheaper services to make more money, but discounting your rates is a great way to bring new patients to your practice. Dental treatment in England is more expensive than anywhere else in Europe, so cutting costs is a great way to separate yourself from local competition -- and stem the tide of health tourism.
For example, offer a reduced rate on teeth whitening to entice new patients through the door. Set this offer for a limited time to inspire the public to act quickly. Do a good job on this cosmetic procedure, and your new customers will be more likely to think of you when they have a toothache. Bundling a range of procedures together is another great way to give customers added value. View this breakdown of NHS dental pricing to see what others are charging to determine a reasonable cost plan.
A 2010 study found that just four percent of people in the United Kingdom trust advertising, and nine percent believe what a company says about itself. However, the statistics improved when people were asked about the opinions of others. Forty percent of respondents said they trusted the recommendations of family and friends; 28 percent trusted professional reviews; and 19 percent trusted the independent reviews they read on websites. The message is clear: The public might not believe what you say about the practice, but they'll trust what others say.
Ask your customers to complete satisfaction surveys, making it clear that their comments count and may be published. You might give away a small prize, like movie tickets, to encourage this. Once you've collected some great testimonials, publish them wherever you can. These endorsements can make websites, and print, radio, and television advertisements much more compelling.
Keep Patients Coming Back
A study by the UK Adult Dental Health Survey showed that almost half of British adults are moderately to extremely afraid of the dentist. With so many patients struggling with nerves, they'll need your encouragement to book an appointment. Set up a database that alerts your secretarial staff when patients should return for a check-up. Send out reminders via mail or email to ensure your patients keep on coming back.
Get out of your comfort zone and embrace dental marketing to help your practice grow.