If you’re frustrated with the results of your marketing efforts, you’re not alone. Our long experience with dental practices has shown that, while most dentists want more patients, more profits and more freedom, the way they’re going about their marketing isn’t going to get them what they want.
SmartBox has found that the mistakes dentists make with their marketing fall largely into six broad categories.
- Trying to be everything to everybody.
Walmart doesn’t market to high-end buyers because their value proposition is built largely around low prices. And Lexus doesn’t do “everyman” advertising because they’re a high-end brand. Similarly, it’s tough to position yourself as the budget dentist who also offers outstanding full-mouth reconstructions. Or the super-expert who just happens to offer teeth whitening.
- Failing to define the kinds of patients that will make them successful.
So what are you doing with your marketing? Have you defined your ideal patients, the ones YOU want to attract and who will provide you with the kind of patients and cases you want and need? There’s no single answer that will fit every practice. And, your ideal patients have to be available in your market. If you’re in an area with a high percentage of older people, specializing in braces may not be a winning move. And young people, barring accidents, don’t have much use for implants.
- Not defining themselves internally and externally, i.e., a unique selling proposition.
I’ve probably talked this idea to death. And yet, it bears repeating: you must give prospective patients reasons to choose your practice over the competition. That means defining what you do better than your competition, which might include certain procedures but can just as well be the kind of experiences patients have when they visit your practice.
- Taking a scattershot approach to marketing.
You’ve defined your ideal patients; good. Now, what’s the best way to reach them? If you’re focusing on attracting younger patients, you wouldn’t put a significant amount of your marketing dollars into newspaper advertising; younger people these days get their information online. Matching the medium to the target audience requires some research and planning; without taking those steps, you’re throwing money up against the wall to see what sticks.
- Expecting instant gratification.
When your new patient numbers are down and the bottom line is taking a hit, it’s all too tempting to spend a large chunk of money on local advertising. That may get you some new patients this month, but what about next month? Then again, not all ad campaigns are equally successful, and that can mean significant capital outlay without much return.
- Not allowing time for their marketing to mature in their market.
Keeping a steady stream of new patients is a long-term proposition that requires discipline and a considered approach on your part. If you’ve decided that you want to be the choice for certain people; if you’ve identified your ideal patients; if you’ve defined your unique selling proposition; if you’ve done your research into the best media to reach your audience; and if you’re willing to invest in a long-term approach and wait for your marketing to work, you should begin seeing steady results.
The absolute best way to accomplish all of the above is to set up a patient attraction system, one that works 24/7/365 to attract the patients you want. An effective system requires considerable expertise in a number of fairly technical aspects of marketing.
SmartBox Web Marketing works exclusively with select dental practices to help them realize more patients, more profits and more freedom. To see the results that our industry-leading Patient Attraction System™ has achieved for hundreds of your peers across the country, click here.