Most entrepreneurs go into business because they love their chosen profession. Chefs believe their menus will have crowds knocking on their doors at all hours. Tech consultants know how to fix problems that baffle ordinary mortals. Doctors and dentists like the science and craft of helping people become healthier.
Sooner rather than later, the reality is beating down their doors instead. Health inspectors are hostile, customers are unwilling to pay a fair price, or patients are impatient with waiting for results from lifestyle changes. Everything from trying to find good employees to legal issues bedevils most startups long after they’ve launched. Doctors of all types often find their work physically and emotionally stressful and soon try to transfer as many of the tasks as possible to assistants.
A very common reason a new business changes from a dream to a nightmare is that entrepreneurs imagine their virtues will be enough to generate positive word of mouth, so they don’t have to do much marketing. Underestimating the need for a strong, continuous program to recruit new customers is a big factor in why 30% of companies fail in their first two years and another 30% in three more years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
These are some of the keys to more effective marketing for dentists and doctors who are early in their careers, but also apply to those who are well-established and think being on marketing cruise control is adequate for continuing success.
Tip 1: Start with a Base of Patients
Finding new patients will take patience in integrated marketing to build up a practice, so it is better to start by buying a current practice at a reasonable price. “I worked as an associate for nine months before I bought the practice, so I could get to know its patients, understand the neighborhood, and study the competitors,” said Dr. Igal Elyassi, owner of Wilshire Smile Studio in Hollywood, CA. “I envisioned it as a multi-specialty office so that it would appeal to a much larger potential group of patients when I began my own marketing.”
Tip 2: Hire for Attitude and Aptitude
Success is much more likely if the business starts by hiring people who really care for patients, get along well with workmates, are reliable, work hard, and eager to learn. You can train the right people for greater technical skills. Compensate them better than competitors and treat them well, so they will love coming to work. Happy employees make your practice much easier to market.
Tip 3: Build a Brand of Uncompromising Quality
Dental and medical practices thrive largely on a population that has increased health needs and a desire for cosmetic enhancement. Many of the 76 million Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 75) and 82 million Gen-Xers (40-54) refuse to accept traditional definitions of aging. They often have good jobs and pensions, a willingness to research who can provide high-quality services at a reasonable price, as well as a reputation for ethics, trustworthiness, and caring. Targeting these prospects should be central to any marketing plan.
Tip 4: Optimize Your Website
Many established medical and dental offices think that because they have significantly not changed what they do, there is no need to refresh their websites. But business success today is increasingly driven by online research before any phone call is made and you need to have a site that is visually appealing and functionally easy to use. The best doctors make sure:
- Someone has gone through every part of the site to assess if the information is accurate and up-to-date, while descriptions of procedures and services are clear.
- An email address is provided, rather than forcing visitors to fill out a form, which may have a word limit and not allow them to attach photos or videos.
- It is obvious how to write a review (and that criticism receives quick responses).
- The site is free of too much material crowding the screen, long testimonial videos, too much duplication in blog topics, etc.
- The site has buttons to make it easy to share on social media
It is optimized to be accessed by mobile phones.
Tip 5: Make Sure Your Site Content is Original and Well-Written
“Google gives the highest search rank to sites, in part, that have the most valuable content for consumers, which is exclusive to each site and not syndicated,” said Isaac Rau of Proactive
Too many dentists and doctors think their good reputations have been well-established and that is enough to keep them thriving. Smart practitioners at all stages in their careers need to invest in a search-optimized content marketing strategy.
Tip 6: Integrated Marketing Means Using All Media
Doctors of all types realize they should have a social media presence, but finding enough time to do it right is a challenge at most practices. Others may put sufficient attention on Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter, but are likely to be neglecting other aspects of a total marketing program
The full spectrum could include:
- Emailed newsletters.
- Printed brochures.
- Ads in print media.
- Articles on local websites.
- Texted offers.
- Cable TV ads and the doctor’s appearances on local shows.
- Public speaking engagements.
- Ads on movie screens.
- Exchanging cards with local businesses.
- Tables at community events.
Tip 7: Deploy Visual Media in Your Marketing and Education
Dentists and physicians are articulate in explaining why certain therapies are important but may underestimate the need to use visual methods for patients who learn best this way. Likewise, it may be counterintuitive to post on social media which are primarily visual and might not be thought of as a way to convince prospects for healthcare.
But Instagram is second only to Facebook in its reach in the U.S., with an estimated 113 million users, while 90% of those on the Internet ages 18-44 watch YouTube videos, and even 51% of those online who are over 75. The types of posts that can be effective in attracting and educating patients include before-and-after close-ups of cosmetic work, a filmed tour of the office, videotaped testimonials, and demonstrations of proper brushing and flossing.
If you don’t think you have time to invest in implementing a marketing plan, you are allowing competitors a free ride in persuading naive patients that they can do the same quality of work you provide at a much lower price.
Patient with Dentist -DepositPhotos