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Too many dentists are caught in a revolving door syndrome. New patients come in, have a minimal amount of work done, and disappear. There’s no patient loyalty, no effort to refer other patients, and minimal return for your marketing investment.
Done properly, dentistry shouldn’t be a catch-and-release sport. You need patients who will stay, pay, and refer to grow your practice and fund your retirement.
Part of the reason you’re catching the wrong “fish” is that you’re probably using the wrong bait. The vast majority of dentists market their practices on price, specials, discounts, and availability. It follows that they attract people who are motivated by those offers, not because they’re interested in finding the best dentist to care for them and their teeth.
The situation is even worse if you’re in a highly competitive market. With many dentists advertising in the same way for the same pool of patients, you can expect one or both of two things: your monthly marketing expenditure will go up, or the number of new patients will go down. Advertising on price is a race to the bottom that only the practices with the deepest pockets will win.
And if you have corporate dentistry in your area, the situation can be dire. Those “discount” patients are exactly who corporate targets, and the chains have better marketing budgets than you can hope to match.
If you want better fish, you need to use better bait.
In any given market, about 20 percent of dental prospects have the discretionary income to pay more for a dentist who they like, relate to, and trust. Of those three factors, trust is probably the most important.
Dentists today are viewed as interchangeable commodities. That’s hard for most dentists to hear, but it’s the truth. Very few dental prospects understand or care about the difference between a DDS and a DMD. Even fewer can appreciate the fine differences between postgraduate training programs.
To become a trusted dentist to your prospects, you have to give them reasons to regard you as a caring, concerned expert. This isn’t soundbite territory; you won’t become the trusted dental expert through print ads in newspapers or postcard campaigns.
The internet is the ideal marketing medium to reach your better prospects. 90 percent of people begin their search for a dentist online these days, so that’s where you have to meet them. Your website can and should convey a great deal of information about you, your practice, and how you treat your patients. Then again, so does every other dentist’s website.
So, to attract those patients who will stay, pay, and refer, you need to have a much stronger web presence than your competitors. Social media, a blog that focuses on providing expert answers to prospects’ dental problems, and glowing patient reviews on independent sites such as Yelp and HealthGrades will help set you apart from being “just another dentist.”
Ideally, every part of your practice marketing will work to convey the same impression: that you are the only logical choice to solve your prospects’ dental problems. Once you’ve achieved that status, you’ll find that your “catch” is improved tremendously.