People who enjoy fishing know that certain kinds of lures and baits are better suited for attracting certain kinds of fish. There’s a lesson here for dentists.
Most dentists advertise their practices the way that dentists have for decades. They offer low prices, specials, and discounts. Those are the bait, or the lure, in their marketing. And just as with fishing, only a certain type of patient will bite. That type of prospect is generally price-driven, insurance-driven, or a one-and-done patient with relatively low case value.
But when it comes to attracting the new patients you need to keep your practice going, and hopefully growing, you’re essentially doing subsistence fishing. You’re fishing to live. And if you’re fishing for huge tuna but using bait that only mackerel will respond to, you’ll have to do a lot of fishing just to stay alive. It takes a lot of mackerel to make a meal.
Enough with the fishing metaphor. You’re marketing to attract the wrong patients. Potentially, you risk starving your dental practice.
What Do Your Better Dental Prospects Want?
If you’re going to attract the patients who will stay, pay, and refer, you need to market to those people. The dental needs of this group of “better” patients are probably almost identical to the other 80 percent of your market. What’s different is that the 20 percent have the ability and the willingness to pay more for a dentist who they like, trust, and consider a dental expert.
These better patients aren’t interested in quick-fix, low-cost solutions to their dental problems. They want to establish a relationship with a dentist and a dental practice that offer them a superior patient experience and better outcomes. When it comes to attracting these patients, it’s crucial to establish trust and position yourself as a likeable dentist via your online marketing. That’s an area where far too many dentists fall short.
You won’t accomplish that through newspaper ads and postcard campaigns. There simply isn’t enough “real estate” to convey your personality and the patient experience available through your practice. Besides, your prospects aren’t looking for a dentist in the mail or the newspaper. Today, 90 percent of dental prospects begin their search for a dentist online and your website will definitely be one of the places they visit. If you want different patients, a traditional dental website simply won’t do.
Dentists tend to have websites that are built to impress other dentists. Those websites are loaded with dental jargon that your prospects won’t understand, with procedure videos that will turn the stomachs of most patients, and with doctor bios that emphasize training that patients aren’t familiar with.
It may come as a blow to your ego, but dentists today are viewed as being uniformly competent. Patients expect at least adequate results from treatment by any dentist. Your better patients are looking for reasons to pick one dentist over another, and your marketing has to provide them with those reasons. That’s the “bait” that will bring you the patients who will help you grow your practice while being a delight to serve.