Quick Guide to Modern Dental Marketing
Marketing a dental practice is an on-going process that demands adaptability and creativity. More than ever, patients today adopt a more exacting consumer mindset to assess their healthcare providers. Then, the pandemic demanded sweeping upgrades to infection control protocols and reduced patient volumes dramatically. Add in a nationwide staffing crisis, challenges with insurance billing, and a trend of practice consolidation, and it's plain to see that marketing a dental practice isn't a one and done kind of task. Rather, it's an open-ended operation that consistently evolves with the climate and with patients.
Through the challenges of the last few years, the dental industry has not only overcome the adversity; it's managed to lead the healthcare space in patient satisfaction metrics by implementing thoughtful, patient-centric innovations.
According to the American Dental Association, dental patient volumes are on the rebound since their 2020 low points, but Americans are still largely behind on their dental visits. Nearly 1 in 3 adults haven’t visited a dentist since before the pandemic (USA Today). Growth-minded practices are focusing on filling their chairs and appointment slots with new and existing patients.
We’ve compiled our Quick Guide for developing dental marketing strategies to turn this challenge into an opportunity for practice growth:
01 | Use Hyperlocal Consumer Research to Steer Points of Differentiation
Upgraded patient experiences are becoming the new norm. Ranging from flexible scheduling and payment options to 3D printing and laser dentistry, these enhanced elements of the dental experience make a big difference as prospective patients consider and compare providers. Practices who find a way to standing out from the crowd stand to boost their Lifetime Patient Value. In fact, across industries 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a great experience (Podium). Every element of a practice's brand – including the greeting at the front desk, the practitioners’ bedside demeanor, exam room upgrades like televisions and music – impacts consumer perception.
But what makes an experience “great” for one patient may not resonate with the next.
An upgraded patient experience can separate your practice from others, but it must also be anchored in your community’s values, preferences, and demographics. For example, one dentist, who practices in an upscale urban neighborhood surrounded by affluent singles, toasts members of their “No Cavity Club” with a mini bottle of champagne after successful routine cleanings. This doesn’t just make for a memorable moment that boosts patient retention, it also drives organic sharing on social networks, where other affluent singles are influenced. But here’s the rub – that exact same tactic is unlikely to perform as well for a practice that’s situated in a lower income area. Among people who don't receive regular dental care, 69% say that affordability is the primary reason (WebMD), so the promise of bubbly will hardly reel them in. In areas where fewer people have access to dental insurance or extra income to pay for their care, adding flexible payment options, like a subscription service model with predictable costs, will likely make a larger impact in patient acquisition and retention. Not sure what kind of consumers make up the tapestry of your service area? We can help with that! Whether you’re catering to folks in their golden years or growing families, performing root canals or cosmetic procedures, WTAE Hearst Pittsburgh’s in-house research group can identify who lives in your service area and what they value most in dental care.
02 | Use Video Storytelling to Promote the Upgraded the Patient Experience
Once a dental practice has determined the best ways to create a distinct and memorable experience that’s centered on the needs of people in their surrounding areas, the next critical step is to share that story with patients in an engaging way.
People crave authentic social proof that isn’t boring. Creating and sharing video content is one of the best ways to showcase a dental practice, including all the customizations and personalities that make it special. Concise, memorable, and customized videos deliver a real sense of what sets a practice apart, builds trust, and promotes brand authenticity. In the dental space, educational content is especially popular, as it addresses patient concerns like dental anxiety or predatory overtreatment.
A 2020 survey of dental patients found that 58% of patients prefer seeing video content from dental practices (Dentavox).
WTAE Hearst Pittsburgh can help you craft omni-channel campaigns to create and distribute custom video content, both on television and digitally depending on your specific goals. Whether you are working to expand awareness for your offices or drive a specific type of appointment, we have the local advertising tools and the engaged audiences to connect your practice to your target patients.
03 | Frictionless Digital Communications to Streamline the Patient Experience
If we could give a dentist looking to connect with patients one piece of advice in 2022 it would be this: make it easy for your patients to start a conversation.
Your patients value convenience and their mobile devices conveniently bridge the gap between awareness and action. Convenience in the dental industry can includes things like:
Online scheduling and payments
A website chatbot to answer common questions
Access to digital intake paperwork ahead of their appointment
Expanded services and office hours
Optimizing your business listing and website for voice search to connect with prospects who are on the go
A detailed patient journey map starts with discovery-focused ads and carries all the way through to collecting reviews post-appointment. Throughout that journey, conversion actions should be at the patients' fingertips with carefully considered calls-to-action that are optimized for mobile browsers. Challenge yourself to make appointment scheduling achievable in as few clicks as possible.
Your patients' mobile devices bridge the gap between awareness and action.
There are a variety of ways to automate these touchpoints and integrate them into the apps and devices your patients already use. For example, business text messaging has a 209% higher response rate than phone, email, and Facebook. Text messages and online chat functions can make the flow from a display ad all the way through to appointment scheduling, confirmations, and follow up reminders intuitive and simple.
Our team can work with you to create a media plan and creative assets that align with your patients' journey from the initial search for a dentist all the way through the front door of your office.
Let's Make a Plan for Your Practice
In conclusion, successful dental marketing takes finesse, strategic thinking, and adaptability. While this post covers some of the ways that dental marketers can connect with more prospective patients for the services they most want to deliver, there are many more tactics and techniques that can drive results. Our team is available to discuss your goals and how we can work together to reach them.