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Marketing your Dental Practice: Where to Start

As the owner of a private dental practice, it can certainly feel like you’re wearing many hats. Seeing patients while running a highly-regulated business is no easy feat. Congratulations are certainly in order, but if the hardest part of your job is finding new patients, you may want to take a look at your marketing strategy.

Where Marketing Meets Dentistry

When you opened your dental practice, you probably didn’t think that Marketing Coordinator become part of your job description. However, marketing your business is the only way to bring in new patients. Traditionally, dentists have relied on print materials to get the word out about their practice. Direct mailers and advertisements on busses and billboards have worked for years to bring people into practices, but times are changing – and empty waiting rooms are evidence. If you’ve even looked into what you can be doing to increase the amount of patients you see every month, you may be curious about where to even start. Although overwhelming, taking a good look at what you’re currently doing to draw in patients can be an illuminating experience that can help give you an idea of what you can do to make effective changes.

Evaluating Your Marketing Strategy

What are you currently doing to draw in patients? Referrals? Direct mailers? Pay-per-click advertisements? Relying on word-of-mouth? There is no wrong answer. Each marketing tactic has proven to be effective in certain circumstances. However, what you’re doing can have a profound effect on the quantity and quality of your patients. Ask yourself if your marketing efforts are effective and if they are measureable.  Having this data can help you make better informed decisions and can help you allocate funds where they are most necessary. The reality is that marketing tactics of the past, such as direct mail and advertisements in local magazines or bus benches are extremely difficult to track and prove their efficacy. Plus, they can be quite expensive which is detrimental when you can’t tell which is working and why. In an analysis of direct mail and email marketing, researchers found that for every dollar spent on email marketing, the return was $2,600 (the calculated cost per email was $.06), and for every dollar spent on direct mail the return was $27 (the calculated cost per main was $.60). Those are pretty impressive numbers and most certainly worth knowing if you’d like to see your marketing budget work for you.

If you have dipped your toes into the digital waters then you’re likely the proud owner of a website. This is great news because having a digital presence is one of the most effective marketing tactics available today. Think about it, how do you research the doctors and the businesses you’re curious about? Most Americans pull out their phones and tap their way to the Google search box. When looking at a website, customers are able to get an understanding of your business before they even make an appointment. Evaluating your website and web presence is extremely important when you’re hoping to fill chairs with happy patients. Think about what your website says about your practice. Is it out of date? Does it reflect who you are as a dentist? When patients step inside your office after visiting your website, will they be surprised by the atmosphere? It may seem a little out there, but it happens all the time. Your website is really the best gauge of your practice for outsiders. If you want to attract new patients, it’s well worth it to make some updates to your website these can include: attractive design, knowledgeable content, and a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

Recently, a case study was conducted on a dental practice to understand the impact that a well-made, SEO driven website made. After the practice’s website was updated with SEO practices and an inbound marketing strategy, traffic increased by 169% within two years. What made this increase even more impressive is that it grew their patient leads by 300% A well oiled website can be one of the most valuable tools of a private dental practice.

If you’re looking for a way to increase the amount of patients you see year after year, take the time to really evaluate your current marketing strategy. Think about what your efforts are doing versus what they are costing you. Ask yourself if you’d visit your practice after visiting your website and see what changes need to be made. Taking the plunge into the digital waters can be one of the most effective marketing strategies you’ve ever endeavored. It may even be easier than you think.