Elevate your marketing results through integrated marketing

June 1, 2009
Growing a healthy dental practice requires ever-vigilant, changing, and varied marketing efforts.

Glenn Lombardi

Growing a healthy dental practice requires ever-vigilant, changing, and varied marketing efforts. Having helped more than 3,000 dentists market their practices, I can safely say that the most successful marketing strategies for dentists result from an integrated approach. Integrated marketing achieves two primary objectives at once: it builds awareness for your practice, and it heightens patient loyalty.

At the heart of an integrated campaign is your Web site, containing all the information about you, your practice, your services, and the dental care you offer for prospective patients. Every component in your marketing mix should be designed to drive traffic to your Web site and increase appointments. Ultimately, this strategy creates a steady pipeline of new patients, enhances case acceptance among your existing patients, and continuously improves your bottom line.

Which marketing strategies are the most effective for your dental practice? In today's world, dental marketing requires both online and offline strategies to reach the broadest possible patient base. You need to make sure your messages appear to people who are most likely to use your services — consumers who live or work in close proximity to your office and who seek the services you offer.

Start with traditional external marketing mechanisms. A neighborhood direct mail campaign attracts new patients based on the convenience factor. You can target patients based on zip codes, carrier route, and household income or age. Mailers should include special offers and a call to action, so you might send a mailer offering free whitening if a prospective patient schedules an appointment in a given time frame.

The key is to craft your mailers to drive interested prospects to a customized landing page on your Web site where they can learn more about your specific offer and take action by requesting an appointment. You can track your ROI by using smart phone numbers on the mailer, measuring the visitors to your Web site, and examining the numbers of appointments made from the mailer.

Other traditional marketing tactics that remain powerful internal marketing tools are in-office banners, video displays, and practice and patient education brochures. Your office and staff are integral to projecting a positive image and making patients aware of additional services offered by your practice. Banners, displays, and brochures augment in-office communications to interact with your patients, increase new services revenue, and improve patient retention.

We also recommend implementing an in-office referral campaign to have your satisfied patients refer their family and friends. Once again, each marketing tactic should drive patients to your Web site where they can find more of what they want to know when they want to know it.

In today's digital world, online strategies are another critical component in an effective marketing campaign because they work for you 24/7. With search engines such as Google, you can target patients in your area at the exact moment they search for a dentist or research dental services online, such as sedation dentistry, veneers, or Invisalign.

Based on new technology, you can now advertise in Google by choosing keywords such as “dentist,“ “veneers,“ or “teeth whitening,“ within a specific radius or area around your practice. The words you choose match the most common terminology patients use when researching dental services online.

When consumers type one of the terms you've selected into the search box, they no longer have to specify their location to be matched with your practice — the search engines can identify each user's location from his or her IP address. When a search engine identifies a person making a query within your designated area, a brief ad for your practice appears to the right or above the search results list highlighting your practice.

With this AdWords pay-per-click solution, you only pay for the lead if the person clicks through a hyperlink in your ad and goes directly to your Web site. That makes local online searches productive and cost-effective.

With all roads leading to your Web site, you need to make sure the site offers ease of navigation, depth of content, and brand image to make a convincing impression that will move patients to take action and request an appointment.

The combination of traditional, offline marketing tactics with new media and online tactics enables you to create a sizeable funnel that leads consumers through the engagement process — from interested individuals to prospects, from prospects to patients, and from patients to champions for your practice.

Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, a leading national provider of customized Web sites and search engine marketing solutions for dental and medical practices. Since 2002, more than 4,000 dentists and doctors have grown their practices with state-of-the-art online capabilities and marketing materials. Contact Lombardi at (800) 908-2483, ext. 2310, or at [email protected].

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