by Ron Jobson
Overhead for the dental profession continues to climb and squeeze profits. So your marketing had better be effective. Every year, dentists spend thousands of dollars on advertising and marketing in an attempt to grow their practices and attract new patients.
But by implementing a few simple techniques that can increase your response rates and patient conversion ratios, you can reap a significantly higher return on advertising, brochures, postcards, and other marketing materials.
Here are eight tips that can help attract more patients and increase your practice’s profit:
1) Focus on your prospective patients, not on you.
Your marketing should focus on your patients’ "hot buttons," or what they really care about when choosing a dentist. All of the problems, frustrations, annoyances, and confusion that patients and prospects typically have when dealing with the dental profession are considered their hot buttons.
These include such items as the level of pain they experience during procedures, how long they have to wait during appointments, and what results they receive. Your marketing copy should address these hot buttons rather than just listing the services and products your practice offers. A good rule of thumb is that "you" and "your" should appear at least twice as many times in your marketing pieces as "we" and "our."
2) Don’t begin an ad, postcard or other marketing piece with your name or logo.
The most important part of any marketing piece is the headline. Unless your name is Microsoft, Starbucks or Nike, your practice’s name and logo will not attract prospective patients. So make sure to use bold headlines that hit your prospects’ hot buttons, grab their attention, and make them want to keep reading.
3) Make a risk-free offer.
When prospective patients see your ad, the easiest thing for them to do is ... nothing! Your marketing material should include a risk-free offer that gives patients a reason to call your practice. Offer a free report or guide that educates prospects, such as "10 Things You Need To Know Before Choosing a Dentist."
In addition, you could offer a special discount on services or a free teeth cleaning. It is not good enough to just list your toll-free number on marketing pieces — you have to give prospective patients a reason to call! If you do this, you can build a database of qualified prospects who respond to your offer, then proactively educate them. So when they are ready to see a new dentist, they will choose your practice.
4) Use a P.S. in your letters.
While the headline is the most read part of a letter, readers will often skip directly to the P.S. Make sure to include a low-risk offer or call to action in your P.S.
5) Educate prospective patients.
Provide educational information that will be of interest to prospective patients. Give them tips and ideas they can benefit from immediately instead of just a list of your services or credentials. Tell prospective patients what to look for when choosing a dentist, how to take care of their teeth, the benefits of using an electric toothbrush, or how flossing will affect their health. Education-based marketing will ensure that your marketing is perceived as valuable rather than as just more annoying advertising.
6) Track your results carefully.
Put a system in place to track your results so that you know exactly which marketing pieces are creating the highest response rate.
7) Test everything.
Test each marketing piece to a small sample and then compare the results. Just because you think an ad will work does not mean it will resonate with prospective patients. Testing can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
8) Market to prospective patients consistently.
The average customer will not buy until after the seventh contact with a business, so it’s critical that you market consistently and frequently to the same audience. If you are launching a direct mail campaign, commit to doing it at least once a month for 10 months. Research shows that response rates go up exponentially when you speak to prospects consistently over time.
Ron Jobson is the owner of ForSight Marketing, a full-service marketing and advertising agency that provides one-of-a-kind strategic plans and systems to assist dental practices and other businesses to gain market share. He can be reached at (626) 449-8990 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit ForSight’s Web site at www.forsightmarketing.com.