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Grow your practice by going local

April 15, 2022
"Ground marketing" is one of the best ways to get your name out and patients in your chair. Here's what it is and how to make it work for you.

Say it with me: “My dental practice is a local business.” It’s only fitting that one of the best courses of action for your marketing is to get your foot in the door with local businesses. Building these relationships will help create buzz about your practice in your community. Don’t know how to get your foot in the door? Here are some steps to get you started.

Build rapport

Building strong and memorable relationships in your community is important, and that’s why taking time out of your busy schedule to give back will pay off in the long run. Whether you offer seminars, participate in employee health fairs, or give away swag bags in collaboration with other businesses, you’re building rapport in the community. In other words, you’re making yourself and your practice more visible—you’re ground marketing.

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Why ground marketing works

Ground marketing is one of the most effective ways to get more patients and more profits for your practice. It revolves around the idea that you’re right there, on the ground, speaking face-to-face with people. Not only is this an excellent way to build authority as a leading dentistry expert, but it also establishes you as the go-to person regarding your community’s oral care needs.

Ground marketing is affordable and has the potential to bring in new patients immediately. Think about it—you’re more likely to trust someone if you’ve had a pleasant real-life experience with them versus having a nice conversation via direct messages on Instagram, right? So, if you want to work that in-person, ground marketing magic for your business, here’s what to do.

Network with local businesses

How do you get the word out about your business with other local businesses? Network, network, network! This seems obvious enough but getting your foot in the right doors requires some time and research. For instance, in this article about how you can ground market in 2022 post-pandemic, I share the importance of performing a community research and radius check. Doing so will help you narrow your search so that you can hyperfocus on the local businesses that make sense for your practice. If this is your first experience with ground marketing, here are the types of businesses to reach out to and why they’ll work for your practice.

Facilities for children: If you own a pediatric practice, collaborating and ground marketing with facilities for children makes sense. These include daycare centers, private schools, and pediatric medical offices.

Restaurants: There is a huge variety of restaurants with which you can ground market. The key here is to know that every restaurant is different. While the benefits of collaborating and ground marketing with a restaurant are massive, you’ll need to be careful with the strategies you use depending on the type of restaurant you approach.

Fitness facilities: When you think about ground marketing strategies, you want to work smart and not hard. This means you’ll want to ground market to facilities where you can potentially pull in a pool of new patients, not just one or two patients. This is why fitness facilities are a great option, especially at the start of a new year. These include large corporate gyms, private gyms, personal training studios, and more. I’ve got you covered with this article about how you can get your foot in the door with area fitness facilities. 

Apartment complexes: Did you know that your ground marketing efforts can cover apartment complexes? Think regular apartments, townhomes, lofts, luxury apartments, high rises, and condos. While you can absolutely ground market to senior apartments and senior facilities, the strategies you use there will be very different. Getting your practice in with apartment complexes can be incredibly beneficial since you’ll likely attract a pool of patients. I make it a challenge with the students in my ground marketing course to get their foot in the door in no fewer than five apartment complexes.

Join your chamber of commerce

Another way you can mingle and network with area businesses is to join the chamber of commerce. Chamber of commerce is a broad term for a business network. It consists of people who dedicate their time, money, and energy to advancing the local economy. This means your chamber is comprised of fellow business owners and entrepreneurs. Joining your local chamber can increase your number of new patients since you can provide them with special offers and resources that save them money on your services.

What’s next?

Now that you’ve done your community research, radius check, and introduced yourself, what’s next? The point of getting your foot in the door with local businesses is to draw in new patients. Whether those patients are coming to you from the business’s employees or customers, you can’t attract them simply by making your name and presence known. 

You’ll want to seal the deal and give back to your community by offering something in return. As I said, you can offer your time by hosting a seminar or participating in a company event. But if you’re looking for a great way to attract new patients both from within a business and with their clientele, you can never go wrong with swag bags.

Swag on a budget

If you’re new to ground marketing, you might not want to spend a ton of money right out of the gate. Here are some items that will go a long way:

  • Toothbrushes, floss, and mouthwash
  • Coupon or discount for $50 (or any amount) off your services
  • A free tray for whitening (if that’s a service you’d like to promote)
  • Office supplies such as pens, notepads, Post-its, and stickers
  • Apparel such as T-shirts, caps, and tote bags 

The key to your promotional products is to be savvy and intentional with them. For example, a tote bag is a great idea because people can use it for a grocery run, and that gives you additional publicity. Ultimately, the truth about collaborating and ground marketing is that businesses gain from working with one another, and you can gain trust, authority, and name recognition by giving back.

Is getting your foot in the door with local businesses something you’d like to try for your practice? If it is and you’d like to implement some tactical ground marketing strategies, download this free script that will help you secure a partnership with area fitness facilities and corporate gyms. 

Editor's note: This article appeared in the April 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

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