Internal marketing to try, and external marketing to avoid like the plague
When I say "marketing," most of you probably think of traditional outbound marketing-ads in your local newspaper, direct mail, online banner ads-you know, the classics. But if your practice is in the midst of launching dental implants as a new service, or if you've already launched without much pickup in the way of new implant patients, you need to go beyond the traditional approaches if you want your new venture to take off. You also have to really nail the traditional approach, because implants are an expensive sell!
Here are a few pointers, based on PostcardMania's experience with more than 4,300 dental clients, designed to help your practice make the most of your dental implant services.
Use your pool of local dentists to your advantage
Yes, I'm talking about your "competitors," but hear me out. Your fellow practitioners are only your competitors when it comes to the services you both offer. If a nearby practice doesn't offer dental implants, they're a prime market to send that business to you, if you do it right.
Be personal-Call the practice and see if you can set up a lunch. If they aren't into that, set up a time where you can come by, meet the staff, and drop off a letter that explains a possible referral program between the two practices. Whether it's in your conversation over lunch or in your letter, be sure to focus on the benefits of using your practice. The worst-case scenario in their mind is that they'll refer a patient to you and you won't deliver quality service or match their care. Focus the conversation around easing that friction.
Reach out across several platforms-A referral marketing campaign is no different from traditional marketing in that you want to create repeat impressions. Send out direct mail (letters and postcards), run targeted Google Pay-Per-Click ads, create a blog to share dental implant success stories regularly, and share these successes on social media. It's a multidimensional undertaking.
Be consistent-Don't expect to land a ton of new referral relationships immediately, because they're just that-relationships. It takes time and effort to build the trust needed to make a relationship work, so stay true to it. Plan your referral marketing strategy and commit to it for six months; then evaluate to see which tactics worked best and focus on those.
Add a splash of internal marketing
Internal marketing is typically done within your own practice, and it educates and familiarizes your staff with a new product or service you're offering. Games and incentives among staff that encourage promoting this product are common among internal marketing campaigns.
Let me be clear. I don't want you to go overboard on this. As the dentist with your name on the door, you're the opinion leader on the premises. Your diagnosis should be gospel as far as your staff is concerned. The last thing you want is a staff member to jump the gun and suggest dental implants to a patient before you've even seen the person!
My suggestion? Keep internal marketing education-based so that your staff can talk intelligently about dental implants after you recommend them. Another idea is to send around case studies and testimonials about dental implants so that your staff can share these positive anecdotes with patients when they ask about implants.
How NOT to market to patients and prospects
Used exclusively, these methods might not be enough to really launch your revenue to the next level. Each has to be paired with traditional external marketing strategies that build the value of the product with prospects and patients. But not every external strategy is created equal. Here are three you need to avoid:
1. Shotgun promotion
When you're promoting a specific product as opposed to your practice in general, it's important for your marketing to be precisely targeted and not a wide shotgun blast. Not everyone needs dental implants, so promoting implants to all your general prospects and patients would be a waste of a good deal of your promotional materials (and money). Instead, look at who has actually purchased dental implants from you and target those patients' profiles. Maybe it's folks in their 60s and 70s? Maybe it's professional hockey players? (I couldn't resist!) To some extent, this will vary based on where your practice is located and the demographics of your area. That's why it's important to look at the hard numbers and find out who has purchased from you. It may be a different group than you thought. While it may be impossible to target precisely, I'm sure most patients will fall into an age range.
2. Start-and-stop messaging
When you decide to promote a specific product such as dental implants, you need to commit. Just like you can't mention it to employees only once (or randomly once every few months) and expect them to respond, you can't mention to patients and prospects infrequently either. This needs to be a full-on campaign. Once you figure out what kind of people you need to target, make sure that audience sees something about your dental implants (in some form or another, such as postcards, emails, etc.) every week for the next few months. Inconsistency is death to marketing.
3. Buffet advertisements
Have you ever been in a buffet line, only to find yourself with so many options that you end up missing the one you really wanted? Or you get to the end of the table and you're out of room on your plate. This is essentially what happens when you toss the product you want to promote into an advertisement with a bunch of other products. You lose focus, and the product gets lost in the noise. Many prospects will either miss it altogether, or run out of room in the budget if they see another service they need more. Or, the worst-they become overwhelmed and do nothing. Again, if you're going to promote your implants, commit. Make the ad all about implants. If you've targeted the audience correctly, the ad will jump right out at them rather than fading into the background.
So if you want to promote dental implants, and you actually want people to respond, and you want to see those responses impact your sales numbers, take the full marketing approach-referral, internal, and external. You'll be in good shape and on your way to more implant sales!
Did you know: as a Dental Economics reader, you are entitled to 5,000 free dental postcards, printed by PostcardMania, as well as free samples of postcards that are working right now for other dental practices. Redeem online or call (844) 269-1836 today—free marketing advice for your practice is also included!
Joy Gendusa is the founder and CEO of PostcardMania. Using just postcards, a phone, and a computer, Joy built PostcardMania from a one-person startup into an industry leader serving over 65,000 clients, plus more than 4,000 dentists! Need help promoting dental implants? Call one of PostcardMania's dental marketing consultants at (844) 269-1836, email Joy at email@example.com, or visit www.postcardmania.com/go/dentalimplants.