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Dental Practice Marketing: Maximize Your External Marketing Investment

business: define your target, reach the right market

As I’ve mentioned in the past, there are only three basic ways to build any business. You can find more clients, increase the frequency of client visits, or increase the average purchase amount of the visit.

In dentistry our clients are called patients, frequency is a function of hygiene, and the average purchase price is increased by treatment acceptance. Over the next few weeks we will look at ways to improve each of these dominant contributors to practice growth. Let's start with finding more patients.

Get the Most Value Out of Your Dental Marketing
Most dental practices concentrate on building their business by getting new patients. As the average dental practice loses about 20% of their active patient base each year, there’s no question that every practice needs to continually add new patients if for no other reason than to replace those that have left.

However, most practices are going about it the wrong way.

I talk to dentists all the time who tell me that they will do dentistry for whoever needs their services. Many practices rely heavily on external marketing tactics such as flyers, direct mail and other types of paid advertising. They mass-mail discount coupons and promotions to anyone with teeth in the hopes of luring them into the office.

Here’s the problem with that approach: If you're marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one.

In addition, the patients you attract with discount coupons are simply coming to get their freebies and will rarely become your best patients; they’ll end up going somewhere else when the next flyer arrives. Price manipulations work, but they don't build loyalty.

Building and implementing a successful marketing campaign is the most expensive thing you can do. So if you’re going to spend money on marketing, then you’d better be marketing to the right person.

Identify Your Ideal Patient
If I asked you to identify your ideal patient, you’d probably say she’s the one who shows up on time, keeps her appointment, accepts treatment and is pleasant. She also pays her bill on time (and with a smile - she knows the value you bring), and refers family and friends. You’d love a whole practice of patients just like her.

Which patient is coming to mind? You know who I’m talking about: this is the person who makes you smile every time you see her name on the schedule. That's the kind of patient you're looking for.

However, have you ever considered why she comes to your practice? Do you know what problems you solve for her and why she would come back to you when there are a dozen other dentists in her town? Have you ever asked?

Building your ideal client base starts with creating a well-defined, focused marketing strategy. Remember, you’re not just looking for a warm body. You’re looking for a patient for life.

Make Sure Your Marketing Message is Targeted at Your Ideal Patient
Once you've identified why your ideal patient chooses you over all other options, make sure all of your marketing efforts convey that value, especially in your external marketing. If you market to this patient, all the patients like her will be interested in what you have to offer.

Just to be clear, it's ok to offer incentives in your marketing initiatives, just make sure that you're offering incentives to the patients that will appreciate you and the care you offer.

In our next post we’ll look at strategies to build your practice through internal marketing. For now, look at your current marketing programs and ask yourself, “To whom am I marketing?” If it’s not your ideal patient, give us a call and we’ll help get you on the right track for practice growth.

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