As a dental professional, you are facing unfamiliar challenges running and marketing your practice. You are confronting increased competition (both locally and abroad), an oversupply of dentists, ever-rising practice operating costs, and more marketing-savvy patients. On top of this, your potential patients are becoming more discerning about where they go to get dental services, with many heading overseas. With all of this to contend with, it is very easy to make some common dental marketing mistakes.
To achieve practice success, it is essential to build long-term relationships with patients and prospects. Long-term patients are more likely to feel satisfied. It is they who welcome the opportunity to refer others to you and who will continue to use your services in the future.
Most Common Dental Marketing Mistakes
Over my years working with hundreds of dentists as a marketing consultant, I have observed the common dental marketing mistakes that prevent them being able to successfully market their practices
1. Don’t know your numbers and are not tracking
One of the most common dental marketing mistakes that I see is that many dental practices just aren’t tracking their numbers. There is a phrase that says that if you fail to plan and plan to fail. It is critical that you track all of the metrics in your business and your marketing spend is no exception.
The significant numbers that you need to know and track are
- Average lifetime value of a patient
- Tracking marketing ROI
- New patient numbers
- Patient loss numbers
2. Not knowing your ideal patient
One of the cornerstones of any marketing campaign is knowing who your ‘ideal patient’ is. Many practices make the mistake of not identifying this in eagerness of going ahead with their marketing campaign as soon as possible. You need to stop and think about whom your marketing will be directed to, what they want, what problems they have, and what solutions they need.
The key for implementing a strategic marketing plan is for dentists to identify their practices’ ideal patient or target patient profile. Once you know your market, you need to get to know how best to communicate with them.
3. Wanting a silver bullet
Marketing your dental practice to attract the right kind of patients, keep them active, and get them to refer you to their contacts is no easy task.
Many practices think (and hope) that there is a ‘silver bullet’ to solve their marketing issues. This leaves them open to unscrupulous sales people, and to disillusionment and frustration when their marketing efforts fail.
The companies trying to sell you the ‘marketing silver bullet’ that will ‘solve all your marketing worries’ are constantly calling. Well-meaning friends, colleagues, and patients are giving you advice on what they think you should do to market your practice. The range of marketing media is evolving, and the rapid changes in online marketing make it almost impossible to keep up.
4. Taking a scattergun approach
I speak to many dentists who tell me that they have tried many types of different marketing and they have all failed and ‘nothing works for them’. When I dig deeper, I discover that they have tried many different approaches, but nearly all of these have been done in a haphazard way and in short bursts. I call this a scattergun approach to marketing.
It doesn’t work to try one approach for a month or two in an inconsistent manner without tracking the results or refining on a campaign. This will always end in failure and is a huge dental marketing mistake.
It has been shown that it can take between six to eleven times for patients to see or hear a message before they act on it. Do you know many ways and how many times are you communicating with your patients?
5. Doing it all by yourself
You have to remember that patients are savvier than ever before. They are constantly exposed to a huge amount of marketing and their expectations of what is and is not professional are forever increasing. The reality is that when you are competing against the corporates, you need to ensure that your marketing is up to scratch.
It is also very common for practices to have their branding and logo professionally designed and then decide to ‘take it over’, producing homemade brochures and other marketing collateral that use different colours, fonts, and even different versions of the logo. If you are not consistent, your attempts at establishing a brand will be damaged.
There are just so many things for you to think about when it comes to your dental marketing. How can you fix your website that isn’t performing? Should you be engaging with your patients on social media and how to start? You know that you need to educate your patients on a regular basis but what are they best ways to do this? You need reactivation and referral campaigns but you have no idea how to carry this out in a professional and consistent manner.
It is not uncommon to be so confused and overwhelmed that you spend your time procrastinating and doing nothing.
7. Not getting the right advice
When you own or run a dental practice in fact when you own or run any kind of business there is no shortage of marketing advice to follow. In fact there is an overwhelming amount of advice out there. You may have had the experience of wasting time on money on poor advice.
The problem is that many dentists are not getting the right dental marketing advice. They are listening to many different sources and forming opinion based on advice from people who may not understand the business of dentistry.
There is no magic when it comes to successfully marketing your practice. Be mindful of not making the above dental marketing mistakes and quite simply:
- Pick the aspects of marketing you want to use wisely and with due care and thought.
- Make sure that whatever marketing activities you decide to undertake you perform to the best of your ability and budget.
- Be consistent.
- Track your results – setting your goals and reviewing/ refining them on a regular basis.
- Get good advice from trusted experts in the area of marketing you are undertaking.
It takes time but the effort that you put in will be rewarded by more patients, increased production, better relationships with your team and patients and a sense of control when it comes to your marketing.
It is now time for you to focus on your marketing; avoid making the common mistakes that many practices make by marketing well, do it consistently, and say goodbye to the scattergun approach forever.
Find out more
I would love to hear from you if you have questions about your dental marketing or would like to know more about my book. If you are at ADX16, please visit the My Dental Marketing booth (#142) and say ‘hello’, it would be great to meet you.
- For more about Carolyn and the services that she can offer go to https://mydentalmarketing.com.au
- For more about her book go to http://fullybookeddentist.com
Carolyn Dean is the author of ‘Fully booked – Dental marketing secrets for a full appointment book’ and is the managing director at My Dental Marketing. Carolyn is a widely known seminar speaker and dental marketing consultant working with over twenty-five years’ experience in sales and marketing, working with some of the largest global IT organisations.