Identifying your ideal patient for your dental practice

One of the cornerstones of any marketing campaign is knowing who your ‘ideal patient’ is. Many dental practices make the mistake of avoiding this stage in the 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 to implementing a strategic marketing plan is for dentists to identify their practices’ ideal patient or target patient profile. Once you know your target market, you need to get to know how best to communicate with them.

Take into consideration what activities will best help reach these people.

How to identify your ideal patient

You may find that you have more than one ‘ideal patient’ (e.g. busy corporate professionals and mothers with young children). You will notice by doing this exercise that each type of ‘perfect patient’ will have different characteristics.

We recommend that you have a different marketing campaign for each one of your ideal patients. Think about:

  • Who is your ideal patient?
  • Where do they live?
  • Where do they work?
  • What gender are they?
  • What age are they?
  • How much do they earn?
  • What lifestyle do they have?
  • What are their attitudes towards your services?
  • What are your ideal patients’ issues?
  • How do your services help them?
  • What do they want to know/what questions do they have about your services?
  • What are their concerns and fears about your services?
  • What do they read? Who do they talk to? Where do they shop?
  • What age groups and ethnicities are most represented?
  • What social media platforms do they use?
  • How do they want to book an appointment?
  • What do they want in terms of location and opening hours?

Another way that you could do this is to look at your existing patients and identify the most profitable. Is there any commonality in terms of demographic and behaviour? You then should think about how you could go about attracting and retaining more of this type of patient.

It is important that these processes are repeated every year to identify any demographic shifts to the economics of your area that you need to be aware of. This is important as demographic shifts could change the demand for the service mix you provide.

What hours do your ideal patients want you to open?

This is another area of greater and greater importance. We live in an increasingly busy world. People are wanting and expecting increasingly flexible opening hours, be that before or after business working hours or at the weekends. If you are working in a business district area, an absolute must is to be able to see patients early in the morning and later in the evening to fit around people’s busy schedules. If you are focusing on families, blocking out times that are just for children in the couple of hours after the end of school could differentiate your dental clinic from others in the local area.

Thinking about your patient demographic and changing the way you run your practice accordingly is key to marketing. Make sure that you communicate changes to your patients.

A word on corporate marketing

Corporate dental groups bring with them professional marketing support and big marketing budgets. The main focus of their high-impact advertising is to bring new patients through the door. This really raises the bar for the independent dental practices that want to get noticed.

So how is the corporate approach different from that of an independent practice? First, they have a plan in place that calls for consistent long-term communication. Their objective is to build a recognisable brand that gets stronger month after month and year after year. Second, they have professionally-designed communications that they know will resonate with the patients they’re targeting. Finally, they use an integrated approach to cover all the touchpoints. It’s not a scattergun approach.

Independent dental practices can offer bespoke personalised services that the corporates can never offer. It’s important to focus your marketing on your differences and strengths, all the while targeting your ‘ideal patient’ target markets.