Dental marketing strategy. Take your practice to the next level
What is a dental marketing strategy and who needs one?
The term dental marketing strategy might sound like it is esoteric or stratospheric. Let's take the mystery out of it so you can devise and implement your own dental marketing strategy that fits into your business plan.
Strategy means the skill in management or planning. It is also a military term that has to do with the science of planning and directing military operations. A dental marketing strategy or strategic marketing plan is an overall plan of marketing actions you intend to take in order to accomplish a specific goal for your practice. Think of it like winning a war. You have to strategize how you are going to defeat your opponent, or pay off your school loans, or buy that new building or whatever “war” you want to win – and marketing has e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g with how you go about getting there!
Start with a goal: $2 million in treatments sold this year; expand into new premises by a certain date; double the size of the practice in 2 years – whatever your goal may be. Something realistic, but challenging. That's the “war” you want to win. Guess who the general is.
Then work out a simple, overall plan of the major marketing steps needed to accomplish that (for example):
- Publish a newsletter for all existing patients and mail out quarterly.
- Work out 4 special offers in the year and promote them to all our patients.
- Set up online appointment making and expand the website.
- Direct mail campaign promoting the website to all patients.
- Get mailing lists of (target markets = prospective customers) and do a series of 3 mailings of postcards to them, follow up and close all leads by making appointments that then show up to your office for an exam.
You get the idea. Don't rush this. Do your homework. What worked in the past? Read up on successful marketing campaigns in other dental practices – your journals are full of case studies.
Your practice's marketing strategy needs to be laid out in the right sequence and you should have some idea of budget when you write it. “Run a series of 30 second TV ads during the Superbowl” might sound like a good thing to do but can you afford it? On the other hand, when you build your practice marketing strategy you mustn't try to cut corners. If you don't promote heavily, it doesn't matter how good your product or service is, no one will know about it and you will go broke.
What really works when it comes to marketing?
Many dentists don't have a good enough answer to this important question. I learned by a combination of study and trial and error.
From my own hard won experience I have discovered that a real marketing campaign will take into consideration at least the seven points which are outlined below:
1. Target Your Market
Your marketing will produce the best results for the lowest cost when you target prospects with the greatest need for what you offer.
Identify the best people to send your postcards to. Design your postcards to appeal to their greatest need. If you are able to break down your target market into sub markets you can then write postcards that specifically speak to the needs of those people (an example is breaking down your own patient list into patients who buy most often, patients who spend the most money with you, patients who have been with you the longest and then making them special offers based on the category they fit into).
2. Create A USP For Your Business
USP stands for “Unique Selling Proposition”. It is a statement of what is different about your company and its products. Your USP gives the reason people should come to your practice. It amplifies the benefit of doing business with you and your company. My USP is POSTCARD MARKETING EXPERTS.
Create your own USP and put it on all your promotional materials, invoices, explanation of benefits, stationary and envelopes, etc.
Use your USP to communicate the benefit of doing business with you and why you are better than any of your competitors.
3. Always Make an Offer
Make sure you ask your prospects and customers to do something when they receive your postcard. By offering them something you know they are likely to want and giving them a smooth path to respond on, you are making it easy and desirable for them to respond.
4. Create and Maintain a Database of the Prospect Information You Collect From the Responses To Your Mailings
Most people who receive a postcard from you won't contact you the first time they receive one. But once they contact you, you must create and maintain a database which allows you to repeatedly contact them with offers to respond to.
Fifty percent or more of many businesses' sales come as a result of following up with people who were previously contacted, but didn't buy right away.
No kidding, repeat contact does drive sales. One-time mailings can get response, but are bound to leave sales on the table. Those sales can be picked up with repeated mailings.
5. Take Away the Fear of Loss
People don't want to be fooled, plain and simple. Unfortunately trust does not run high today between customers and businesses in general. People are not as trusting of doctors today as they used to be. People have been disappointed too many times by being sold one thing and getting another.
A guarantee or warranty is a good way to reduce or eliminate the prospective patients' risk of getting something other than what they bargained for. Guarantees and warranties increase response and sales by reducing customer risk.
6. Expand Your Product Line
Getting new patients is more expensive than selling to existing ones. By regularly developing new products and services to sell to your patients and staying on the cutting edge of technological advances in dentistry, and then offering these new products and services to them, you can expand your practice efficiently and easily.
7. Test Your Postcard Promotions
Track the effectiveness of your postcard mailings. How many people responded to your mailing? What dollar amount of treatment plans resulted from those responses?
Is the money you are spending to attract new patients giving you a good return? What can you do to make your marketing more effective? Change your offer, headline, price, the timing of your offer. When you do, then track the results and improve your response.
These are the points to follow when designing your own dental marketing strategy. When you are done, you will have laid out the steps needed to accomplish your goal using existing resources to achieve a great marketing ROI (return on investment). After that, you simply have to get those steps executed and that might require further planning but it is all in the context of your main dental marketing strategy.
Using a powerful, simple, extremely cost effective way of communicating with customers has earned Joy Gendusa Inc Magazine's recognition as the owner of the nation's fastest growing direct mail postcard-marketing firm with year 2006 revenues estimated at $17,000,000. Gendusa began in 1998 with zero investment capital. Today, her Clearwater, FL firm called PostcardMania, employs over 160 people and prints 4 million and mails 2 million postcards representing over 350 business, finance and industrial clients each week. Dentistry is one of the top three industries they create marketing campaigns for. Visit www.postcardmania.com/dentalpostcards/ for a free dental industry report.
If you would like to interview Joy Gendusa, CEO of PostcardMania, please email PostcardMania's VP PR, Karla Jo Helms at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 800-628-1804 x 342.