Article written by Maggie Bell, CEO of Executive Concepts
In resolving the problem of how to get new patients, it is important to understand the challenges of today’s marketing channels.
In consulting dentists over the past two decades, I have asked dental professionals the same question, and overwhelmingly the problem of finding and getting in new patients is their biggest headache. Well, over half of these professional dentists tell me they just don’t know how to get new patients.
What you are doing or not doing, in the way of marketing your practice, definitely effects the messages you are sending out to your community, your patients, and your own team.
1.) Leverage Email More Effectively. Is your staff insisting that before every patient leaves the office that the patient gives you their email address? Monthly newsletters, invitations to come in to your office for special events, notices of important happenings in the community that you are involved with, an endless array of communication could go out to patients on a regular basis making them an important member of your group. Ongoing internal marketing is a much better vehicle to keep your group active than any other method. Email is free and an effective method on how to get new patients.
2.) Effective Referral Marketing. Do you ask every patient if they know someone who could use your services? And, I am not talking about simply having your staff hand them a card with a new patient offer on it. That means you, as the professional, or your assistants and hygienists if you personally are too swamped to add on a 30-second invitation to your patient directly, ask them to look at who they could tell about you.
It is true that 75% to 80% of your best new patients come in from patient referrals. In my own management consulting business, what I do is go in to the offices and enlighten the staff on how to ask for referrals. Another aspect of my training is to get the staff involved in communicating with patients on such things as wishes the patient might have in the appearance of their teeth, new procedures that they may know nothing about that the doctor may not have reason to go over, personal connection with patients, etc. Staff have been under-utilized in their ability to keep the practice alive by having these great connections with patients.
3.) Tap Into Your Online Power. Are you utilizing your website, or is it a brochure sitting on idle? Dental websites are universal, and common consensus is that every dentist should have one. But, the web is more and more being created by users like you and me. Many dentists are enabling others to connect to them personally, and to share information by creating pages that they use regularly on Facebook,YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. These allow dentists to be much more engaging with the public, and allows them to share knowledge.
We all know that when it comes to dentistry the public are generally in fear. They either fear the unknown, have fear of possible pain, or are even afraid of what they will need to pay out. When they can read a Facebook site, for example,where the dentist posts comments, they see that he/she has a human side. By the time they make it into your office they may even feel as though they already know you. Dentists can then very easily share their knowledge and experiences and become a real person, not just a name and logo.
4.) Direct Marketing Works! What type of direct marketing are you doing in your area? Do you mail to those residents around you, telling them you are there and inviting them in? If you set aside 14% of your gross income – yes, doctor, I did say 14% – and labeled it as marketing budget only, do you think you would have new people walking in your door? Absolutely! The key is being able to look at your promotion and understanding what the message would need to be in order to elicit the phone call from them to make their first appointment. Do you survey your new patients to ask them what they saw in your marketing that would make them want to come to see you instead of the dentist down the street? Do you keep a log of their responses so you can tally it up and design promotion around that “button”?
Here are 4 simple solutions on how to get new patients in volume. I have a method that is proven to work. Call me for a free consultation so that I can help you look at what areas would be best to handle at once. Check out the website at ExecutiveConceptsConsulting.com