If you're not marketing toward a specific audience, you might be wasting your time.
What type of patient would you like to see more of in your practice?
If you’re not sure of the answer, then you might need to hit the pause button on your marketing. Here’s the thing: it’s hard to determine what marketing activities would work best for you if you don’t know who it is that you’re trying to reach.
Three of the largest dental patient demographics today are Baby Boomers, millennials and moms. Each group has its own distinctive characteristics with needs that can be met through various marketing solutions, and homing in on those qualities can be what sets your office apart from the competition.
Ideal patient type: Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers are more active in retirement than generations past, and they want to look as good as they feel. They often have the money to spend on elective and cosmetic procedures, so messaging focused on smile maintenance will resonate with this group. At the opposite end of the spectrum, for Baby Boomers living on fixed incomes and possibly without dental benefits, offering alternative payment options may help them afford dental care they might otherwise assume they had to forego.
An important note: don’t shy away from social media with this older generation. Many are voracious consumers of new technology, and data from a recent Google study indicates that Baby Boomers spend more time online than watching TV. In fact, the over 65 set is now the fastest growing group on Facebook. Online videos can also be very effective in reaching this key demographic.
Ideal patient type: millennials
Millennials are fast becoming the country’s largest generation, expected to overtake Baby Boomers in numbers in the coming few years. And while the label may invoke images of teenagers and young adults with their heads buried in their smartphones, the oldest millennials will be turning 36 this year. Regardless of their ages, millennials are an ideal audience for dentists who are looking to attract patients and build long-term relationships.
To effectively market to this age group, your digital presence must be on point. Your website needs to be mobile-friendly and should include online appointing features. Online reviews on third-party sites (think Google, Yelp and Healthgrades) are an absolute must.
Speaking of online reviews, millennials are just as comfortable with rating businesses online as they are with trusting complete strangers’ reviews, so if you and your team aren’t actively asking them to rate your practice on Facebook or leave a Google review, then you’re likely missing out on countless word-of-mouth opportunities.
Up next: The third ideal patient type
Ideal patient type: moms
Often the main healthcare decision maker in the household, and typically the chief financial officer as well, moms are a group that remain a popular target audience for dentists. Moms (many of whom today are millennials) are focused not only on their own oral health but also on the health of their entire family, and they’re always on the go, so convenience is a top priority for them.
Providing Wi-Fi in the waiting room will help moms stay connected while they wait, but be sure to work on optimizing the schedule to minimize wait times as both stay-at-home and working moms tend to be very schedule-oriented. And remember, offering flexible appointment times will help moms fit dental checkups into those busy schedules.
And while they’re constantly focusing on their families, moms are also concerned about their own health and appearance. Staying updated on the latest cosmetic dental procedures and offering same-day services will help keep you relevant with the moms in your neighborhood.
Every patient is unique, so while generalizations won’t necessarily ring true for every patient in every practice, they’re immensely helpful in trying to figure out how to attract - and keep - your most highly desired patients. And while dentists can certainly tweak their practice marketing to attract certain demographics, it’s important to remember that qualities like strong verbal skills, modern office technology, flexible payment options and high-quality customer service are universal and help to build patient trust and loyalty. Those are the qualities that will help ensure that your dental practice can continue to appeal to patients of all kinds.