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These proven strategies are designed to give your marketing plan a jump-start in the new year.
Do you cringe when you hear the phrase “marketing trends”? If you’re like most dentists, you don’t need to hear trends; you just want to know what you need to do to promote and build a profitable long-term practice.
The good news is that the “trends” that you may have been hearing about over the last few years aren’t changing - they’re actually compounding. The strategies that were highlighted as trends in 2016 or 2017 have now become the staples in any dentist’s marketing toolkit. With the right mix of these online and offline efforts, you can be confident that you’re spending your time and money on the right marketing ventures in 2018.
Up next: Building a strategy
1. Mobile-first strategy
In a recent study by Google, 96 percent of people use their smartphone to access information online, and dental patients are no different. That’s why the need for dentists to have a dynamic website that is designed for the mobile user continues to be so incredibly important.
A mobile-first strategy goes beyond the idea of just being mobile-friendly; it’s the concept of designing a website for the mobile user first, instead of simply adding functions that will help it operate on mobile devices. This is no longer a nice-to-have feature; if your website isn’t compatible with mobile, you stand to lose out on a tremendous amount of new patient opportunities. Now is the time to reach out to a trusted website designer to be sure your site is enabled for the mobile user.
2. Visual online content
Videos, photos and infographics are all visual components that are incredibly engaging to patients, along with having the added benefit of being more memorable than text alone. When marketing to patients online, adding visual content helps make your efforts more effective.
The rise in popularity of video content, in particular, will only continue in 2018. Fortunately for dentists, creating a quality video doesn’t require a fancy production company or even a large budget. The cameras built into today’s computers and smartphones are often sufficient for shooting brief videos, and uploading your content to your practice website or social media profile has never been easier. Q&A sessions with the dentist, office tours and patient testimonials are all powerful ways to utilize the power of video for the dental practice.
3. Big data
The term “big data” is one you might have heard of but perhaps never thought it applied to your dental practice. With new technology available to dentists today, it’s now possible to see the results of your marketing efforts in real time, allowing you and your team to make quick, fluid adjustments in order to maximize your returns. Big data provides you with valuable information, helping you base your marketing decisions on hard numbers, not feelings and emotions, so that you can be sure you are spending your money most wisely.
It’s always been important for dentists to track and review the returns on their marketing efforts - big data just makes it easier and faster to do so. Luckily for busy dentists, there are numerous dental industry specialists with software tools to help organize the information, including Sesame Communications, Lighthouse360 and MMG Fusion.
With all of the tasks that dental practice owners are charged with on a daily basis, marketing can often get pushed to the back burner. Yet nearly every dental practice now has an online presence, making it increasingly difficult to get your message seen by the right patients. So, what’s a dentist to do?
Marketing is one of the areas where outsourcing can truly pay off, whether you choose a marketing consultant, an SEO company, a social media expert or an online reputation management service. There are certified specialists in all of these various areas whose everyday job is to focus on marketing. Delegate these tasks to the professionals and ensure you are effectively getting your message across to patients online - without having to take time away from the other pending items on your ever-growing to-do list.
5. Brand evangelists
Evangelists. Influencers. Ambassadors. Whatever you want to call these patients, they are more than just happy customers. These are the patients who never hesitate to refer patients to your office, regardless if it’s a friend, a stranger in the grocery store checkout line or through a positive testimonial online that can be seen by hundreds of local prospects.
It’s up to the dentist and team to identify a core group of patients within the practice and cultivate relationships with each one to develop a pipeline of consistent referrals. It takes time and effort to create the momentum, but there’s no doubt that word of mouth will continue to be one of the most powerful - and inexpensive - marketing tools in 2018.
One final thought…
It’s important to remember to be authentic with your marketing. Keep your messages true to your values, and personalize your marketing to reflect your genuine personality. And don’t forget about the power of the personal touch. No amount of flashy tech tools or fancy software programs will replace old-fashioned, quality customer service. Take advantage of the tools available to you, both on- and offline, to align your 2018 marketing goals with the vision you have for your practice in the coming year.