Become your town's local expert

March 21, 2012
Annemarie Mannion

dentalproductsreport.com-2011-03-01, Issue 3

Ok. You didn’t go to dental school to become a marketer. But what’s a practitioner without patients?  One avenue for promoting a  dental practice is to sell yourself as an expert in your area of expertise. It can be a broad area –dentistry or a more narrow one-say teeth whitening or implants.

Ok. You didn’t go to dental school to become a marketer. But what’s a practitioner without patients?  One avenue for promoting a  dental practice is to sell yourself as an expert in your area of expertise. It can be a broad area –dentistry or a more narrow one-say teeth whitening or implants.

Here are eight ways that public relations experts suggest dentists can promote themselves as local experts in the communities they serve.

1. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and, better yet, offer to hold a chamber event at your office. Ann Pitcher, owner of PS Communications, said being the host of a chamber event or bringing another group into your office for a behind-the-scenes look at your office provides a great setting for a dentist to point out new equipment or services being offered.  Better yet, the conversations will evolve from the setting and won’t seemed strained, they’ll feel natural, Pitcher said.

2. Learn whether there’s a hyperlocal news website in your town, and contribute. These community-based web sites may offer the chance for local professionals to submit columns on trends in dentistry. Have a new product or service? Call your local newspaper and pitch the story to them. “If you have a new technique or product, a local newspaper might  want to do a profile especially if you live in town,”  Pitcher said.

3. Don’t forget to ask patients if they would be willing to provide testimonials. “Be sure to ask patients if they’d be willing to share their stories. These are helpful if you’re talking to a news editor or for posting on your website,” Pitcher said.

4. Getting friendly with Facebook and Twitter. Think you don’t have time to post? Enlist the expertise of a younger person in your office. “Patients are getting younger and Facebook and Twitter is how they communicate,” Pitcher said. “You probably have a young person in your office who can do this in their sleep.”

5. Make sure your website is up to snuff. It doesn’t have to be expensive to have a great-looking site. “It can be done inexpensively. There are dental practice templates you can choose from.” Increasingly, Pitcher said people are going on-line to find services, and dental practices need to have a presence there, she said.

6. Join a local speaker’s bureau or offer to speak before local community groups.  As a community service, Ginny Richardson, president of Ginny Richardson Public Relations in Hinsdale, Il offers Free Speech, a speaker’s bureau that provides 170 speakers for about 600 community groups. Or, if you don’t have a bureau in your community, call the Rotary, Kiwanis or other group that may need speakers. If you’ve traveled abroad to do charitable dentistry work, a group with a focus on helping people internationally, such as Rotary, would be interested in hearing about the lack of dental care as a public health issue.

7. Does anyone in your office have a flair for the dramatic? “A hygienist with a sense of fun can become the tooth fairy and visit pre-schools,” Richardson said. “The free program would emphasize the importance of brushing, and all children could receive a toothbrush of coloring book with the dental practice’s name on it.”

8. Advertise with your local Welcome Wagon or other organization that welcomes newcomers. Pitcher said these ads are usually not very expensive, and reach a market everyone wants to tap-people who haven’t found their dentist yet. “Once they get a dentist they like, they’re not likely to switch so you want to get to people who are new to the community,” she said.