Build your dental practice's identity by supporting your community

January 6, 2014

“So just how involved is your practice in the local community?”

 

This is a question I ask offices regularly, and sometimes the answers are interesting because I quickly learn how the office views the definition of “being involved.”

 

“Oh we are very involved, we have an ad in our local paper … and just last week we purchased a 15-second ad spot on the local radio station.”

 

That’s nice, but don’t confuse community involvement with advertising (although if you handle things well on the involvement front, the advertising piece will be an added benefit).

 

Community involvement is a key piece of your practice’s marketing strategy. It can be one of the most fun and rewarding ways to build your practice. It is also a great opportunity to involve your entire team in the process, which helps build the synergy most successful practices have when their team is humming.

 

There are some simple ways to start building your practice image in the local community. If you haven’t already done so, join the Chamber of Commerce. Most Chambers meet monthly, allowing members to network and build relationships with other local businesses. This is key … build those relationships. These meetings also help you learn about upcoming community events and find opportunities to promote your practice through participation or sponsorship.

 

What other ways can your practice build the image within the community? Have you given thought to hosting an open house? This is a great way to introduce your practice to the community. Make it inviting and fun. Showcase your office, offer food and beverages, introduce the entire team, give tours of the practice (each team member taking a turn), show off your technology, and offer coupons for complimentary first visit exams or teeth whitening. Make this a personal event where attendees really get a feel for why your practice is a great place to be.

 

The seasons provide many opportunities for community involvement as well. Set up a Halloween candy buy back campaign for young patients. Decorate a collection box and make it prominent in your waiting area to collect food for the local food bank, or toys for the Toys for Tots program. Hold a summer barbecue in your practice’s parking lot. Have games for kids, balloons, face painting, and other fun activities. Partner with a local restaurant (one you’ve built a relationship with from your Chamber meetings) and hand out coupons to that establishment for new patients who make an appointment at your office during the event.

 

Once you become comfortable with managing these types of in-office programs, step out into live community events. Virtually every community has a walk to benefit the American Cancer Society each year. Form a team with your co-workers, create your own fun shirts, and set up a table at the event for your practice. Decorate the table and feature a raffle prize where you donate the funds collected to the organization. Show pictures of your practice and have welcome brochures and coupons for services on hand to distribute.

 

Of course it’s important to promote your involvement within the community. Hand out flyers to your barbecue. Post posters at local businesses about your team participating in the cancer walk. Social media is one of the fastest ways to get the word out, so utilize your Facebook page, Twitter account, and your website to announce your event or the program you are supporting. After the event, make sure to post pictures and provide information about your donation made to the charity if that was your goal.

 

Building your practice's image within the community takes a little time and effort and should be a key component of your overall marketing strategy. Spending the time and making the effort generates long-term results for your business and your community. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get involved!