The importance of community outreach in building your dental practice

February 2, 2016

Although community outreach certainly qualifies as “soft” marketing that typically yields actual results (new patients) over the long term, it serves as a solid foundation for a people-oriented business, such as your dental practice.

At any given moment, there are almost certainly people in your area who are thinking about forming a relationship with a dental practice, dissatisfied with their current dentist and looking for a better alternative, or noticing an oral health problem that needs attention. You have no way of knowing who these people are. And you probably can’t afford to run advertising messages all the time so that, when the prospective patient decides to find a dentist, you come to mind. The solution is community outreach.

For many years, Levin Group has advised its clients to raise their profile in the community and taught them how to do it effectively. The benefits of this “soft” marketing strategy make it well worth the effort. And now, there are new, efficient ways to raise community awareness that take less time away from your personal life. Think of it as “virtual community outreach.”

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Reaching out online

You’re an oral healthcare expert, and your advice in that area has great value for anyone in your community. You can use the internet in a number of ways to help community members improve their oral health without necessarily coming to your practice. For example, you can write a weekly blog on oral health topics, post it on your website, and use social media channels to attract online readers. Giving guidance, with no strings attached, is a commendable public service. It also raises your profile locally, as more and more people take advantage of the free advice you offer.

You can also volunteer your professional services - and those of your team - to care for underserved members of your community. Use social media to get the word out to qualifying patients and others and then to publicize your activities, which can be especially effective if you have photos or brief video clips showing your involvement.

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If you sponsor or participate in fundraising events, these community connections can show up on your website and in social media before (for recruiting sponsors) and after (reporting on the event and the results).

In some cases, you may be able to use your online resources to bring people into your office for community service purposes. For example, if you’re collecting donations of winter coats, food, or other goods for the needy, you can encourage neighbors to come to your practice to drop off their contributions. These visitors will then not only know your name but also have firsthand acquaintance with your practice and members of your team (ideally including you). If you’ve attracted them via social media, there’s a good chance that they’ll post their own messages about your charitable activities.

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Conclusion

Although community outreach certainly qualifies as “soft” marketing that typically yields actual results (new patients) over the long term, it serves as a solid foundation for a people-oriented business, such as your dental practice. To be effective, your outreach program must be based on actual personal engagement out in the community. However, communicating about those activities - supplemented by oral healthcare advice - can now be accomplished quickly, easily, and inexpensively thanks to today’s online opportunities. Develop team proficiency in web, social media, and other digital channels so that your practice can raise its profile online and in the community.

Editor's Note: Learn more about building practice-patient relationships - and other proven growth strategies - at one of Dr. Levin’s new seminars. You can save $50 when you register 30 days in advance for the seminar in Kansas City on March 31 or in Boston on April 8. To get your savings, go here to register and use code DPM50.