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Millennials are not as different from the larger audience your practice serves. A few quick strategies can help boost your visibility with this market.
Millennials are a huge group of people who, like many others, have dental issues.
When you hear the term ‘millennial’ does it conjure up the image of a young person who is uninformed and only cares about themselves? If so, you may be missing an opportunity to reach out to a market representing one-fourth of the U.S. population. Marketing to millennials should not be a throw-away activity.
Do you have a specific strategy for targeting the millennial population? You should. Because if the strategy you employ to market your practice to millennials is the same one you use for all other current and prospective patients, chances are it’s not successful.
That’s because millennials are not the same as the rest of your target market.
And if you’re not targeting millennials in your marketing efforts, you’re missing a huge market.
According to an article in Forbes magazine, there are approximately 80 million millennials in the U.S., or one fourth of the country’s population. And they possess $200 billion in annual buying power.
So why are they often overlooked? Andrea Samacicia Mullan, founder of Victory Public Relations, says it’s because of the stigma attached to the term millennials.
“I don't think they’re taken seriously,” she says. “They are incorrectly synonymous with being young and inexperienced. But every day they get a little bit older and a little savvier.”
What’s different about millennials, Mullan says, is that they were raised on social media. Much of their purchasing behavior is inherently impacted by social media and what they see on the Internet. Dentists who have been in practice may feel uncomfortable with certain aspects of social media. But that doesn’t mean this huge population should be overlooked.
“I emphasize with [older dentists] because change is hard,” Mullan says. “But there are resources that can help dentists for whom social media and brand management is a foreign concept.”
But beyond the nuances of social media, Mullan says the choices millennials make often come down to the same thing as many other populations: customer service.
“It comes down to authenticity, customer service, and delivery of message,” she explains. “It’s reasonable that there may need to be some tweaks in the strategy and messaging, but as long as you step out with truly the best interests of your patient at heart, they will realize that.”
Millennials are often classified as being early adopters of new technology, of new ideas, and being interested in learning about new products or procedures. That, Mullan says, is a strategy dentists can employ -- marketing aspects of their practice that separate them from the competition. But too often dentists overlook the value of that strategy.
“I talk with my clients all the time and they say, ‘I don’t have the money to invest in that technology right now,’” Mullan says. “But there are other things you can promote that might not be high tech but are specific to your industry that will garner the same interest.”
In other words, connecting with the millennial market doesn’t need to be cost prohibitive. For example, appearance and having a nice smile are extremely important to millennials. Talk about the process of having veneers placed on teeth, or implants.
“The whole idea of how you can engineer the perfect smile for your face, being able to lift the curtain to that process, has been tremendously valuable for my clients,” Mullan says.
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Members of the millennial market are also drawn to people who care about the community around them, and beyond. Do you participate in health fairs at area schools? Do you donate time to help the underserved in your community, or beyond borders through missionary trips? Those are worthy of promotion.
But, don’t simply adopt a cause in an effort to impress the market, because it will likely backfire on you.
“That’s the opposite of the authentic behavior the millennial market relates to,” Mullan says. “You don’t have to be an activist or a philanthropist to have something in your story that humanizes you.”
In short, you don’t have to change who you are in order to ingratiate yourself with the millennial market. Rather, look at yourself honestly and identify what it is about you that you have not previously explored, but that people will appreciate. Maybe you have a grandchild whose school play you recently attended. Or a hobby that you haven’t integrated into your professional life. It doesn’t have to be something that consumes your entire life.
“I think the misconception that in order to be professional you have to be robotic or mechanical is a hindrance for some people,” Mullan says. “Show your patients who you are and let them relate to you.”
Doing so, she says, will help benefit your relationship not only with the millennial market, but with all patients in a competitive market.
“Relationships will only be improved if you share a sliver of yourself that goes beyond your practice.”