Projected 2017 Marketing Trends for Your Dental Practice

December 14, 2016
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

Predictions on the types of marketing efforts that will effectively engage consumers in 2017. They will be looking for personalization, attention to detail, and quick access to services and products.

Dentists have a lot of options when it comes to choosing where to practice, and you might have decided to go into business for yourself. As a small business owner, part of your responsibility is staying on top of business trends that can help increase your exposure, drive patients to your practice, and create more revenue. In short, you’ve got to learn how to market yourself effectively in order to stay ahead of your competition.

2016 saw a variety of marketing trends, from renewed focus on the customer experience to using social media in new ways to drum up business. Predictions are already being made for 2017 as to what types of efforts are going to effectively engage consumers who demand personalization, attention to detail, and quick access to services and products.

As you review some of the marketing trends that are forecast for the New Year, keep in mind it’s unlikely that every new trend will make sense for your particular practice. What does make sense is working to increase the visibility of your business and spotlighting yourself as an expert in dentistry. Here’s what you need to know about some of the anticipated marketing trends for 2017.

Patients Want Personalization

Even outside of healthcare, the emphasis on personalization can make or break a company’s image. Does your practice adhere to a one-size-fits-all model approach to patient care, or do you take the time to explore each and every patient’s history, diagnosis, and treatment options before beginning work? Patients already know that they are unique individuals, and they want to develop meaningful relationships with the people responsible for the most intimate aspects of their care. As a dentist, this means you — you have to be willing to adapt to this new way of customer service.

Patients Want an Experience, Not Just a Cleaning

More recent marketing trends have also focused on creating a consumer experience, and the healthcare field has begun to explore this avenue of marketing as well. A pleasant waiting area with friendly, receptive front desk staff, a comfortable examination chair, the latest high-tech equipment and TVs in treatment rooms all add to the overall experience your patient has every time they visit you. If your office is dirty, outdated, or unwelcoming, you can count on patients taking their business elsewhere.

Give Patients More Access to Services Through Mobile Devices

One of the biggest ways patients find information is through the use of their smartphones. In fact, a recent Gallup poll showed that 72 percent of Americans are checking their mobile phones at least once an hour. While having a unique practice website is still very important, it needs to be responsive to mobile use if more patients are going to find you. Also, more patients than ever are comfortable making payments using their mobile devices. Setting your practice up to accept mobile payments for your services can give you a huge advantage when it comes to collecting money.

Use Video for Shorter Attention Spans

This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours producing video content to put on your website. But you can borrow an idea from the automotive and real estate industries and use video to show 360° views of your lobby and treatment areas. You could even shoot a brief introductory video giving some background on yourself and the dental treatments you specialize in. This gives patients the experience of being in your dental clinic before they even arrive. It shows that you’re proud of your facilities and you work to provide a comfortable, relaxing environment for every patient that comes through your door. Immersive video doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time, but it can be a valuable tool in showcasing your practice.

Use Social Media More Effectively

Does your practice have a Twitter account? Do you use it to blast out generic, non-targeted dental industry news, or do you tweet with a purposeful approach that provides relevant, interesting information to your intended audience? It’s not enough to simply put out non-specific information that you might personally find appealing. As a small business owner, you have to use social media platforms to advertise your specific value to target markets and increase your practice’s visibility by calling attention direct attention to it.

Optimize Your Website for Local SEO

Even though Google changed its analytic practices, you can still optimize your website with local keywords that help patients find you. It’s possible to boost your local search engine optimization (SEO) by having your contact information on your website (a no-brainer), having positive practice reviews on platforms that accept them, and focusing on using keywords that describe your specific services and the location of your practice, like your city and state.

Position Yourself as an Expert with Content Contributions

Content is still king when it comes to marketing your practice. While you should have relevant written content on your website, it also makes sense for dentists to submit articles or guest blog posts to other media outlets. Doing so positions you as an expert in dentistry by giving you instant third-party credibility. Regardless of whether you write the content yourself or hire a writer to produce content for you, you should target a specific niche or publication that will allow you to showcase your specific expertise within the dental field. Having written content published on a third-party website or print publication helps you stand out as a thought-leader, up to date on the most recent trends, issues, and patient concerns in dentistry.

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