As a dentist, maintaining a profit/growth mindset is not a maybe but a must. A focus on growth is needed to offset any (unexpected) paring back of business from increased competition.
In nature, plants must grow or die – so it is for plants; so it is for dental business.
In part one of this article we looked at the only three ways to grow a dental business:
- boost the number of clients
- increase the frequency of visits, and
- raise the spend per visit.
In this article, we get more into the nitty gritty of the range of marketing tactics that you can use to boost practice profits.
As a marketer, I am often asked about external marketing methods to boost existing client numbers. Yet external marketing is only part of the story.
Aside from attracting new clients via external means, often overlooked is boosting the return from existing clients.
I think of the process that prospective clients must undertake to become your clients as something like jumping a hurdle. Remember those from school?
If the prospective client doesn’t know your business at all, there’s quite a bit of friction before they become a client. They have a range of fears that need to be overcome. What if the staff are not friendly? What if it’s expensive? What if the treatment is painful? etc
Existing clients have already jumped that hurdle which means getting them back to your practice is much easier than attracting new clients.
Relighting the flame
What arrangements do you have in place to reignite lapsed patients? Automated appointment reminders are helpful to a point. Much more helpful is a well organised system of getting on the phone and using an effective call script to encourage lapsed clients to come back.
Part of this requires (subtly) emphasising the implications of not attending the practice (a gram of prevention is worth a kilogram of cure).
A second tactic for existing clients is promoting current/new services to them. In a workshop, I recently asked a group of practices if they thought there were unmet dental needs among their clients. All practices readily admitted there were such opportunities.
Yet, in this regard, most practices are only communicating with their clients once or twice a year (around appointment time). This is hardly a recipe for making the practice top of mind. To overcome this, a monthly email or newsletter (written with the client in mind) can help a lot.
If you can effectively highlight a particular service that you offer, you might be surprised at how many existing clients will elect to do something extra.
Friends of friends
Once you’ve mined your existing clients more effectively, it’s time to tap into their social networks. After existing clients, newly-referred clients are just about the bee’s knees.
Research shows they spend more easily, are more forgiving and more trusting. What’s not to love?
Most practices I deal with don’t appear to have any kind of formalised referral system. That is, a system where the entire practice knows how it works, and it is routinely operated every month.
At a minimum, you should personally thank every client that refers someone to your practice. And when I say thank them, I mean send them a personalised card with/without a gift card/coffee voucher etc.
Taking this one step further, you can run a referral competition where any referrals go into the draw to win something NON-DENTAL. I beg of you, forget giving $20 off their next visit etc (which can be seen as self-serving). Instead go for things like technology, gift cards or holidays.
Stepping outside the fence
The options for external marketing are as vast as the ocean and to keep you on your toes, their effectiveness can vary from location to location. In most of Australia, dominating Google is a really good place to start but don’t kid yourself that if you’re doing something on Google that you’re doing everything.
You need separate processes to master paid vs unpaid listings in Google, and your presence on Google Maps is separate again. Make sure you’re performing well in all areas if you want the best results.
Social media represents an excellent opportunity for building rapport with prospective clients. In the first instance, focus on social media posts (particularly video) that are likely to be shared.
Secondly, more now than ever, you’re going to have to get out your credit card to boost such posts – the algorithm of Facebook, in particular, has meant that unboosted content is often rarely seen.
Boost based on location and income levels, then create an audience of people who have watched a percentage of your popular videos (yes, Facebook lets you do this). If you decide to advertise to this group, you’ve got a much higher chance of conversion than for someone who’s never seen anything from you.
When planning your marketing efforts, focus equally on external and internal marketing to get the best returns. Time and time again, our experience shows the practices with the coordinated set of marketing activities get the best returns. Those who just dabble, not so much.
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Angus Pryor is a Practice Growth Marketing Specialist, international speaker and best-selling author.
Check out his Amazon Number One Bestseller book “The Dental Practice Profit System – 5 Steps To More Patients And Higher Profits”. Click HERE to grab your copy NOW.