Marketing for a Squat Dental Practice
Promoting a new dental business to hit the ground running
Perhaps the largest part of setting up a new dental business is to ensure that new patients will come through the doors as soon as they open. To achieve this, a well-considered marketing plan needs to be developed and implemented well in advance.
Over the years the team at Dental Media has helped hundreds of dentists across the UK build their businesses successfully; indeed we are currently developing new websites and marketing campaigns for several dentists who are currently setting up new squats as well as those who are already well-established.
I thought it would be useful to share the main components of a typical marketing programme for a squat practice, albeit each circumstance will have its own specific requirements depending on the business objectives, location, demographic target and so on.
Let’s take a look at the marketing channels you need to consider and how to make them work best for you. I’ll start with the digital techniques and then also touch on more traditional mechanisms which still have value.
Launch an excellent website
Done well, a new practice website will probably be the best marketing investment you make. Properly maintained and updated, it will continue to bring a steady flow of new patients to your practice and also provide a very useful source of information for existing patients.
When setting up a new business, you need to start work on your website at least three to four months in advance to ensure that it’s ready to launch on time. You may also wish to use a holding page on your website domain to notify new patients that the practice is opening and to encourage them to register their interest in advance.
One thing which is very important to understand is that a website alone will not simply work without ongoing optimisation in the search engines. In the UK this is primarily Google and ideally you need your site to be up there amongst the top three positions. So please seek advice on how best to achieve this and also how much you need to budget for your own location.
To give a rough idea for budgeting purposes, a new website will likely cost anything between £3 – £5k and search engine optimisation anything from £300/month upwards. Expert assistance in these areas is not cheap but is well worthwhile.
Claim and optimise your Google My Business Page
Google provides its “own little corner of the web” for all businesses known as “My Business”. Here you can claim your page, add key information such as opening times and details of services, photographs etc. ‘My Business’ also serves as the focal point for reviews of your business from your patients and this alone makes it a very important asset to claim and maintain.
Paid Advertising For Instant Impact
Search engine optimisation (SEO) takes time to yield results and so you will need something more instantaneous to gain a foothold on the web. This is where paid advertising using Google, Facebook and Instagram has a huge part to play.
You can build a set of ads and deploy them in front of targeted audience very quickly and whilst you will pay for the privilege of using these advertising channels, the rewards can be substantial. However, please be aware that it isn’t trivial to build successful ads and you will almost certainly require an experienced provider to assist you. Unfortunately we’ve seen far too many “home spun” campaigns which have lost dentists a lot of money. The paid ad marketplace is very competitive and so it’s imperative to set up campaigns correctly and then maintain them diligently.
The budget for these types of campaigns will vary considerably but you will need hundreds, not tens of pounds to get the traction you need. Our team will be pleased to develop a proposal for you.
Nurture positive reviews
Almost everyone seeking out products or services will check out reviews of potential providers and this is also true for dentists. Right from the start of your new business you need procedures in place to nurture reviews on Google and Facebook and to respond to them appropriately.
Reviews are not just for the benefit of potential new patients. There is a strong correlation between the number of reviews a business has accrued and its position in the search engines, particularly the local/map results which appear on page one of Google.
Banners and Signs
It probably goes without saying that prominent, appealing signs and banners are important to ensure that passers-by know about your new business, so be sure to invest in this appropriately.
Seek reciprocal agreements with local businesses
Approaching suitable local businesses can also pay dividends, for example gyms, hairdressers, beauty spas etc. Providing an incentive for their customers and also something reciprocal for your own patients can certainly be beneficial in building patient numbers. A number of our clients do this very successfully.
Patient referral schemes
Consider using appropriate means to encourage existing patient to refer their friends and family as patients. Great service will clearly also help with “word-of-mouth” (WOM) referrals, but in the early days you may well need to encourage this along.
Leaflet drops and newspaper ads
Some marketers still claim that non-digital promotion is dead but this definitely isn’t the case. Targeted leaflet drops are very useful to advertise the presence of a new dental business, as are ads in the local papers that seem so common these days. This type of advertising can also be done quite cost effectively.
Ensuring your team is “on message”
This is beyond the scope of this blog and perhaps more suited to a dental coach. However, suffice to say it’s extremely important. It’s not use just having the practice principal and manager on board with new patient initiatives; the whole team needs to be striving for the same goal. So invest time and effort with your team to makes sure that they are genuine ambassadors for your business.
Measure the returns
As with all marketing and advertising initiative, you must measure the returns diligently and act on the results. Such campaigns are never fire-and-forget and need nurturing to ensure their success!
If you are venturing out with a new dental business you need to support it with an appropriate marketing plan and budget. It is almost certain that you will need a holistic “multi-channel” campaign with digital and traditional techniques involved and you will need to monitor the results closely to ensure objectives are met. Remember that what works now may not work as well in the future, so be prepared to try new techniques and ensure that elements such as paid ads are maintained diligently.
If you’d like to see how we can help your dental practice, please call our team on 01332 672548 for a no obligation discussion.