It’s time to accelerate your dental practice marketing
As “normality” and competition returns, marketing activities should ramp up too
The last 16 months or so have certainly been highly unusual times with the pandemic impacting numerous businesses, dentists included. We’ve seen a range of different effects; successes, failures and more.
Some dental practices have fared quite well as they seized the initiative to introduce new ways of working, for example virtual consultations helping to book new cases even when face-to-face treatments were not possible. Unfortunately we’ve also seen some practices go-under, where already stretched finances were pushed to breaking point as treatment revenues dried up.
Despite continuing uncertainties, we’ve seen dentistry gradually haul itself back on to its feet and come back strong; indeed the last 5 or 6 months have seen a lot of our private dental marketing clients doing extremely well as pent-up demand was progressively released. We saw this reflected quite plainly in website performance statistics and bookings where average activity across the board increased 30 – 40% above pre-pandemic levels in many instances.
However, over the last 4 – 6 weeks, we’re actually starting to see a downturn to pre-pandemic levels as pent-up demand from patients is satisfied and people get more options, not just smile makeovers, to spend their accumulated cash on. Holiday season is also upon us and whilst quarantine uncertainty will certainly deter some folk, others remain keen to spend their cash on that long-awaited holiday.
The effect of this is now starting to be felt by dentists UK-wide and the scope to “make hay” is progressively reducing.
Many of our clients maintained core aspects of their digital marketing e.g. SEO for Google ranking, even through the darkest days of lockdown and they are now being served well; albeit overall patient activity is not quite what it was compared to a few months ago.
However, some of our clients decided to pare costs way back (understandably) and quit some or all of their digital marketing initiatives. As patients were able to return for treatments and the “glut” arrived, several clients also decided to hold off from recommencing any marketing work simply because they felt they didn’t need to – after all, patient numbers and treatments were buoyant.
But how is the landscape changing again and how should you react?
Revitalising your practice marketing
Whilst thing are far from the “normal” we remember, most dental businesses are running well again, backlogs have been trimmed and consequently the demand and supply is starting to balance again. Of course this then knock through into competition and there is a renewed need to ensure your practice is still the most prominent in your area.
As I mentioned, those businesses which continued to invest in Google ranking work are still in good shape, with many of them also running paid ad and social media marketing campaigns to ensure visibility in all of the key channels. In comparison, those businesses which elected to cease their marketing work and hence progressively slipped back in Google, are not in such great shape. Ideally they would have re-started and prioritised those campaigns as soon as revenues became buoyant again, but in some cases, unfortunately they did not and as new patients numbers start to dip again, they are left with a significant amount of catch up work to do.
The first thing to do, and hopefully this blog will act as a prompt, is to recognise that the days of “living off fat” are disappearing and the “new normal” is upon us. This means that competition also returns and you need to be in the best possible shape to beat your competitors.
Start by conducting a mini self-audit of your marketing to establish the current position – then compare this to what you used to do and so inform your decision as to what to do next. Standing still is not an option – your competitors won’t be!
Look closely at the following to start your assessment:
- Is your dental website current and at least as good as your best competitor?
- Where is your website positioned in Google?
- Are your web analytics in order and giving you a clear view of performance?
- Are you measuring where your new patients are coming from (all sources) and do you have a clear idea of monthly trends?
- Are you checking competitor activity e.g. how are their websites ranking in Google, are they running open days, are they using ads on social media?
- Are you posting meaningful content regularly to your social media channels?
- Are you measuring patient “churn” i.e. how many new patients are you gaining and how many patients are you losing?
- Is your internal marketing active and working?
- Are you actively encouraging Google and Facebook reviews and are you monitoring progress
- Is your team non board and actively helping in areas where they can (and should) be making a difference?
When you have a good handle on the above, then you can start addressing any shortfalls. It’s often the case that “standard” procedures fall into disrepair when unusual circumstances arise, but if that’s the case in your own practice, now is the time to get those systems and procedures firmly back on the rails.
Whilst some of the key activities in the list above can and should be done internally, a number of them will require professional marketing input. With the best will in the world, you are not going to have the time or experience to run an effective SEO campaign, nor set up and run social media advertising or Google Ads to promote your practice correctly in those channels.
This is where the digital marketing team at Dental Media is available to help. If you’ve let your promotional campaigns slip during the pandemic and patient numbers have started to slip back, now is the time to get moving again. Please call us on 01332 672548 for a no-obligation discussion to see how we can help.