Being a great dentist is important. As medical practitioners, we should all strive to offer the best care we possibly can to our patients. However, as practice owners, we know that the ability to attract and retain patients is a fundamental business skill that every practice owner needs to know.
Just as clinical skills are necessary to be a successful dentist, marketing know-how is necessary to become a successful practice owner.
What is marketing?
Simply put, marketing is taking a stranger who doesn’t know you exist through the stages of awareness, trust, repeat business, and eventually a referrer or “brand ambassador”. Retaining patients is a key aspect of marketing because if you are leaking patients, it becomes a zero-sum game.
While there is no silver bullet that works every time, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You can learn from the wisdom of those around you so that your marketing journey is smooth and without bumps. To that end, here are five marketing shortcuts that will help you avoid costly potholes.
1) Invest not just in technical skills, but business skills (especially marketing).
Unfortunately, dental school isn’t built to create great business people. It’s built to create great dentists. Once you open a practice, it is important to invest in your own education to understand what dental school didn’t teach you. Because you’re not necessarily a dentist anymore. You’re a business owner. You’re in the business of being a dentist.
That’s fundamentally different. The skills to become a good business owner are very, very different from the skills that make you a good clinician. Once you transition from the mindset of a clinician in a dental practice to the business owner who delivers dental services to patients, it will become easier to see how the pieces fit together.
2) Create a marketing blueprint that informs everything.
It’s so easy to get distracted with the next shiny thing. Before, marketing might have meant paying for your business name to end up in the Yellow Pages and that was it. Now there’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat. Content marketing. SEO. Print marketing. Traditional ads.
The list goes on.
And it can quickly become overwhelming.
The key is to put together a marketing blueprint. Your blueprint will help you understand where and how these pieces fit together and if you should add something new to the mix. Does it make sense for you? Where does it go? You will understand the purpose of your website, how to build it, and what creates lead conversions.
You can think about it like a literal blueprint of a house. Before you build a house, you sit down with an architect and make a plan. The same is true for marketing. Throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks quickly lead to burn out.
First, create a blueprint, and then you can start laying the foundations.
3) Know the difference between playing business and doing business.
You know you need to market to attract new patients and keep the revenue flowing. Maybe you even ran a marketing campaign that brought in some new business. But then something happens.
The marketing shifts from, well, marketing to branding. It suddenly feels like maybe your website needs a spruce. Then you need to make new business cards. And create a new logo.
While all of these things are worthwhile and important – you should absolutely have a user-friendly website and business cards! – the design, in itself, will not bring in new patients. Customers choose to do business with companies that offer them value. And your patients will choose your services because you offer them value.
4) Test your ideas first on a small scale.
Marketing is subjective until it’s not. You might create a slogan or a campaign that you think is going to bring in a stream of new patients and then it flops. You might not be sure about the wording on an ad, but then it offers a huge return on your investment.
Until your marketing has been out in the real world where potential patients can engage and react to it, you won’t know if your marketing is successful or not. So before you throw all of your marketing budgets toward a large campaign, try it on a small scale. See what works and what doesn’t, before you roll out a bigger campaign.
5) Identify your ideal patient.
We talk about this a lot on this blog, but we’re circling back to the idea of an ‘ideal patient’. Marketing is how you speak to your potential patients. Your message should resonate with the kind of patients you wish to see walking through your door.
To put it another way, no one’s ideal patient is “anyone”, because when you are too general, you will appeal to no one. For example, if someone wants adult braces, they might be searching for Invisalign dentist. If you are a jack-of-all-trades, even if you do Invisalign, you will likely miss that patient because they won’t find you with a Google search like that.
You can do business outside of your target market. You’re not restricting yourself to saying ‘no’ to patients that don’t fit your model, but you should still be speaking to the people that will resonate with your services and the value you offer.
Marketing is the bread and butter of every business. It is what brings in new business and keeps companies generating revenue so that they can continue to offer stellar services. The great news is that marketing is a skill that anyone can learn.
Start with your blueprint and stay consistent. You might be surprised by the results.
P.S. Whenever you’re ready …. here are 4 ways I can help you grow your dental practice:
- Grab a free chapter from my book “Retention – How to Plug the #1 Profit Leak in Your Dental Practice”
- The book is the definitive guide to patient retention and how to use internal marketing to grow your practice – Click Here
- Join the Savvy Dentist community and connect with dentists who are scaling their practice tooIt’s our Facebook group where clever dentists learn to become commercially smart so that they have more patients, more profit and less stress. – Click Here
- Attend a Practice Max Intensive live event
- Our 2-day immersive events provide access to the latest entrepreneurial thinking and actionable strategies to drive your practice forward. You’ll leave with a game plan to take your results to the next level. If you’d like to join us, just send me a message with the word “Event and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here
4. Work with me and my team privately
- If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take your profit from 6 figures to 7 figures …. just send me a message with the word “Private”… tell me a little about your practice and what you would like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here