Category: Author: Lauren Thompson
When people hear the term marketing, they often conjure up images of television ads, “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” promotions, or endless emails entitled “The deal you can’t afford to miss!” Although those elements may be components of marketing, they do not really capture what marketing is, or how it can be useful, when thinking about your practice.
In its more simple, non-gimmicky form, marketing is everything you do to communicate the benefits of your dental practice to your patients. Those that do it well think strategically about the patient’s path to the practice and the meaningful ways the practice can interact with the patient along that path.
Map your patient’s journey.
A very useful exercise is to sketch out a day in the life of your target patient. How does she commute to work, and what does she see along the way? How does he access the morning news, through a traditional paper or his mobile phone? Where are patients interacting online, and which devices are they using? Where were they when they thought about booking a consultation with your practice? Who were they talking to?
Sketching these maps can be complicated, and many times can result in more questions than answers. As humans in the information age, our lives are fast-paced, and the path-to-practice may not be straightforward. However, engaging in this activity will provide you with greater insight into your patient’s mindset and which touchpoints might be helpful when communicating the benefits of dentistry.
Identify which touchpoints are the most meaningful.
Now that you have a map of your patient’s journey, which connections with the patient would be the most effective? For example, if your patients are not watching television, then traditional television advertising will not be as valuable. If your patients tend to frequent a particular gym or spa in the area, then investing in those business relationships may be worth it.
This is an area where digital marketing is extremely helpful. Data analytics, through media like pay-per-click ads, has enabled businesses to effectively track how customers move online, which helps your practice communicate with potential patients.
Another group of touchpoints to consider is the in-office experience. Staff interactions, how services are communicated and packaged, office décor, follow-up phone calls—there are endless ways to build effective touchpoints in the office itself.
Think strategically about authentic ways to leverage these touchpoints.
Once you have a list of meaningful touchpoints, consider how to communicate the benefits of your practice in an authentic way. 21st-century consumers know when they are being sold to, and more than ever, desire an honest and transparent message from organizations.
For instance, if you position yourself as a high-end practice, then promotional discounts might confuse your patient. If you highlight a nurturing, warm atmosphere on your website, then a long wait on the office phone line might be interpreted by your patient as cold and unfriendly. The ways in which you leverage these touchpoints must be seamlessly aligned with the core benefits your practice provides.
By mapping your patient-to-practice journey, identifying key touchpoints along that path, and thinking creatively about how to use these touchpoints in an authentic way, you can successfully market your dental practice, no “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” required.