This article originally appeared in the November/2020 issue of the Academy of General Dentistry’s AGD Impact magazine.
A popular marketing adage states: “When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.” This is a fitting attitude given the COVID-19 pandemic, but of course you would expect a marketing agency to say that. Don’t take my word for it; data proves that companies that invested in marketing during tough times ended up in a stronger position than their competitors that did not.
It may seem counterintuitive, but marketing during the pandemic can actually help grow your practice. Let’s take a look at some companies that not only survived recessions but thrived because of their investment in marketing. In 1923, advertising executive Roland S. Vaile tracked 200 companies that continued to advertise during the economic downturn and ended up 20% ahead of where they were before the recession.1
While marketing has changed since the 1920s, more recent examples show the same results:
- During the energy crisis in the 1970s, Toyota became the top imported brand of automobiles to the United States, taking out Volkswagen from the No. 1 spot because it made the decision to continue to advertise. It’s still No. 1 today. 1,2
- The recession in the early 1990s helped Pizza Hut and Taco Bell gain market share over McDonald’s because they maintained spending and grew by 61% and 40%, respectively, while McDonald’s cut its advertising budget and saw a 28% decrease in sales. 3
It takes courage to invest in marketing when there is so much uncertainty. However, it is precisely these times when you should stay visible to your target audience because it’s an opportunity to overtake your competitors. While the practice down the street is scaling back on advertising, you can take over that market share. Advertising your practice now sends a message to patients that they can trust you, and, like the companies above, will enable you to enjoy even greater growth when we come out of this tough time.
How to Keep Marketing Your Practice in Tough Times
If you’ve slowed down or stopped your marketing altogether, the good news is that you can get back up and running using the following marketing channels:
- Update your website. Your main point of online contact with new patients is often your website. Updating this critical marketing tool will better help your practice resonate with patients when they find you online.
- Blog, blog, blog. Adding original content online increases your odds of being found as well as giving new patients another way to get to know and trust you.
- Get more active on social media. Besides posting regular content on Facebook, if you enjoy taking photos and video, you should also be posting them to Instagram. People searching online will be able to find you easier and connect with you on social media, increasing the chances that they will become your patients.
- Online advertising. Facebook and Google ads are powerful advertising tools that can target your ideal audience and help your practice show up when people search for things such as “dentists in [your city]” or “dental implants in [your city].”
By implementing some or all of these marketing strategies, you will increase your visibility and your likelihood of capturing more market share and, in turn, new patients.
With fewer practices advertising, not only will your brand stand out more, but media costs will tend to decrease, as well. You will spend less money attracting new patients’ on platforms like Google AdWords and Facebook Ads because there is less competition. History is on your side. It may take a leap of faith, but, in the end, those who keep marketing end up stronger in the long run.
1. Jelinek, Kyle. “Lessons from History: Advertising in an Economic Downturn.” Oxford Road, oxfordroad.com/lessons-from-history-advertising-in-an-economic-downturn/. Accessed 2 Sept. 2020.
2. Johnson, Bradley. “Ten Things You Can Learn From ‘70s Recession.” AdAge, adage.com/article/news/ten-things-learn-70s-recession/131670. Accessed 2 Sept. 2020.
3. Hamner, Susanna. “Double Down on Strategic Advertising.” CBS News, cbsnews.com/news/double-down-on-strategic-advertising/. Accessed 2 Sept. 2020.