How to Effectively Communicate to Grow Your Practice
Marketing is an art and a science. To be effective, your marketing has to appeal to your target audience by giving them information they want and need, and it has to be compelling enough to make them pay attention. So, what works best when it comes to marketing communications? Let’s talk about it.
Short & Sweet is Always Nice
First and foremost, marketing communications need to be interesting and easy to digest. The goal is to get the message across without a lot of boring technical details. We see so many dental practices that stuff their marketing communications — especially their websites — with tons of information. From a prospective patient’s point of view, that can be very overwhelming. It is better to leave out most of the technical stuff and just give the important highlights. Then, invite the patient to contact you for more details. For example, if your practice has a new, cutting-edge piece of equipment, instead of listing out all the bells and whistles, explain how it will benefit patients, whether it makes procedures faster, less invasive, safer, etc. That is what the patient wants to know, not how many light pulses per second the laser emits. This is specifically important for your website homepage, where you want to grab attention quickly and get visitors to take action. Subpages are better suited for more in-depth information.
Think about how you personally consume marketing emails and websites. Do you read every word? Not likely. Most people don’t want to take the time to read an entire page of text. They want to find the information they are seeking quickly, and they tend to ignore what doesn’t pertain to them. When a reader is faced with a page of dense text, they will be immediately discouraged and likely give up. To prevent this from happening, use headings to separate paragraphs so that the person reading the content can easily identify the sections that interest them. Using lists, captions, and quotes is also a good way to break up information into bite-sized pieces that are easy to find on the page.
Use Social Media the Right Way
If you are on any of the social media platforms, you know that a lot of companies are on there as well, each one trying to sell you something. The companies that are the most successful are the ones that disguise the pitch as something else or don’t actually pitch anything at all. It’s tempting to turn everything into a sales opportunity, but people on social media are savvy and can recognize a sales pitch a mile away. Remember that people go on social media to be social and for entertainment. Our approach is to treat social media as a way to humanize the practice and engage people with it. We advise our practices not to take social media too seriously all the time and to use it to show that they like to have fun. Games, contests, polls about things that are unrelated to dentistry, impromptu pictures and videos are all ways to make your practice’s social media more approachable and engaging.
Sell Your Practice, Not Your Services
Dental practices are everywhere, especially in suburban areas, and all of them offer roughly the same set of services, with some exceptions, of course. Unless your practice is highly specialized in a specific area, it is hard for patients to understand what makes it unique just from the information available online. When we meet with a dentist for the first time, we always ask them what they are doing to communicate to patients that they are unique. Most of them don’t really know how to answer. If marketing communications focus mostly on the types of services the practice offers and not on the things the practice does to make the patient’s experience great, then they are missing the mark. Social media, online reviews, and monthly emails and blogs are all excellent opportunities to show patients what sets the practice apart
Marketing Isn’t Only Online
Marketing is an ongoing process that includes every single patient interaction, whether online, on the phone, or in person. The practice should be striving to provide a great experience from the moment a patient reaches out. For instance, if a patient completes an online form to request an appointment, is there an immediate response, or does that inquiry go unanswered for a day or three or more? A quick response to a patient’s inquiry is always going to be appreciated, but unfortunately, it’s not the norm. Since patients usually have plenty of dental practices to choose from, it will be easy for them to move on to a different one if yours doesn’t respond in a timely manner. If your practice is consistently responsive, then the next step is to think about how that response is formulated. Is it inviting? Does it continue to convey what makes the practice unique? What about when patients call on the phone? Is the team member answering the phone treating the call as an opportunity to create rapport? All of these interactions are important because they are all opportunities to build trust and show patients that your practice is truly outstanding.
When your practice streamlines its marketing communications and understands how to identify all the opportunities to create the best possible experience for the patient, then it can dramatically increase the number of successful patient interactions. Eliminating the fluff, focusing on what’s important to patients, and treating each patient interaction as an opportunity to distinguish your practice from the competition are the pillars of good communication.