This article originally appeared in the October/2022 issue of the Academy of General Dentistry’s AGD Impact magazine.
How to market clear aligners at your practice
By: Jackie Ulasewich Cullen
With the surging popularity of clear aligners among orthodontists and dentists alike, the landscape for offering this treatment has become ultra competitive. A dental practice wanting to capitalize on the opportunity to offer clear aligners to its patients or one looking to boost the number of clear aligner cases it treats should implement a comprehensive marketing strategy as part of its plan to attract the right kinds of patients.
Why take on a comprehensive marketing strategy and not just send out a flyer and put it on the website? A comprehensive marketing strategy builds awareness through multiple channels and typically results in greater success in the near term and over time. Thinking comprehensively also makes the most effective use of marketing resources to achieve a specific revenue or new patient goal.
If a practice wants to focus on clear aligners, it is first important to understand that most patients are already familiar with the major brand names on the market and can relate to generic terms like “clear aligners”. Unless the practice is offering the most widely known brand of clear aligners, it should steer clear of mentioning brand names, even to make comparisons, so that patients can easily understand and identify the idea behind what they are reading or hearing.
The first step in establishing a comprehensive strategy around clear aligners is to show potential patients the benefits of treatment. A good place to start is taking advantage of all digital media channels, beginning with the practice’s blog. The practice should add clear aligners as a regular topic in the rotation, blogging about it every couple of months. For existing patients, email is a great tool for raising awareness about clear aligners and their benefits. Social media is another essential piece in a comprehensive marketing strategy. Posting regularly about clear aligners will reinforce the messages of the blogs and emails. Social media posts can link directly to the blog, and they can also include pictures and brief video testimonials. The flexibility and brevity of social media makes it easy for a practice to post about the same topic often without exhausting it, so the practice can revisit clear aligners pretty regularly without having to worry about seeming redundant. Along with blogging, emails, and social media, team members should be talking about clear aligners, and there should also be a special section on the practice’s homepage that briefly introduces clear aligners, with a call to action button that sends patients to a dedicated clear aligners landing page that delves deeper into the treatment and highlights all the ways it can benefit patients.
Overall, messaging — in blogs, emails, and on social media — should focus mostly on the benefits for clear aligners. These channels are meant to introduce clear aligners and their benefits, not go into the technicalities of the treatment. Writing and posting about clear aligners in a positive way, focusing on how treatment can improve a patient’s life will resonate with patients who are uncertain about how treatment could personally benefit them. Emails and social media posts can also include patient testimonials, also in video form, and before/after pictures. The person in the office in charge of marketing can take pictures and or videos of patients on their last day of treatment to show how happy they are with the results. Adding these types of elements gives patients something more concrete to relate to. Seeing real results and reading other patients’ success stories will drive some people who are on the fence to inquire about clear aligners.
Beyond explaining the benefits of clear aligners, messaging can also explain how they are different from traditional braces, highlighting the key features that make clear aligners more appealing, such as the fact that they are far less noticeable as well as removable. A well-rounded campaign should cover the reasons why clear aligners are often a more convenient choice than traditional metal braces, especially for adults, and what they can do to improve a patient’s oral health. Other content can be created to explain how getting clear aligners from a dental practice is more reliable than the online options. It should educate patients about what they are getting (or rather not getting) when they opt for the online only version of clear aligners and never see a dentist during treatment.
A solid online marketing strategy will also enhance any offline activities the practice undertakes, such as a clear aligner discount day or a raffle. Any activities initiated in the office can be advertised online, especially through social media, to bring attention to them, the purpose being to drive more patients to book appointments.
With a comprehensive marketing strategy like what I have outlined here, a dental practice should be able to generate significantly more clear aligner business and likely even gain a competitive advantage over other practices in the area. The key is to be committed to the strategy, not only to the various facets involved, but also to the time it will take to implement and maintain them. It helps to have a professional marketing agency to take on the burden of creating the blogs, emails, social media posts, website landing page, and any other content. That way, the practice can continue to focus on treating patients, and the marketing agency can focus on driving in more business.