This article originally appeared in the July/2022 issue of the Academy of General Dentistry’s AGD Impact magazine.
Marketing Dental Implants Post-Pandemic
By: Jackie Ulasewich Cullen
As mask mandates are being lifted and fewer people are becoming severely ill with COVID-19, it may seem like the pandemic is somewhat under control, but many people are still feeling the effects, especially in terms of added stress. Unfortunately, there is still a large number of people who are experiencing increased anxiety over the pandemic, which often manifests in physical symptoms, including disorders that can affect oral health, such as bruxism. Dentists all over the country are seeing the effects of this heightened anxiety in their patients now that they have started coming back for their regular cleanings, as well as in new patients who have seen their dental health deteriorate since the start of the pandemic and are looking for treatment. To serve these patients, who may not even realize or understand what is happening, it is important for dentists to understand how to effectively reach them, capture their attention, and alert them to treatments, such as dental implants, that will improve their overall health.
Dental practices are in a unique position to help patients who have been suffering undue stress related to the pandemic, which in turn, will result in an expanded customer base and increased, sustainable revenue. From a marketing perspective, this is an opportunity not only to grow the practice, but also to educate patients who might otherwise not know what to do about their oral health problems. Taking advantage of all available marketing channels, not just traditional ones, is the best way to find the patients who could benefit from treatments like dental implants as a way to restore their oral health after two highly stressful years that have wreaked havoc on their oral health.
Information about dental implants has made its way into the mainstream, which means that more and more patients are aware of the treatment and even have a cursory knowledge of what it entails. Some of these patients believe that dental implants will solve their oral health problems, while others may be wondering if implants could benefit them. In either case, these patients need more information, and they are most likely to be looking for it online. Therefore, it is vitally important that any dentist wanting to attract this type of patient have an online presence, at the very least.
Running a marketing campaign that focuses on dental implants is often a good starting point for enhancing and expanding a practice’s online presence simply because of the growing popularity of marketing for the treatment in mainstream media, including on TV. Patients are hearing about dental implants and want to know if their local dental practice offers it. Having a digital marketing campaign geared around implants is an excellent way to capture these potential patients. However, as with any direct campaign, patients will contact the practice who may not be a candidate for the procedure, and it is up to the dentist to thoroughly evaluate each patient to determine a treatment plan that will meet their specific needs. And we have found that oftentimes these campaigns generate great new patients with other treatment needs.
It is a mistake to think that any patient looking for a specific treatment is going to simply walk through the door or call on the phone to book an appointment. These days, patients are more inclined to research treatments and dentists before reaching out. If a dentist does not have an online presence, they will be overlooked by patients who are searching for answers. In an environment where digital dominates, dental practices should be considering all the ways they can get in front of prospective patients, especially when focusing on dental implants, since competition for implant patients is becoming fierce in a growing number of markets.
One important point to keep in mind is that running a targeted marketing campaign should involve multiple channels, with the majority of them being digital, so as to reach as many prospective patients as possible. Using traditional media such as postcards, is just not enough anymore. Even if a patient reads the postcard and is interested in contacting the practice, the first thing they are going to do is look online for more information. If the practice does not have a website, or the website is outdated or too generic, or the URL on the postcard takes them to the homepage rather than a page dedicated to dental implants, they are far less likely to pursue the matter further. Additionally, if the postcard does not feature dental implants, but just lists a menu of services including implants, the message becomes diluted, and the patient is going to move on. In short, if a practice wants to attract a specific type of patient, its marketing efforts must be specific and highly targeted to that particular patient. Digital marketing only serves to enhance the message of traditional marketing, and is therefore an essential component in a well-executed marketing plan.
Many practices rely heavily on traditional marketing, like postcards, which often end up being ineffective, because, again, patients are looking for information online, especially now, after many people were cut off from society because of lockdowns. Digital is the go-to medium. It’s safe. It’s comforting. That is why it is crucial for a dental practice to take advantage of all the digital arena has to offer.
The larger a practice’s online presence, the higher the probability that patients will find it. When marketing a specific treatment, like dental implants, in a post-pandemic environment to people who have been suffering, often in isolation, and are looking for relief, it is important to have digital content that doesn’t just sell, but also educates in order to capture their attention and build their trust at the same time. To that end, practices should be creating landing pages dedicated to the benefits of dental implants, with patient testimonials and before and after pictures to increase the practice’s credibility. The dentist should be writing articles and blog posts on the subject to increase their authority in regard to the procedure. Social media content should direct patients to the landing page, the blog, and any other related content that the practice has published. It should be an intense effort, focused on a single topic to reinforce the benefits of the treatment for patients just like them.
One mistake dental practices make is focussing too much on the technicalities and the features of dental implants. While the technical aspects are certainly important, they will not compel a patient to take action. Of course, patients want to know that they will be getting the highest quality materials and the most experienced practitioner, but what they want deep down is hope for their future. That is why a technical approach to marketing is rarely effective. So, rather than explain the details of implants, marketing should show patients how implants can give them a better life. This approach should be repeated across all marketing channels, traditional and digital, to send a consistent message no matter where or how the patient finds it. Digital marketing needs to support traditional marketing channels and vice versa.
Another mistake practices make is letting patients walk out the door for good. When marketing is done correctly, it drives in new patients who book appointments for consultations. However, that should never be the end of the practice’s marketing efforts. In fact, once the consultation is over, if the patient does not decide right then and there to follow through with treatment, the practice should have a plan in place to continue marketing to that patient until they do. When a patient sits down for a consultation, and the dentist goes through the effort of completing and explaining a treatment plan, to let that patient leave without ever following up is a waste of the dentist’s valuable time, and nobody wins in that situation. The patient clearly needs the treatment, whether it ends up being dental implants or the dentist determined that another treatment would be more suitable. Not following up with that patient when they do not immediately commit to treatment is doing them a disservice. It also leaves revenue on the table.
The post-pandemic marketing landscape can be sensitive from a marketing perspective, but there are definitely opportunities for dentists to serve patients whose dental health has suffered over the last two years. Dental implants is one of those opportunities. Marketing to patients who will benefit from implants will net results, if done correctly, and that means sending the right message, consistently, using multiple digital channels and following up with patients who may need time to decide about committing to treatment.