Dentists have a unique marketing challenge. You have to overcome fear and anxiety, because even adults who think of themselves as fearless can quail at the thought of going to the dentist. They’re secretly looking for reasons to avoid visiting you, so you have to replace their fears with trust.
More than for other types of businesses, potential patients want to know exactly what to expect when they make an appointment and walk through your door. Your marketing can help establish a comfortable relationship before you even meet one another, building trust and confidence that you will be the right choice.
Start with the basics: tell people who you are and what you do.
- Your credentials. The first step toward trust is knowing you are well-educated and up-to-date on the latest treatments and techniques. Do you have specialized additional training or accreditation?
- Your people. Prospective patients want to know you’ll be nice to them, too. You can say you and your staff are “caring,” but how do you demonstrate that to patients? Are you especially friendly and welcoming? Skilled at putting kids at ease? Your office feels comfortable rather than “medical”?
- The services your practice offers. Are you a general dentist? An orthodontist? Do you offer whitening or other elective procedures or specialize in implants?
Third party recommendations.
You cannot underestimate the importance of this. It’s not just a matter of acquiring word-of-mouth referrals. People now look for advice from total strangers as well as friends and family because they’re unbiased. When people talk about your practice and post reviews, they are marketing on your behalf.
- Post some of your best reviews in your waiting area, and share them via social media.
- Ensure you’re listed on all key local sites where people post reviews, such as Google+, Yelp, etc. and make sure your profile is fully developed so new viewers can learn as much as possible about you while checking out your reviews.
- Promote your presence on those sites — on your website, at your reception desk, in your emails and monthly newsletter.
- Ask for testimonials when you send email follow-ups to patients. And ask them to post a review for you.
- Do a social media and/or website promotion asking patients to share their favorite experience with you or your practice. Then share some of those stories in blog articles and, of course, use short excerpts as testimonials on your website, on your postcard marketing and so on.
Apply for business awards.
Nearly all local chambers of commerce, service groups, dental associations, even business magazines and the US Small Business Administration give business awards. Usually you have to nominate yourself, so don’t be shy. Just being considered is an honor, and if you win, that’s a real boost to your credibility because awards are another form of third-party acknowledgement about the quality of your practice. Awards provide free marketing, too.
Promote any awards you have already received – dentist of the year, volunteer of the year, etc.
All these things humanize your practice and underscore the fact that you, your staff and/or your practice are caring community neighbors. People overtly look for these traits in local businesses, and this sets you apart.
Building trust and confidence in your dental practice can be a tall order, and it’s a serious business. But that doesn’t mean you have to be stuffy about it. Showing a lighter side of yourself personalizes you in ways the factual side of your marketing cannot. Use photos of yourself smiling with your family or posing with your fishing rod. Incorporate humor in your marketing from time to time. Talk about your community activities.
When prospects see you’re a highly skilled professional who is also a caring, approachable individual, they will have the confidence to pick up the phone and make an appointment.