Dentists know that in order to keep rosters full and practices strong, they need to strategically and effectively market services to new patients. However, there is another critical — and highly profitable —
Grace Rizza, the founder of Identity Dental Marketing explains that unlike external marketing for new patients that typically includes a mix of ads, websites, and other media, internal marketing for existing patients is largely driven by conversations and content that generate excitement. Dentists and staff want to inspire patients to think “wow, I really want that solution!” or “hey, I know someone who would love that solution!” Once that thought process takes root, the path to providing more services is typically straightforward for practices and very satisfying for patients.
While every practice is unique and needs to customize its mix of internal marketing programs and strategies, Identity Dental Marketing believes that all dentists should be focusing their efforts and resources on four methods to boost existing patient value.
1. Train Staff to be brand ambassadors
Staff members — and not just dentists, but hygienists and receptionists, too — should have the training and knowledge they need to provide relevant, complete and accurate information to existing patients about services, benefits, risks, costs and payment options that are available at their office.
Identity Dental Marketing knows that staff is the best internal marketing asset that practices have. Everyone who connects with existing patients in-person, over the phone, through email or across social media should be prepared to serve as a brand ambassador. Practices that need guidance in this area — and most of them do — should bring in a practice consultant to work with teams and individuals. The ROI can be remarkable.
2. Tap into persuasive power of before-and-after photos
When it comes to marketing cosmetic dental solutions that range from relatively simple whitening to comprehensive smile makeovers, few tools (if any) are as potent and persuasive as before-and-after photos. Similarly, orthodontists can amaze and inspire patients by showing them before-and-after photos of corrective jaw cases.
What makes before-and-after photos so compelling and effective, is that existing patients can instantly visualize the improvements for themselves, and vividly imagine how much happier and more confident they would be. At Identity Dental Marketing, it is believed that practices should target the solutions that their patient population is interested in, and share photos — of course, with signed release waivers — in their waiting room, on social media, through their newsletter, and so on. What’s more, before-and-after photos can be particularly effective in re-engaging patients who have disappeared for a year or two.
3. Custom digital messaging
Most people in a dental practice waiting room — whether they are patients waiting for their appointment to begin, or family members accompanying a patient are what marketing professionals dream of — a captive audience! Practices should exploit this opportunity by broadcasting custom digital messaging through their existing TVs. Programming can include before-and-after photos, information on how procedures work (e.g. whitening), promotional announcements, and so on.
“Curated and customized digital messaging also performs double duty” said Grace Rizza. “It helps reduce perceived waiting times — which boosts patient satisfaction and drives engagement.”
4. Enhance amenities
Speaking of patient satisfaction and driving engagement: it goes without saying that many patients will not be eager to spend extra time in a practice learning about new services if the environment is uncomfortable — or just plain intimidating. To avoid this pitfall, practices should focus on providing patients with a warm and welcoming experience and atmosphere throughout the office — not just the waiting room or reception area. This not only reduces their anxiety, but it makes them more open-minded and amenable to new, beneficial possibilities.