Back in the day, doctors and dentists were taught to believe that any form of advertising was bad, it seemed unethical to “chase” clients. If a dentist had a marketing plan, it was “building a referral base”. But word of mouth is one of the hardest plans to control, and word of mouth takes time–it is never a fast process and the results are difficult to measure.
What is necessary for a successful marketing plan? “Social media is absolutely necessary in today’s market,” says Dr. Jacqueline Allen, whose endodontic practice started small and has grown as he acquired a total of 3 practices over the last 12 years.
Print isn’t really the medium of choice anymore. Once upon a time, a listing in the phone book was the first advertising medium a dental practice purchased. Today, web-based media is vital: Google, Google +, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and consumer-driven sites like Yelp. Social media is the common denominator among patients seeking medical providers. In today’s market, using social media is a matter of survival. Even the well-respected Mayo Clinic has a social media discussion page.
How do you know what to say on social networks? “Look at your audience,” says Dr. Allen. “If your patients are largely older people, the comfort of your patient reception are is important. Our elderly patients often will have a friend or spouse drive them to their appointment, the driver waits in our office until the procedure is done. Uncomfortable chairs spells unhappy patients, and that can mean a reluctance to show up,” she adds.
Letting your potential patients know your office is comfortable can be achieved by putting photos on your website, but it’s a lot more effective to put those same photos on a Facebook page, which is seen by a wider audience. A Facebook page also gives you a chance to say something about the comfort and why you chose the chairs. Explaining the choice of chairs moves the idea from feature (a characteristic of your office) to a benefit (something that makes your patients feel cared for). Showing your potential patients that their comfort is important to you says a lot about your philosophy of caring and will creative a positive opinion about you as a dentist.
Marketing yourself and your office is both a science and an art, and every dental marketing plan should include social media.