Understanding your patients

The proper beginning for any dental marketing plan is simple: know your patient. Who is your ideal patient? What makes them tick? What forms of marketing will they notice and ultimately engage with? What does a patient want most? and what do they not care about? Without answers to these questions you are blindly throwing money at unproven and unreliable resources. Some of you may feel comfortable with throwing money and hoping. Dental marketing in the yellow pages is a lot like that. The bigger the ad the more exposure right? Well I got news for you, it’s not 1985 anymore. Dental marketing today is targeted, driven, customized and engaging. However you can’t do any of that without first knowing and understanding which marketing attributes are key to potential new patients.

Your Dental Marketing Attributes

The first objective is to determine your dental marketing attributes. Marketing attributes are those skills, convinces, technology other other related attributes that set your practice apart from the competition. Simply put, why would a new patient go to your office instead of your competitors  If you don’t already know the answer or what your practice marketing attribute are,  stop reading this article pull out a pen and paper and start making a list. When you’re done come back and finish this article. (I’ll be right here)

Ok, now that you have your list where do the following rank?dental marketing roadmap

  • Dental insurance coverage
  • Price
  • Dental fees
  • Distance or geographic convenience
  • Dental technology and gadgets
  • CE and credentials

Sidebar: This is still important
It is important to note that throughout all the studies and surveys one thing is evident, there is no dental marketing silver bullet. Dental marketing takes a collective effort on multiple levels from multiple marketing attributes. Knowing and understanding the balance is key to a successful strategy. Likewise, your marketing spend should be directly correlated to the most effective dental marketing attributes.

Now although this is not a complete list of dental marketing attributes (i’m sure you came up with some good ones on your own), below are the top three most important dental marketing attributes found in a recent survey of dental patients. I hope you’re not surprised by survey results.

  • #1 Price – #1 factor when determining a new dentists was price (no surprise here)
  • #2 Technology – this is more complicated than it sounds (we’ll come back to it)
  • #3 Distance – This can mean proximity to work, kids school, home or others

Shocked? You might be looking at this list and your list and asking yourself, but where is my extensive specialty training, or hundreds of hours of continuing education credits? I hate to be the one that breaks the news to you, but they are not as nearly as important as as the first three; in fact they came in almost last. Sorry. This doesn’t mean they aren’t important, they are just less important.

Introspection: Do this often
Now that you know what potential patients think are the most important attributes, look at you dental marketing programs for the last 6 months. Did you push your low price, latest technology, or the convenience of proximity?  Was it collective, or did you focus on only one of these attributes? Evaluate your recent dental marketing pieces, if your practice utilizes the referral source field in your practice management software, pull a report of leads for the past year and evaluate what marketing attributes brought those patients in. When you come back next time we’ll dive further into these top three dental marketing attributes:

  • Price vs Perceived Price
  • Technology – you’re doing it wrong
  • Distance – a story of focus

Homework: Competitors Challenge
This week I also want you to use what you now know about the top three dental marketing attributes and elevate your competitors. Do they primarily use price to promote dentistry? Do they focus on just one aspect of technology? How do they advertise dental technology?