Keys to successful internal dental marketing
Many practices think of “dental marketing” in terms of recall postcards, pay-per-click ads, word- of-mouth referrals or other forms of external marketing. However, the most important place to focus your marketing efforts is the patients sitting in your waiting room.
The general rule of thumb in dentistry is that for every $100 you prescribe in a treatment plan, you can expect patients to follow through on completing $38 worth. By not pursuing patients to complete the full treatment plan, you’re leaving a lot of potential revenue on the table.
Internal dental marketing is key to exceeding the $38 average and growing your practice from the inside. Unlike external dental marketing, internal dental marketing costs very little, generates significant revenue, and is easy to implement.
The number 1 secret to internal dental marketing is teaching your staff to teach, which can greatly reduce patient anxiety as it increases treatment acceptance.
Dentistry is daunting to patients because it’s unfamiliar. The instruments, clinical setting and even the vocabulary you use everyday can all be intimidating to patients, especially if they are nervous or experiencing pain.
Internal dental marketing Fact #1:
Patients are more likely to accept a treatment plans when they can understand why they need it, what you’ll do, and how it will improve their lives.
Teaching your staff to teach starts with the initial patient interaction. For example: a patient calls your practice; they have a hot tooth and are in a lot of pain. Educate your front desk person to recognize the urgency of the situation and respond with something authoritative and reassuring like: “If you’re in pain we need to see you. If the tooth is infected the pain will only get worse. Let me see if I can squeeze you in today.” Giving the front desk person the license to teach about dentistry is the first step in internal marketing because it helps sets the precedent for the rest of the visit.
Internal dental marketing Fact #2:
In the U.S., three of 10 people have no natural teeth in their mouths by age 65, and another three in 10 have lost half their teeth by that time.
Think of yourself as a superhero, a superhero of teeth: commissioned with the task of saving teeth everywhere! Use the time dental patients are in your chair to teach them about what you’re seeing, and the potential long-term effects if they maintain their habits. Avoid overly clinical terms and use everyday language so your message is clear. Before moving on, be sure to ask patients if they have any questions. Then send them home with follow-up brochures about oral health so they can learn more and share that information with friends and family.
Internal dental marketing Fact #3:
If you’re in the back doing a root canal you can’t stop to teach about dentistry.
Give everyone on your staff the opportunity to learn and teach. Don’t let your assistant stop at taking the X-ray. A more effective approach would include the assistant printing the digital X-ray large enough so your patients can see it, then sitting down next to them, labeling the nerve, and circling the cavity.
When the hygienist is waiting with your patient for you to join them, she can use the intra-oral camera to show the patient on the big screen where she sees some issues, what causes them and what they can do to fix it now, and prevent it in the future.
Internal dental marketing Fact #4:
Teaching and diagnosing are not the same.
Give your assistants and hygienists the ability to teach about dentistry, explain long-term effects, and potential treatment plans. When you join them in the treatment room ask the assistant or the hygienist what they see, then confirm and offer your diagnosis. The more informed your patients are the better the decisions they will make. And they will feel more secure knowing your suggestions are based on facts.
Today’s dental marketing environment is more competitive than ever. Learning to do more with what you have will be critical for practices that want to continue to grow. Teaching your team to teach is the critical first step.