Between handling back-to-back appointments, making sure your support staff is set up for success, and doing everything else necessary to keep your orthodontic practice running smoothly, chances are you don’t have the time, budget or know-how to create and implement a large-scale marketing strategy. But in today’s competitive healthcare space, where one poor patient review can affect your reputation and bottom line, it’s important to make marketing a priority.
Compared to dentists, your target market is smaller and your patients come and go more frequently — but these differences can actually work to your advantage. Here are 5 marketing strategies that are easy to implement, cost-effective and likely to yield relatively quick results.
1. Build relationships with area dentists
Referrals from dentists are one of the best ways to get new patients. Dental patients already know they need your services, whether it’s now or later. And, if a patient trusts and values their dentist, they’re likely to trust you as well. Establishing relationships and building strong a rapport with area dentists will make them more likely to refer their patients to you.
- Carve out time in your schedule each month to meet local dentists for coffee and attend networking events where colleagues gather.
- Find ways to stay connected to your dentist network — e.g., by sending them interesting, relevant industry articles.
- Send them thank-you notes for every patient referral.
2. Think local
Having a Facebook page is the first step in addressing Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But, you should take the next step, too:
- Allocate a portion of your marketing budget to local Facebook ads or Google Adwords campaigns. These advertising channels can be an effective way to target parents whose children need braces and people who are thinking about Invisalign.
Another great way to build up your client base is by establishing a presence in the community and making personal connections with prospective patients.
- Think about setting up a table at a local event, sponsoring a sports team, or donating your services at a fundraiser.
3. Create content
You must think like a marketer if you want to keep your patient panel full. Creating timely, relevant content not only improves your search rankings, it also helps position you as a trusted expert.
- Post educational, “evergreen” content on your websites, e.g., articles like “How To Care For Braces” and “5 Foods To Avoid When You Have Braces.”
- Also feature other types of content, such as blog posts, videos and free downloads.
- Follow best practice by sharing this content on your social media channels. For example, you could create demonstration videos in which you walk patients through procedures to put them at ease.
4. Offer incentives
Since orthodontic care is costly and often not covered by insurance, offering specials for new patients is one of the best marketing strategies to get new faces in the door. Here are different ways to approach patient incentives:
- Offer free consultations for new patients, a discount on certain services, special packages, or value-added extras that don’t cost you much.
- Give a discount to patients who pay in full, up front.
- Reward patients who provide referrals with gift cards to a local store or a discount on their next service.
5. Ask for feedback
After patients search online for orthodontists or turn to social media for referrals, they’re looking at ratings and reading reviews. They want to know what other patients think of you and how satisfied they are with your services. Online reviews can also help improve your SEO rankings, so they should be an important part of your overall marketing strategy.
- Ask for patient feedback in a timely manner — send them a note right after their appointment to increase the chances they’ll leave a review. You can do this by sending an email with links to your Google+ page, Facebook page or Zocdoc profile.
- Monitor and respond to any negative reviews, and work to resolve the issues patients bring up. This will show prospective patients that customer satisfaction is important to you.