All you have to do is open a dental practice and patients will come to you, right? It would be great if your practice or your website really worked that way. Unfortunately, they don't, but there is a technique that makes it easier. It's referred to as inbound marketing because it brings new prospects and patients to your website. It can save you valuable time over ineffective outbound strategies such as mail drops or print advertising.
The Most Common Dental Marketing Problems
I'm a Dentist, Not a Marketer!
Dentists often do not have enough time to become experts in marketing. While your practice may need a steady stream of new patients, finding them can become a full-time job in itself. This is not a task that can be just handed over to your team. Without a clear pathway forward, this can quickly grow to be overwhelming.
Bigger Corparates Can Afford Expensive Advertising
It's frustrating to see dental ads on TV, billboards or Google for competitors and know how much those practices must have spent to get that kind of exposure. If the cost to acquire new patients is that high, your practice will need a great deal more business before it can afford that kind of marketing. It's a vicious cycle.
The Old Ways Don't Work As Well Anymore
As part of the traditional healthcare industry, the average dental practice used to rely on a steady stream of local community support. That's gone now. Dental practices have to fight for patients like any other business. Some are winning in this new market and some are getting left behind. You know where you need to be, but not how to get there.
People Shy Away From Dental Websites
Patients often treat dental visits as a “should” instead of a “want.” Going to a dentist's website is even further down on the average patients's priority list unless there is a serious problem. All the conversion tactics in the world won't help you unless there is sufficient website traffic to your site at the top of your the marketing funnel.
Nobody Knows Who I Am
Competition is mounting and it can be extremely tough to build a brand in the dental industry. Everyone needs dental care, but “everyone” is not a market segment, so targeting is complicated. As a result, advertising and marketing don't drive enough business and there's no way to tell what works.
How can any business make itself heard above all that noise? It's not impossible. The secret is inbound marketing.
Steps Along the Path to a New Way That Does Work
The easier it has become to talk, the harder it has become to hear. As communications technologies rapidly developed over the past century, people gained the ability to connect across vast distances and relay messages at the speed of sound. This process brought about the internet and the web, where 4.6 billion pieces of content are published every single day. As a result, humanity has generated more bits of information over the past 30 years that we have since the dawn of writing 5,000 years ago. How can any business make itself heard above all that noise? It's not impossible. The secret is inbound marketing.
Step 1: Investigate Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing, seizes the attention of your existing and prospective patients, drawing them to your website to find out more about you and your practice. Instead of reaching out to interrupt the lives of prospective patients by buying ads, sending them emails or mail dropping individuals, you will publish educational content on your site that answers their questions.
Step 2: Understand Push vs. Pull
Traditional marketing could only be a push medium. That means that messages were pushed out to everyone, whether or not the information was relevant to the lives of individuals. People got used to sitting through interminable ads about things that didn't matter to them. The web is a pull medium, where people go online to find the information they need with search engines, personalised recommendations and social media newsfeeds.
Step 3: Respond to the Reasons Why People Lost Faith
The first reason people lost faith in dental marketing emerged from the nature of push media channels. The proliferation of messages that patients had to ignore to get to the information they need. The second reason is that the ease of creating messages led to lots of deceptive advertising. Today, the Edelman Trust Barometer reports that 63% of consumers must hear company claims three to five times before they consider believing them. The third major destroyer of faith was the creation of pull technology. Now the power to find relevant information is in the hands of anyone with a smartphone, mobile device or computer connected to the web. To reach these prospective patients, you have to provide content that is useful to them.
Step 4: See What Inbound Marketing Means for Your Practice
Generating content for your ideal patients means understanding them first. You need research to discover the persona of the ideal patient for your practice. Using the persona as a base, you can then lay out the stages of your unique buyer's journey. This map outlines what motivates them to take the next step and what kind of content will simplify that journey for them. You'll be able to clearly see what kind of blogs, ebooks, videos, and other types of content you will need for each section.
The time has come for your marketing to evolve from push to pull. It's not enough to just open your doors and hang up a sign. Now you need to give new patients a good reason to come inside. The first step to solving your dental marketing problems it to sit down and plan your online marketing strategy with this new understanding of how inbound works. Don't just follow someone else's tactics. Think about who the ideal patients would be for your practice and what kind content would resonate with them. Your plan will turn the “what” into a “how” – describing exactly how this content will be delivered to bring in the maximum number of new patients to your website and your practice. At the end of it all, you'll have a detailed inbound strategy document for growing your business online.