How your dental practice can win against your competition using strategies from the entire patient journey!
Are you leveraging the patient journey in your marketing? New patients who are searching for a dental practice are on a noisy ride with demanding soundbites from recommendations, reviews, websites, online ads, new patient specials, videos, social media posts, postcards, newsletters and emails... just to name a few. It's noisy out there!
Patients have choices and make their decision is based on multiple factors, but…
Is your brand voice being heard? Is your practice breaking through the noise?
With technology and tools available today, your practice can be the #1 choice of new patients. However, as a dentist, marketing might be an area of your business that is confusing and daunting … even feared. You know you must develop a brand that speaks to your community, but how?
In this blog, I will touch on the Patient Journey and how Dr. Shauna Friedman has cracked the code using a diverse, holistic dental marketing strategy in which her fear around building her brand has dissolved so that she can now concentrate on what matters most – her patients, time with family, and a great income.
Successful, profitable dental practices are, in reality, marketing businesses. Yes, it’s true!
Marketing is a core function of your business that is tied directly to your bottom-line revenue … and that’s because marketing has everything to do with your practice’s ability to be seen and heard throughout the entire Patient Journey.
Each step of the Patient Journey has custom-fitted marketing strategies that allow your practice to stand out from your competition.
When the strategy is synergistic, measured, and innovative on an ongoing basis, it will meet the demands of patients, cut through the noise, and get those potential patients to notice and call your practice.
It can all sound daunting when you are the expert on dental treatment and not on marketing your practice.
That’s where the right marketing partner can help. Take a look at these key steps in the Patient Journey and the tips I’ve included.
The 5 Key Areas Of The Patient Journey
1. Practice Awareness
The most overlooked area of marketing in dentistry is where it all starts – practice awareness.
Patients and prospects must know who you are and be continually reminded of your brand. Many marketing companies talk about the patient journey starting with a search, they’re missing a huge opportunity. What about all the prospects that aren’t actively searching for a dental practice?
Before you say, “but they’re not even looking for a dentist,” think about how many times you’ve walked into a store with no intention to buy and walked out with a bag of goods. You bought that product or service because it was offering something you couldn’t resist (think new-patient special) or didn’t know about before but it meets your needs (think emergency dentistry or teeth whitening special).
Through direct marketing techniques such as a monthly neighborhood newsletters or community outreach, your practice can keep your brand top-of-mind for prospects that haven’t begun their search for a dental practice.
2. Consideration & Research
A toothache can trigger a prospect to begin their search for a dentist and in turn, the 2nd phase of the patient journey begins. Remember if practice awareness was not performed well from a marketing standpoint, the consideration phase becomes much more difficult to succeed at.
Your website and online reputation are two areas on which you should focus. Starting with the basics,
- Is your website built to help new patients choose you, or is it overwhelming and perhaps even confusing?
- Do you have more reviews and a higher star rating than your neighboring competitor? (A recent study by ConStat says that 97% of people read reviews for local businesses.)
If not, you could be losing potential new patients every day, which is why you must always be aware of your online stats – what people are most interested in, where they abandon your site without calling … and what people are saying about you and your practice in Google and Facebook reviews – and you must respond to them.
3. Buying Decision & Conversion
The big moment in the Patient Journey – when all your marketing has come together to drive the patient to the phone or your front door – has arrived! And there is no room for error, as this phase of the journey can make the difference between an unaffordable cost-per-acquisition or a healthy ROI.
As dental professionals, a huge, critical, and mandatory part of your team’s job is persuasion.
- Front desk staff must control and craft every phone call and persuade patients to book and attend their appointments.
- Your hygiene team must persuade patients to improve their homecare routines.
- You and your treatment coordinators persuade patients to accept recommendations.
In his book, The Elite Practice Formula, Dan Kennedy says, “Business involves humans, especially humans interacting with customers. Systems for, and true mastery of, recruiting, training, motivation, and effective enforcement of best practices are crucial.”
Do you know how your front desk is handling calls? What is your conversion success rate? Are your team members asking the right questions? Are they upselling? Are the asking for the appointment? Is your excellent customer service a top practice differentiator that sets you apart from your competition?
4. Patient Experience
Your dental practice marketing is not only about getting the patient to the front door. Phase 4 is the ongoing experience that keeps the loyalty loop spinning so that you have an ongoing revenue stream that builds your production coffers.
This means ongoing patient education, referrals, reactivation of lapsing patients, and patient loyalty campaigns. Just like you promote ongoing hygiene to your patients for optimum health, we as a marketing agency promote ongoing marketing for a great patient experience and optimum business health.
5. Advocacy & Growth
Last but far from least. Patients who are advocates are ones that tell the world how great you are and bring new patients to your practice. They are the ones who elevate your brand through word-of-mouth and online reviews. They are the sticky ones who provide you with top lifetime revenue.
Sprout Social says, “Now that 92% of customers seek social recommendations before buying, advocates are a powerful part of your marketing strategy.”
To cover off this phase of the patient journey, make sure…
- your practice is involved in your community in the schools, at health fairs, etc.
- you have a program to encourage referrals, e.g. referral cards tucked in with your patient newsletter that asks for referrals
- you are following up after appointments to check on recovery and to rebook a patient who slipped through the cracks.
- your social media humanizes your brand and speaks to your patients using your unique voice.
This phase of advocacy and practice growth is key to ongoing marketing success. You’ve worked so hard to get your patients, so don’t lose them! Some practices we work with are shocked to learn that their “loyal” patients are attriting faster than they can get new patients through the door. And we all know what that means…
I want to close with a quick word about our client Dr. Shana Friedman, specifically about her use of Practice ZEBRATM that connects practice and marketing intelligence to improve practice performance at every phase of the Patient Journey. It also enhances her patients’ experience of her practice.
Please take just 3 minutes to watch the video below to learn more about how Dr. Friedman is winning against her competition by using strategies across the entire patient journey.
Afterwards, I challenge you to look into each area of the patient journey and ask yourself, is my practice breaking through the noise? No Then know that with the right strategy and marketing partner (I know an excellent one 😉), your practice can get in front of the Patient Journey just like Dr. Friedman has.