Getting More Dental Patients
By Joanne Bishop | June 20, 2017
Why segmenting your audience brings focus and enhanced practice results.
The importance of identifying the right target audience of prospective patients.
Identifying only those prospective dental patients who have a high propensity to engage in your services allows you to effectively allocate resources, save time, save money, and be much more productive.
It also allows you to tailor your practice brand and marketing messaging to specifically suit your target audience. In return, your target audience will appreciate receiving relevant information related to their needs and preferences which will lead to increased response.
Do you feel frustrated with the number of inquiries you and your team must field from prospective patients that just aren’t suited to your practice (and how much time that takes)? Do you often wish your dental team could allocate that time to candidates that were ideal and qualified?
Really knowing, and I have to say, accepting a market area for what it is, can be difficult to do for many dentists. Sometimes the dental office doesn’t seem to grasp that the practice is where it is and that without a move, the households surrounding the practice are the target audience. This is where deep analysis is required. On top of knowing which households you find most desirable, you also need to know which of those WILL choose and use your services.
We’ve worked with many dentists over the years who just would not accept that homes within a certain radius of their practice – where they are actually drawing the majority of their patients-of-record – will provide the best target audience for new-patient marketing. Rather, these dentists want to stretch their reach into a neighborhood that may seem to hold desirable patients, but which is on the furthest outskirts of reasonable reach – and may stretch past a myriad of other dental offices competing for those same desirable patients.
Facts are facts. Don’t waste the bulk of your marketing dollars. Test yes. Allocate a small test budget with the understanding that it could take several years to build awareness and develop leads that will lead to conversions. Research proves that patients, in general, will not travel for dental services. But that doesn’t stop some dentists from wanting to target a high-end pocket of households that realistically is out of their reach. And if those homes offer a demographic that is different than the demographic closely surrounding the practice – which is why the dentist probably wanted to target those homes in the first place – they simply won’t respond to the “too far away it doesn’t matter how great your offer is” call to action. You’ve met these dentists – “marketing doesn’t work in my area.”
Listen up. Not only will consumers not travel for dentistry, high-end homeowners will not drive into a low-end neighborhood to engage in dental services.
Know your core.
Know the business growth phase your practice sits in within your core.
Own your core – your backyard. OWN IT first. Then work on development.
There are development zones in every market area. These are “like” areas where the demographic makeup is very similar to your core market. Once you have momentum established in your core areas and can invest in expansion, start by developing your brand and awareness within these zones. Then you may want to expand again into niche markets where you will build brand, test, and go. Your practice may be at different business growth phases within each of these market segments. Know where you sit and the length of time it will take to move from awareness to mature growth.
- Branding & Awareness – all about getting noticed
- Business Development – turning awareness into increased leads
- ROI – converting leads into patients, reactivating patients, retaining patients
- Mature Growth – momentum is established.
Successful dentists have a solid grasp of their existing patient demographic and their core markets, and they understand that you can’t leap from Phase 1 to Phase 4 in any segment (core, development, or niche) in less than 2-5 years. They understand how to target, they know their consumer preferences, and how their services marry … and therefore these dentists excel with their dental marketing campaigns and consistently get more dental patients.
Demographic information provides a composite of consumers who already choose to live and play in your dental practice market area. So how do you identify your target market? Talk to your Account Representative who will run a complete demographic analysis on your existing market, including the competitive makeup, to help you identify areas of opportunity for your dental practice. This is a critical element for the success of every new-patient marketing campaign.
Defining your target audience provides the basis for more efficient campaign development, brand messaging, and team training. Overall, target audience focus allows you to use your resources more effectively to get more dental patients.