Are you surprised that the economy is hitting you for the first time – now?

Was your practice holding its own when the economy tanked and at the time you thought “I’m okay, dentistry is recession proof,” and all that?

And now you find that your monthly production numbers are sliding a little – maybe a little more than a little? You thought the worst would have come in 2009, but it didn’t, its happening now. You’re not alone. Dentists that are contacting Patient News for the first time are consistently reporting the same phenomenon. They’re recognizing the fact that they should have been consistently marketing when times were good. Now, without the influx of new patients, attrition numbers are starting to eat away at production. If you, like many dental practices, took your production for granted, don’t worry. You can turn this around now.

When times are hard and money is tight, people look for comfort from the familiar and are reassured by well-known brands. What’s the answer?

  1. Raise your visibility through external patient acquisition marketing.
  2. Knock the wind out of your competitors’ sails by clearly differentiating your practice
  3. Add a regular value-added communication to your patients-of-record, and don’t limit communication to simply active patients. You probably have a goldmine sitting in your inactive patient base. Remember that 50% of people still avoid regular dental visits – those are your patients too – and it’s proven that “perceived indifference” causes client defection more than even a bad servicing experience. When was the last time you reached out to your patients other than to remind them of an appointment or to collect money?

The benefits of consistent marketing have been well documented during wave after wave of recessions. For example, several famous studies independently cited sales increases of 250% – 275% among firms that marketed aggressively during the 1980-82 recession period and that they continued to outperform competitors post-recession. That trend has continued.

If you are marketing, think about your messaging. We’re witnessing a trend towards educational content, overall mouth/body information, periodontal treatment, many practices moving from a strong emphasis on cosmetics, to new minimally invasive technologies that catch caries sooner, treatments that are completed in only one visit, minimally invasive and pain free methods, tmd and snoring therapies and oral cancer screenings. Special offers are available to new and existing patients, and referral contests include high ticket items like HD TVs – you might have less than a dozen patients actively participating, but you’ll generate more than dozen new patients from the contest!

Another way to ramp up patient activity on a budget is to consider the complimentary practices in your area. If you’re feeling the pinch, it’s likely your nearby dermatologist is too. Combine your resources to market to your community. Merge your patient bases for a joint internal cross-marketing campaign. One quick tip, make sure that the servicing level your patients are going to receive will not negatively impact their impression of your practice.

And at any time, call Patient News to get expert advice and free information on marketing your dental practice.