Happy Dental Marketing New Year!

Focused stand-out zebra with black, white, and red stripes looks directly into the camera

Well, it’s 2022, 22 years after the start of the new millennium. At Patient NEWS, in 1999, we were excited because we added silver to our then two-color newsletters and watched the clock for the Internet to break at midnight! That was just a bad rumor, but it was the chatter at the end of 1999!

2021 was a recovery year for dental offices, and the end-of-year activity has been incredible as more and more dental offices and groups line up to set stronger and more aggressive marketing strategies in place for 2022. There is a HUGE opportunity. Experts say the dental market is expected to grow by an incredible $15 billion by 2027.

At the same time, consumer expectations have dramatically changed. Consumers want to feel more appreciated and understood, they want better communications, and they want ease of use. Two-thirds of consumers change companies because of a less-than-stellar experience.

As you look back on 2021, what happened in your world? What do you want more of and what less?

For us, “supply-chain” became a term we were forced to get intimate with. Paper! It became a scarce commodity everyone wanted – LOL – because direct mail is more appreciated and more effective than ever, and our team had to work their butts off finding paper to deliver our mail. They did it. They rawk! The job isn’t over, but we’re fighting a good fight. Heads up – get your approval to your account manager sooner than later to guarantee your mailings go on time. Don’t delay.

And vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca … and “boosters,” molecular, PCR, antigen, rapid-test, workplace COVID-19 policies. What did you get? When’s your appointment? Where’s your passport? Let me see your ID. We are so proud of our industry; our dentists, hygienists, assistants, and teams are infection control kings, keeping everyone safe and delivering important, “essential” (yes!) dental care.

QR Codes. They’re a thing again! Which means you really need to remember your glasses when you go to a restaurant now! QR codes are also bringing offline and online marketing together and helping to maximize ROI! Just don’t try putting a code on your highway billboard. Yes, I’ve seen that. Haha.

TikTok, I’m addicted. It’s like bad television that’s great! And, so proud that TikTok’s The Bentist, Dr. Ben Winters, with 11.5 million followers, chose Patient NEWS to build his dental website. That’s a pretty cool thing that happened to us! We love you, Ben & Megan!

Captain Kirk went into space. Kim divorced Kanye. Friends reunited. Bennifer is back. “Levitating” was the #1 billboard song of the year. I got a new puppy 😊, and our holiday gift celebrates the DAWG (dogs at work group) philosophy of Patient NEWS, started in 1997 with iconic Bernese/border crosses Henry & Heidi.

Economists are optimistic that price surges will subside, operations will return to a new normal, and there will continue to be growth in 2022. And we see that with our client production – significant month-over-month growth (with only a slight dip in September) since December of 2020. Staffing shortages are affecting dental offices across the country – dental consultants recommend that dental owners pay above grade to get solid team members. The most successful dental offices have always done this, and they add incentives for call handling and appointment conversion. A great investment when you consider that each new patient contributes around $1,800 annually to the top line. And adding about 50 new patients per month per practitioner really strengthens practice results and valuation.

Industry consolidation and the rise of group organizations continue. Per ADA, back in 1999, two-thirds of dental offices were solo, now just half are, and DSO participation has grown by 40% in just the last three years. That makes a very competitive landscape to deal with, especially for solo dentists. We are here for you solo doctors, and we are here for our emerging groups and DSO clients. What we aren’t here for – anything not dental – we are EXCLUSIVE to the dental industry 😊.

The patient journey is an important consideration for dental practice growth in 2022. From awareness to lifelong advocates who post positive reviews, practice communication must be spot on. You want to target your best prospects and provide a winning experience offline and online. A survey by AAE revealed that 28% of patients didn’t schedule or forgot to schedule a dental visit due to the pandemic. Our client data shows that 25% of patients are currently lapsing, having had no transaction with their dentist in the past nine months. Are you reaching 100% of your patients through your current marketing strategies?

Here’s what to do for 2022 on that front:

  • Work to obtain over 90% of all patient email and cell contact information so that your automated communications can reach them.
  • Schedule patients to return before they leave an appointment.
  • Make sure you have a fast website that’s up to date, clean, and modern.
  • MAIL a patient (quarterly) and targeted neighborhood (monthly) newsletter consistently. This is THE ONLY WAY TO REACH 100% of YOUR patients and community. And it’s educational, so it’s the right thing to do for your patients and community, and because of that, YOU stand out as the expert in your field that people should turn to first.

So good news, dentists, over 30% of consumers snacked on more sweets due to the pandemic, so they will probably hit new year’s resolutions with a bang. Get your communications out to your patients and area residents when they’re in that mode, before they drop off and forget resolutions. You can be the dentist they notice when they decide to get back to the gym and take their health more seriously. Don’t forget gum disease is called the silent disease because people don’t notice it until it’s a big deal. Patients need education, and you have the platform to help.

OK, this blog post is all over the map – but hey, it’s 2022, it’s a new year, and it’s going to be another fun ride. Enjoy. Work hard. Play hard. Laugh. Life will unfold. Choose to be positive. You can do what you can do with what you know and learn. Because, as Karen Galley, President, said at our holiday event in December (after recently losing her mom), “it’s all over far too soon.” Here’s to a great 2022! Cheers.