Written by: DentistryIQ Editors on May 26, 2021–
Getting new patients is at the top of almost every practice’s to-do list—not only attracting them, but also keeping the ones you have.
The secret is, there’s no real secret, just hard work and building on commonsense practices. A mix of making a good impression online, smart and strategic marketing, and building a pattern of repeatable long-term behavior is what it takes to get new dental patients on board and to keep them around for the long haul. We’ve rounded up some of our best resources to help you do just that.
Think hard about your website (it’s most likely your first impression)
These days, your most likely first encounter with a patient isn’t apt to be chairside—it’s virtual. So start with some basics. Is your website up to date and easy to navigate? An outdated website might give the impression that you don’t care about patient experiences. At the very least, update your website annually with fresh images and content.
Once you’ve fine-tuned those basics, think about how to make an emotional connection with prospective new patients. Your website should aim to create a feeling of familiarity, comfort, and likability. Avoid common pitfalls like pictures of dental instruments; instead, provide users with photos your target demographic can relate to. These days, it’s also worthwhile to keep it updated with information about COVID-19 office protocols.
Make their first phone encounter a good one
How your phone calls are being handled is a huge component to attracting new patients. Does your staff use a script? Are your phones always covered? These basic considerations can make a difference to your bottom line.
Learn some digital marketing basics
You know you want your practice to appear in Google searches, but you’re not sure how to do that. Learning some digital marketing mistakes to avoid—or even hiring a consultant—can help you appear in more searches and land more new patients.
Listen to advice from successful practices
Sean and Melinda Goolsby of Lindstrom, Minn., are a husband and wife team who increased their monthly new patients by 143% in 18 months. Their key marketing tools? Consistent postcard marketing and enhancing their mobile presence to reach more users.
Practice owner Benjamin Turnwald was eager to perform specialty procedures he had learned to perform but was initially unsure how to get referrals. By hiring an in-house marketing specialist (and doing some old-fashioned face-to-face marketing), he upped his specialty referrals from zero to 10 to 20 a month.
Be smart with social media
Social media is a powerful tool for your business’ growth and continued success, but many dentists tend to make some common mistakes. From being more strategic with your audience to honing your focus and strategy, you can easily get the word out to potential new patients.
Don’t overlook the senior demographic
Using the right platforms and presenting the right options can greatly increase your number of new older patients. Speaking of social media—keep in mind that boomers are much more likely to use Facebook than any of the other platforms. They’re also more likely than any younger generations to use it frequently; 96% of boomers with a Facebook account spend time on the platform every day. To effectively leverage senior presence on and interest in the online world, dental practices must note the differences in how boomers consume and relate to digital content.
Improve your Google My Business listing
Adding another online presence to your digital workload is probably not at the top of your wishlist, but your Google My Business listing is integral to the modern patient experience. Many patients are now starting the search for a new dentist in the Google Maps app. This free, on-demand webinar offers great direction on how to optimize your listing and attract new patients in your own backyard.
Continue considering COVID-19
At a time of increased vaccinations and life generally feeling like it’s more normal, patient confidence in returning to the dentist is at an all-time COVID high. That said, it’s important to think about ways to continue making patients comfortable. Considering easy-to-implement design elements can help in your efforts to not only to be safe but also to attract (and keep) new patients.
Offer membership plans and insurance subscriptions
Particularly at this time when many people are seeking dental care after a year without it, dental membership plans can increase practices’ chances of attracting returning patients. It sounds counterintuitive, but here’s how it works: When patients are members of your practice, they actually become better patients.
With subscription services, patients pay a monthly or annual fee and receive a set number of diagnostic and preventive services per year along with discounts on other services. By paying a subscription fee, practices realize the actual income while providing patients with the opportunity to obtain treatments that have been recommended.
Mind your chairside manner
It’s no secret that many patients experience extreme anxiety about going to the dentist, and one who has an unpleasant (or even just not calming) experience most likely won’t come back. These articles highlight ways to calm patients ranging from immersive VR to suggestions about anxiolytic sedation.