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Dental marketing: What’s my competition doing that I’m not?

Jan. 8, 2021
When the dentist down the street has tons of new patients, don't get discouraged. Shaz Memon says you can reach savvy consumers through Instagram. If it's not part of your marketing, it's time to make the move. Then watch your practice grow.

It’s easy to lose confidence when the dental practice nearest yours has perfected its dental marketing and is reaping the benefits with a burgeoning and loyal patient base. With an online presence to rival the best, that practice is sharing an abundance of successful patient stories, and their patients are singing their praises online.

But fear not. Here are guidelines you can use for digital marketing that will rival that practice and get more patients in your chair.

Choose the right platform

Instagram is currently the top social platform for engagement, boasting one billion users per month. While Facebook might be the first place a potential patient may find your business, Instagram provides better ongoing engagement. It is perfectly designed to showcase smile makeovers, introduce your team, and offer entertaining and educational posts that catch the eye of potential new patients. Key statistics to consider are that 34% of Instagram users are millennials, 22% of all Instagram users log in at least once a day, 38% of users check Instagram multiple times a day, and 25% of smartphone owners use Instagram.

If you’re focusing all of your dental marketing efforts on Facebook alone, you’re not only missing out on a golden opportunity to expand your patient base to a younger audience that has money to spend, you’re also losing out to practices that have already established a large following on Instagram. Instagram is the home for visual storytelling—from designers to celebrities, lifestyle and health gurus to big name brands, and beyond. It offers an easy-to-scroll newsfeed for those on the go, and it’s very smartphone-friendly. Plus, the current thinking is that if you want to take the engagement experience to the next level, Instagram Stories is the place to be.

There are 400 million people using Instagram Stories every day, and a third of the most viewed posts are from brands and businesses. Check out various dental practice Instagram accounts for some creative inspiration. Those that mix their content well and keep their audience engaged are reaping the benefits.

Include video content

Great visuals are important for dental practices, but video content adds a whole different and better dimension. Not only does it engage longer, but it can add to the number of interactions and shares across all platforms. According to statistics, 43% of marketers believe preproduced video is the most successful type of content for marketing purposes, bringing day-to-day practice activity to life. With fear and phobia seen as the enemies of dentistry, video can help break down the barriers by enabling viewers to “meet” the team. For the patients who are apprehensive about dental care, it might just convert an online follower into a solid appointment.

Storytelling is easier and faces are friendlier in a video. Consider using it to breathe life into your brand and team, with clips showing behind the scenes at your workplace. Videos can also simplify key messages about treatments and procedures. Remember, your storytelling needs to be visually appealing as well as informative to add value to any online patient experience.

Apply the FOMO principle

According to a study of the phenomenon FOMO (fear of missing out), it’s “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent.” Let’s face it; nobody likes to feel left out. There are some lifestyle social media accounts that do a fantastic job of making us want all of the things we don’t have or didn’t even know we needed. 

Many dental clinics' Instagram accounts do this with aplomb, applying the FOMO principle by sharing fabulous smile makeovers and captioning the images by mentioning the bonuses of having teeth straightened, whitened, and enhanced. They often use clever hashtags such as #lifestylegoals #teethgoals #beauty #perfectsmiles #youareneverfullydressedwithoutasmile. 

While a world with a less-than-perfect smile is not necessarily a life less lived (nor should anyone suggest this to be the case), you can promote the overall benefits (function, health, and esthetics) of a straight white smile to your audience without alienating anyone.  Share stories of happy patients who transformed their appearances and confidence with cosmetic dental treatments. Invite your patients to post their results, too. These might influence those followers who are wavering on committing to treatment and encourage them to embark on their own journey to a new smile with you.

Provide answers to questions not yet asked

According to a recent Oral Health Foundation survey, the most common inquiries to its helpline are about implants, veneers, crowns, and dentures. In fact, the charity claims inquiries about implants and veneers have jumped by a whopping 33% in the last 10 years. As Oral Health Foundation CEO Dr. Nigel Carter suggests. “Rather than seeing ourselves as patients, we are increasingly more likely to identify as consumers. As these treatments can be relatively expensive, we are more likely to research them. As consumers, we want to feel reassured that the prices we are quoted are fair and that the treatments we are being advised to take are in our best interest.”

With this in mind, it is imperative that dental practices offer insightful answers to their patients’ questions, even before they’ve picked up the phone or made an appointment. Offer them an opportunity to peruse FAQs on a page on your practice website and create social media posts that inform and speak with openness and clarity. Avoid dental jargon and ensure your posts are easy to digest.

What questions are commonly asked of your team? Chances are the answer can be found behind the reception desk or with the colleague assisting you in the surgery. Anecdotally, patients are far more likely to engage with your staff than with you, so do ask them for feedback.

Listen as well as talk to the audience

If you want to meet patient expectations in the long term, you need to stay in constant contact and frequently test your audience’s opinions. What you offer patients today might not be what they want tomorrow. Communication is a two-way process and open dialogue avoids the risk of any misinterpretation. By actively listening to your followers, you can shape your content to meet their expectations. Thank your followers from time to time, especially those who share your posts or add comments. Listen to your audience and give them what they’re looking for.

Be unstoppable

In terms of growth, social media has developed like no other industry. Global use is phenomenal. This year it is estimated there will be around 2.77 billion social media users and, for dental practices, this is an important fact when it comes to dental marketing. Actively getting involved in social media enables practice owners to discover new ideas and trends, engage with existing as well as new patients in meaningful ways, and get your brand noticed.  

For the successful practice owner, traditional word-of-mouth recommendations are intertwined with a well-thought-out digital marketing plan. This is in the form of a well-designed and easy-to-navigate practice website and a social media presence that’s regularly nurtured and embraces the latest trends. You’ll need support from experts who can apply the latest thinking to keep your website high in Google’s search results. This will ensure traffic reaches your business and patients reach your chair. 

Shaz Memon is the creative director of Digimax and Digimax Dental and has worked with leading dental and nondental names. Digimax Dental uses nondental industries to infuse creative expertise into dental marketing. Some of Digimax’s clients include House of Fraser, McDonalds, Formula One, James Caan, and Caffè Concerto. Memon specializes in offering bespoke, creative, high-end design solutions that encompass branding, dental website design, dental SEO, e-marketing and more, just for dentists. Learn more at digimax.dental.