You spent years training to become a dentist. After graduation, you probably worked for a dental clinic before opening your own practice. You spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on state-of-the-art equipment—not to mention the nice reception area furnishings—and renting an office in a prime location. Then came the challenge of building your base of loyal patients. The skills that it takes to be an amazing dentist are quite different than the skills needed to be a great marketer or salesperson.
What can dental practice owners do to increase their profiles and attract new patients? There’s no single magic bullet, but it all comes down to one thing: branding. Unless they have a specific need, when people look for a new dentist, it’s challenging for them to differentiate between all the Google search results for “local dentist.”
Of course, there are vast differences between practices, but it’s almost impossible to convey this to the public in the few minutes they spend online to search for a new dentist. The good news is that you don’t need an MBA, nor do you need to break the bank, to become a proficient marketer and stand out in a crowded market.
5 simple and inexpensive ways to get noticed
Create a visual identity. Let’s face it; many dentists’ logos and brochures are boring. But that doesn’t mean yours should be! Rather than just having the name of your practice and a stock image on a white background, add elements that cut through the clutter. You can hire a professional graphic designer (I highly recommend this before you take a stab at Photoshop), or you can visit a site such as Fiverr and buy a range of logos quickly and inexpensively.
Get into the community. Just having an office in an area isn’t enough to grow your roster of patients. Make sure that your brand is visible at local events such as farmers markets, fundraisers, churches, and networking groups like BNI.
Leverage your happy patients. More than 70% of online consumer decisions are guided by reviews and ratings. Make sure that you are incentivizing your patients to leave five-star reviews on sites like Yelp and Google.
Use stickers and signs to get your brand into the public consciousness. Even though so much of our time is spent online, there’s no substitute for a physical connection. Along with the toothbrush, giving patients a memorable token like customized stickers from StickerYou that display your logo or image can drive brand recognition and value.
Double down on SEO. Because so many people search online for services, including dentistry, you need to ensure that your website and Google business pages are optimized for success. Make sure that you have the right keywords, hyperlinks, and other relevant information that will help guide people to your door. SEO experts can assist without you having to worry about Google’s latest algorithm change.
There’s no single way to bolster your business. It takes time and patience to get people to choose you over other area practices. But by following some basic branding best practices, you can give yourself a clear advantage in even the most competitive marketplace. And because all the activities I listed here are relatively simple, you don’t have to worry about losing focus on what matters most: keeping your patients healthy.
This article originally appeared in DE Weekend, the newsletter that will elevate your Sunday mornings with practical and innovative practice management and clinical content from experts across the field.. Subscribe here.