For dental practices, advertising and promotion is not an all or nothing proposition. There are a number of fundamental activities that even the most resource-constrained practices can initiate and maintain.
Further, we would advise you to think about these building blocks as the equivalent of laying tracks for a larger marketing program that can be conducted in-house or with an agency at some point. Remember, the more developed your marketing, the less time, effort, and money a third party will have to spend putting these building blocks in place for you.
Before I suggest what a dental practice should do as part of a basic program, here’s one thing you don’t have to do: write a blog. In some respects, this should be a relief. Blogs are hard to do. Many practices start enthusiastically with a blog that ultimately becomes a faded effort. But blogs are most effective for search engine optimization (SEO), which is not a high priority for most basic marketing programs.
Use live chat
Live chat is a secret weapon. We’ve seen live chat double the conversion rate of incoming calls to patient appointments. The company Live Chat Inc. makes it easy to add this function to your website, and it advertises subscriptions that start at less than $20 per month. Do you have the bandwidth for live chat? Maybe. For a toe-in-the-water effort, I suggest having a receptionist who spends most of his or her time anchored to the reception desk and who’s enthusiastic about being the live chatter. That’s all you’ll need to get started with live chat.
For the most part there are some missteps you can take with social media—Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit among others—and a whole lot of things you might do that will deliver outsized attention to your practice. To underscore this, I point to the dancing dentist, who has earned more than 120,000 views with a video that probably took just minutes to create and post.
The key concept to keep in mind with social media is that it’s primarily a visual medium, and progress is more likely with what you show versus what you write. Accordingly, you need only post photos of staff, doctors, family vacations, continuing education, dental conventions, team training, birthdays, and perhaps other personal photos, assuming the subject, usually a staff member, is on board and these photos don't cross any lines. Finally, if you want to develop a genuine presence on social media and become a part of potential patients’ searches, plan to post daily. While that might be a stretch, it’s considered a best practice. At the very least this should be your long-term objective.
If you’re going to invest time and money, your website is where to do it. Remember, you want to support your marketing initiatives now and today, but also put in place the foundation for more intensive marketing that you might do in the future. What constitutes a good site is the stuff of books, but I can offer one piece of defining advice. Build your site with Wordpress and not GoDaddy or Wix. WordPress is favored because it’s cleanly coded and more compatible with Google algorithms, which creates a greater likelihood of a high ranking in search when SEO programs are initiated. Also, if you use Google advertising in the future, GoDaddy or Wix will not enable you to create landing pages, which are part and parcel of digital advertising.
Marketing can be complicated. Some of the professionals who practice marketing make it seem even more complicated. But it doesn't have to be. These core marketing initiatives can be the basis of a larger program, or they can represent a viable end in and of themselves.