What is a “better” new patient?
I’ve had thousands of conversations with dentist about their practice marketing over the years.
Eventually, each one will come to ask me what really works to get new patients.
How do you get more:
- Dental Implants
- Sedation cases
- CEREC cases
- LANAP cases
- Sleep Apnea cases
- Comprehensive Dentistry
- Cosmetic Cases
- Big Cases
- Patients that can afford treatment
What they are really asking is not how to get more new patients, but how to get specific new patients.
The only thing that qualifies a new patient as “better” is that they line up with the dental practice’s marketing plans.
Attracting New Dental Patients is Like Fishing.
I’ve been fishing many times, deep sea fishing, off a pier or sand bar and right from the beach too. I would not call myself a fisherman though. My idea of fishing is relaxing alongside my friends, a pole in one hand and a beer in the other. I don’t bait my hook. I don’t reel in my catch. But I do go fishing with people who know how to do all those things.
They know how to do them expertly.
They know what we’ll be fishing for, the type of bait that will work best to attract the fish, and most importantly they know hooking the fish is only the beginning, there is more to do before we get dinner.
Attracting new dental patients with specific needs is a lot like fishing.
1. Know Your Patient
Before you can plan where to go and how to attract your fish you have to know what kind of fish you want to catch.
You must determine the type of service or patient need you are wanting to fulfill. You can have multiple goals working in coordination with each other but it is essential you identify your target patient.
Use your marketing strategist and
- market research
- gather demographic data
- and review your own patient demographics
to discover the characteristics, needs, wants, and preferences of your target patient.
What is the typical age range of the patient you are seeking?
What are the dental needs indicated on their health history form and patient surveys?
This information will help you build persuasive marketing messages. Use their own language to create a message that identifies their need and points to your practice as the solution.
2. Discover Where Your Target Patients Are
Identifying the characteristic of your target patient will give a clear path to where you can find them.
Consumer market profiles can reveal where they shop, what they spend their money on, and what media they respond to. You can also uncover a great deal of information from your existing patients of the same target group.
With a little help from your practice software you can discover their zip codes. Patient communication companies like Solution Reach, and Revenue Well are connected to your practice software. These companies can actually pull a custom patient list based off of specific procedures codes.
Try segmenting patients into a dental implant procedure code list for example. You’ll find a ready made target list to evaluate the core demographic make up for patients seeking dental implants.
3. Grab Your Patient’s Attention & Response
Now that you’ve identified your target patient and discovered where to find them it is time to cast your message.
Your marketing message is your hook, it’s what will grab their attention and move them into response.
A marketing message consists of:
- The text used to communicate the benefits of your dental practice
- The new patient offer with a sense of urgency
- The images and design used to bring your benefits to life, visually
- The media used to deliver your benefits (direct mailer, print ad, billboard, broadcast, etc.)
- The practice brand and identity delivered throughout the designs, materials, colors, fonts, and content layout
Each message and the media used to deliver the message, must speak directly to your target patients needs and wants – eliminate the features and dental jargon.
The most important thing you can do before a marketing piece is launched is to step back and evaluate the look, feel, and overall impression.
Is the look and feel in line with the practice brand?
Does it speak to the target patient’s needs?
Is it being cast in the media they prefer and respond to?
Remember, attracting better new patients for your dental practice is just the beginning. Comprehensive care, dental treatment plan acceptance and long-term recare are still part of your continued marketing strategy.
It’s not easy to stop the excitement of marketing ideas to take the time in preparing before your marketing launches but just remember, you’re not likely to catch the big tuna in the middle of a lake with a bucket.