Stu Coston

Stu Coston

Co-founder

The joy of changing a person’s life by creating a beautiful, healthy smile is one of the intangible rewards of being a dentist that can’t be measured.

Add to that the fact that the profession of dentistry is an extremely complex field to enter. It is both challenging and rewarding.

Do you remember what motivated you to enter dentistry?

Maybe you had visions of job security, financial independence, or professional recognition?

Maybe you have memories of a childhood dental experience or, perhaps, the fact that another family member is a dentist.

Whatever your reason is, your passion is for dentistry.

However, after throwing that graduation cap in the air, you quickly realized that you would need a successful dental practice in order to actually practice dentistry. But it turns out there is a lot more to running a dental practice than working on patients.

Accounting, hiring, firing, scheduling, insurance, financing, managing, leading, and of course marketing. None of this happens without new patients visiting your practice for the first time.

Often, when you’re first starting out a business, you have the time to work on your business, but not necessarily a lot of money to work with. In this post we’re gonna talk about ways that a dental practice can’t get the most out of their marketing on a low budget.

Let’s look at 5 things that you can start doing today to get you started in the right direction:  tracking, digital foundation, social media, SEO, and low-cost promotions.

Free eBook

6 Sample Marketing Plans 

Dental practice owners often take a sporadic approach with marketing – trying lots of things at once, or trying one or two things inconsistently. Without a marketing plan aligned with your business goals, you will not get the results you want.

A marketing plan outlines the steps you need to take to maintain consistency and actually get to where you want to be. In this free guide, we provide 6 sample marketing plans for you to adapt to your practice specifically.

 

First things first

Before we get into each of these, as always, you’ll need to understand exactly what you want your marketing efforts to accomplish. I would like you to take a little bit of time and make sure you have some clear goals and a clear understanding of what time and money you actually have available to allocate towards these activities. There are a lot of marketing activities out there and I want to help you determine which ones to focus on right now.

Tracking

You always want to start on the right foot. In today’s digital economy, it is paramount that you set up automatic tracking wherever possible. Let the computers do what computers do best, so you can focus on doing what humans do best.

Setting up tracking early will help you tremendously when you’re ready to start scaling.  Even though you don’t have all the data now, in six months, if you’ve been doing this well, you will have a lot of data to know what’s actually working and what’s not.

Website

The first thing you need to do is to get a website. If you don’t have a website you are not a viable option for a consumer. 80% of patients begin their search for a dentist on Google. 55% of those users are on their phone, so your website needs to be mobile friendly (in our world we call that “responsive”).

If you’re on a low-budget you’re probably thinking you should make your website yourself. And with all the free DIY options out there, this can feel like a good choice. However, I should let you know that outsourcing your web design is (usually) a much more effective option. There are things that professional web designers know that the DIY options can’t help you with. However, if you are absolutely adamant about doing it yourself, then feel free.

If you’re in a time crunch then I would start with “Google My Business”. Now, I’m personally certified as a Google Ads Partner, and have taken classes on “Google My Business”. It’s not the best option for a dental practice, but it will get the job done in a pinch. Go here and get your account set up. This will register you with Google maps so people can find you when they search your area. You can use their free website builder and at least have something on the internet. Like I said, it’s not great, and I don’t recommend keeping it for the long run because it will not give you the options that a custom design can get you (online appoints, custom branding, market distinguishers, specialized landing pages) but it is something and you have to have something.

If this doesn’t tickle your ivories, then check out WordPress. It’s a much more robust system and an all around better option. It’s a little bit more of a learning curve, but it’s the platform we use for all of our clients. Please just don’t use Wix or Weebly.

Tracking Codes

Once you have a website, I want you to install Google analytics and Facebook pixel tracking codes. These services will track the user data on your website so you can see what type of people are visiting, where they first came to your website from (organic search, Facebook post, Instagram profile, LinkedIn, etc), and the behaviors they are taking on your website. You can learn more about Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel by clicking these links.

Google Analytics: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/

Facebook Pixel: https://www.facebook.com/business/learn/facebook-ads-pixel

Emails

The next thing you need to do is eliminate your public facing emails. An example of a public facing email would be yourname@gmail.com or yourname@yahoo.com. You need to eliminate those public facing email addresses and get your own website domain. This means people will see your business URL (myawesomedentalpractice.com) and your custom email (yourname@myawesomedentalpractice.com).  This will significantly increase your authority in the market, get your potential patients to trust you more, and marginally increase the number of leads and new patients coming to your practice.

Contact Forms

Finally, you need to get contact forms put on your website. It’s fine to keep your phone number and email on your website too (as long as it isn’t a public facing email), but having a contact form makes website visitors believe you are a true professional.

Contact forms also allow you to put tracking codes on the submit button (Google analytics and Facebook Pixel). This way, when a visitor submits one of those forms then you’ll be tracking the user data. This will help you know how many people are clicking the button and you’ll know where they’re coming from before they click.  Maybe they started clicked a Facebook post and then landed on your homepage, then clicked to your about page, and then they came your contact page before submitting the form. Knowing this data will help you know which pages to use as links in your paid advertising later on. Without having a contact form you’ll never know exactly how many conversions you had once they got to that point on your website. Knowing this will ensure that you get the highest return on investment (ROI) with your marketing activities in the long run.

Digital Foundation

Directory listings

As you know there are lots of directory listings out there; Zocdoc, Rate MDS, HealthGrades, Google My Business, and Yelp to name a few. You need to create accounts on each of those directly listings, provide accurate contact information, and be sure to put a picture of yourself in your profile.  Make sure the information is consistent across platforms.

If you don’t want to use the paid ones, at least get Google and Yelp set up.

Blog

On that new website you just built, you need to start a blog. I’m not going to go into all the reasons here, but this is a good article that gives 10 reasons why you need to be blogging. Blogging once a week is a good practice. It will increase your chances of getting found on Google, and it will give potential patients a deeper look into your dental practice. If you don’t have time to write your own blog, there are a ton of outsourcing options that you can use to hire someone to write a blog post for you (Upwork and Freelancer are my favorites). If you build your website with WordPress, which is what we use to build all of our client’s websites, you can easily create a blog that that matters and that people can find.

Merch

It’s a good idea to get branded T-shirts, banners, business cards, flyers, and other printed materials with your website URL and social media accounts on there. This will promote your digital presence through your physical mediums.

Social Media

Profiles

The next major step you need to take is to create all of your social media accounts. It will be tempting to just create an account on all the social media platforms you can think of, but that’s not necessarily the best idea. I want you to really think about where your patients spend their time online and focus your time on 1 or 2 of those platforms. Don’t stretch yourself too thin in the beginning because eventually you won’t have as much time on your hands and it will be very hard to maintain several social profiles.

Posting

Be sure to dig through your local area and target audience to figure out which hashtags they commonly use. You should try really hard to be posting at least twice a day to each social media account using these hashtags. Building up your content online will make you look like more of an authority in your industry and have the biggest opportunity to put you in front of the most number of her people.

Groups

You need to join and participate in local and industry groups. My wife is a part of a lot of “mom” groups on Facebook, and they are constantly talking about their kids medical needs. So if you’re a pediatric dentist trying to get into those types of groups will be a great place for you to connect with them on a very personal level.

As a matter fact when we lived in Utah, my wife was in a group just like this and she posted a question about our daughter’s lip tie. There “just so happened” to be a dentist in that group who commented on the picture and explained the whole situation to us. That dentist added a ton of value to my family and go figure, we ended up switching pediatric dentists the next month. That dentist probably never never knew that it was that Facebook interaction that made us go there but it did. We later found out that this particular dentist was in dozens of these types of groups, constantly interacting with moms about their kids lip ties. That practice was the local authority on lip ties because of their strategic use of social media groups.

Total side note — I also want to note that it was my wife who asked the question on Facebook, my wife who received the response for the dentist, and my wife who decided that we need to switch pediatric dentists. 90% of all household dental decisions are made by females. Consider that as you start your marketing activities. Everything you publish should appeal to women in some way.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is a fancy way of talking about “showing up at the top of Google search results”. Your potential patients are on Google right now searching for dentists in their area. There is way too much information on SEO to talk all about it on this post, but I’ll just say a couple things to get you started.

Address

First of all, they are searching for dentists “in their area”. If you don’t have an accurate address on your website, Google won’t know where you are located. Therefore, they won’t know if you are “in their area” or not. This will hurt your rankings. Make sure you have an address. It would be smart to also have a map on your website, and to link your address to your location on Google Maps.

Google My Business

If you set up your Google My Business account earlier, then you are good to go with this one. If not, go do it. Google Search automatically ranks businesses that are registered on Google My Business higher.

Keywords and Keyphrases

Like I said earlier, your potential patients are on Google right now searching for dentists in their area. You need to know what words and phrases your potential patients are searching for, and put those phrases on your landing pages in order to rank higher. Google Trends is an awesome free tool that you can use to figure out what these words and phrases are.

You don’t want your content to be bombarded with the same phrases over and over because Google’s artificial intelligence is able to read your content as if it was a human. If you’re using the same words over and over just trying to fill it up with keywords, Google will know that and it will decrease your ranking. It wants your content to be readable and understandable for regular people.

However, you do want to use those keywords where it makes sense within your content. Your headings, your image tags, and in the page metadata (if you don’t know what these are, leave a comment below or email me).

Low-Cost Promotion

Finally, you want to start driving traffic and creating brand awareness so that you can generate those new leads and get those new patients.

Newsletter

Newsletters are easy and free, so I want you to start one. In your newsletter I want you to provide updates about your services and products that you use and recommend. I want you to include tips and best practices for home dental care. And, I want you to include office updates (anything from I got a new chair to we hired a new hygienist).

Business Relationships

Next, you need to start looking for opportunities to cross promote with local partners and complementary businesses. If you’re a general practice dentist you might want to try to partner with a pediatric dentist or orthodontist and then use your collaborative networks to reach more people for each other.

Open House

You should host an open house for locals to be able to walk into your practice and take a look around. Let them get to know you, your hygienists, and the rest of your staff. Give them some free free stuff in exchange for their email address (once you get their email, you can you can send the newsletter). Hand out merchandise with your name on it. Give them candy (because then they’ll need to come to the dentist to fix their teeth). Maybe host a whole burger burn. If you feed them, they will come, and I bet you’ll get some new clients from it. An open house is a great way for them to get to know you and for you to get to know them.

Community Events

Finally, I want you to attend 3 local community events per month at least. If you can get your business in front of people within the community 3 times a month at these events you would be on the right foot.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to post them in the comment box, or contact us. If you want to schedule a free strategy call you can do that here.

Read about  Want to increase website traffic? Here are 7 tips

Free eBook

6 Sample Marketing Plans 

Dental practice owners often take a sporadic approach with marketing – trying lots of things at once, or trying one or two things inconsistently. Without a marketing plan aligned with your business goals, you will not get the results you want.

A marketing plan outlines the steps you need to take to maintain consistency and actually get to where you want to be. In this free guide, we provide 6 sample marketing plans for you to adapt to your practice specifically.

 

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