In last week’s issue May 12 I discussed winning ways to attract new patients through internal marketing. Let’s continue now with internal and external.
By Howie Horrocks,
New Patients. Inc.
Photos, photos everywhere. Before and after photos should line the walls of your reception area and operatories. When people see the difference between a mouthful of amalgams versus “white fillings” while they are waiting, they’ll be more receptive once they’re in the chair. A before and after shot of a good veneer case with the caption, “Porcelain veneers - done in two visits” will impress most anyone. Likewise with teeth whitening, a nice set of comparison photos make it much easier to sell this service. Also have photo albums of your best cases along with testimonials from the patients. They don’t all have to be your patients either. You can describe veneers, whitening, inlays and bonding until you’re blue in the face but it won’t be half as effective as a good before and after photo.
Educate and motivate. A nice addition to your photo gallery is patient education on video, CD or DVD. A continuous loop video or a CD or DVD presentation on the benefits of modern cosmetic dentistry, running nonstop on your reception room, will not only distract a waiting patient but will also show them how good their smiles could look. The same presentations in the operatory will also raise dental IQ. You’ve essentially got a captive audience so whenever you need to leave the room, even for a couple of minutes, simply turn it on. Remember, this is the video age, people will watch anything that’s on a TV screen, especially if there is nothing else to do and particularly if it’s right in front of them.
Don’t be afraid, just call them. You’ve heard this before and will hear it again, from me. Call everyone you numbed that day. This is a simple phone call made the evening after treatment. Ask them how they are doing, has the anesthesia worn off, do they have any questions, how does the bite feel and so on. You really want to know if anything is wrong so you can fix it right away - before they decide to go to another practice and bad mouth you. In fact I would take it a step further and call the new patient BEFORE the first appointment. Try this for a while and you’ll see your blown appointments go way down and patient cooperation go way up. Some dentists think the patient will see these calls as an intrusion. This is simply not true. Patients, just like any human being, appreciate having attention paid to them.
In fact, you could say that the degree you give someone your attention is the degree they give you their admiration and money.
Your practice can hum along quite nicely for a long time on a referral only basis. However some external marketing usually needs to be done in order to make up for natural attrition.
Rather than go over old ground in regards to Yellow Pages or print ads, focus your attention on other ways to reach the people who need, want and can afford the dentistry you want to deliver.
Develop an effective mailer. Unless you’re an experienced copywriter it would be wise to have an ad agency help you with this step. A mailing piece, professionally done, can be used for years. You don’t have to have a high response rate for this to pay off. Even at less than one percent you can still be quite profitable. One good case will pay for the mailing, in some instances many times over.
To limit your risk and initial investment, first try an inexpensive postcard mailing. And don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t pull well right off the bat. You may have to try two or three different cards until you get one that brings you a decent response. If you ask an agency to design a mailing they will usually present you with three ideas. Ask them to produce the one you like the best, but in case it doesn’t pull well get them to agree to let you use the other two ideas as tests. Test all three and settle on the one that yields the best response.
Target your mailings to areas near your practice, which are affluent enough to afford full care dentistry. You can also target people who have recently moved into your area. TRW has a great service called Redi Comps (800-345-7334), which will tell you about all the new homeowners in your area and the value of each property. This way you weed out the areas that are apartment heavy or are other wise undesirable. This assures that your mailings get to your target market. There are other firms specializing in new movers specifically for the health professions. Try Abstract Records Service, Inc., 105 Exchange Pl. Pomona, CA 91768, 800-879-9991 or your local mail list broker found under “Mailing Services” in the yellow pages.
Of course these items aren’t the only things you can do to attract the kind of patient you want. But these are effective, relatively inexpensive and have proven themselves time and again. Use them well!
Howie Horrocks is the Author of More Unlimited New Patients . To order now click here
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