Advertising is as old as a merchant in ancient Babylonia crying out the value of his wine, bread, or silks. Even then, the intent was to get passersby to purchase on the spot—or at the very least, soon.
Today, advertising works best when it’s applied to consumer products and services. The purpose is still to encourage purchases in the very near term. Discounts, sale prices, two-for-one offers, and limited-time savings drive this sort of advertising.
Image advertising supplements the usual “Get it now!” come-on advertising. Its intent is to promote brand familiarity and to influence consumers to buy the product or service eventually. Done correctly over time, image advertising can promote brand loyalty.
Think about advertising by Lexus automobiles, Royal Caribbean cruises, or Seiko watches. Those advertisements may and do include offers, but the marketers don’t expect a huge surge in sales. Rather, the ads are focused on promoting brand familiarity and recall with the expectation that more and more consumers will eventually choose their brand.
What kind of advertising is your practice doing?
The Problem with Price
If you’re like most dentists, the bulk of your marketing is designed to attract new patients this month. Every month. Every month for years or even decades. To do that, you use discounted whitening and exams, reduced cost restorations, or something else to attract price shoppers. Basically, you’re chasing patients.
The problem is that your competition is doing exactly the same thing. And there’s more and more competition all the time. All of you are engaged in a race to the bottom because you’re advertising on price, discounts, and specials. If you have corporate dentistry in your market, they’ll beat you every time on price.
Yes, your practice needs a steady stream of new dental patients. But are price shoppers and one-and-dones really the patients you want to attract? Will those patients allow you to grow your practice, increase your profits, and give you the freedom to handle more of the cases you love?
A Gradual Approach
Dentists who want to grow their practices with quality new patients can build on the lessons of the major luxury brands. Many new patients are willing to pay extra for dentists who promote the value of the services and experience they offer, not the price.
You won’t get those quality patients today, any more than Lexus can expect a rash of luxury car buyers because of a single television commercial. But with the right marketing approach, you can and will attract those patients over time. And over time, you’ll attract more and more of them.
To accomplish that, you need to establish a strong online presence, because that’s where most dental patients begin their search for the right dentist to solve their problems. Today, dentists are assumed to be clinically competent. The quality patients you’re looking for want a dentist they can like and trust.
Your online presence—your website, your videos, and your social media and blog posts—have to give them reasons to choose you as a trusted expert. That takes a good deal of exposure to your clinical expertise and to who you are as a person, so you must provide your prospects with a stream of quality content over time.
Google reports that consumers consult more than 10 sources of online information before making a purchase. Choosing a dentist is rarely an impulse buy. You want to be most, if not all, of those sources.
For dentists who want to experience double-their-practice growth or better, a patient attraction system (PAS) is the ideal approach to marketing. A PAS carefully integrates all aspects of online and offline marketing to target the new dental patients that a given dentist wants.
Website design and content, search engine optimization, pay-per-click and online banner ads, social media content, blog posts, dentist and patient testimonial videos, and more all work together to accomplish a single goal: to put more and better patients in chairs.
There’s no question that implementing a patient attraction system requires a particular mindset for dentists:
- Dentists have to be willing to do what it takes to get more and better patients, even if it means stepping out of their advertising comfort zone.
- Dentists must identify their ideal patient, understand that patient’s actual needs and desires, and position themselves as the logical choice (aka the expert) to solve that patient’s problem.
- Dentists have to relinquish a “quick hit” mentality and adopt a long-term view of attracting the patients they need to grow their practices.
For dentists who are tired of the neverending advertising treadmill, of getting beaten up on price, and of not getting the patients they want and need to grow their practices, a PAS offers a very profitable new approach to dental marketing. You’ll find a wealth of knowledge on creating your own patient attraction system at smartboxwebmarketing.com.
Colin Receveur is a nationally recognized dental marketing expert and speaker who has appeared as a featured speaker at Infusionsoft’s PartnerCon in Chandler, Ariz; at Capacity Academy in Nashville, Tenn; and at the Dentaltown Townie meeting in Las Vegas. He is also the author of a number of bestselling books on Internet marketing. His company, SmartBox Web Marketing, works with more than 500 dentists on three continents to help them get more patients, more profits, and more freedom. And, his Patient Attraction System has revolutionized how dentists attract the patients they want to treat.