I occasionally welcome Guest blog posts from people I like, know and trust. I’ve been working with Minesh Gandhi on a joint project for the last 7 years, we’ve seen traffic increase on the client website from 200 visitors per month to over 4000 per month, new patients from the website regularly exceed 50. Together Minesh and I form a formidable team, I have looked after the website optimising it for the maximum amount of traffic and conversions whilst Minesh has taken an overall strategic view of the marketing at the practice, guiding and coordinating efforts across all media.
Here’s what Minesh has to say about marketing in dentistry:
The UK dental industry is worth £5.8bn . So how can you make sure you’re getting your fair share of the business?
While word of mouth is still one of the strongest areas of business growth, increasingly, growing your business, attracting new patients and holding on to them is down to effective marketing.
So what is effective dental marketing?
Well, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Are all of your customers on Twitter? Do they all respond to emails? Of course not! The very best marketing adopts a hybrid approach, to maximise its impact and the number of people it will reach.
It is difficult for a potential client to choose your dental practice if they don’t even know it exists. Generally, someone will need to see your business name or logo as many as 15 times before they are likely to think of you when they need a dentist.
So marketing needs to be embedded into the culture of the practice, so that everybody is thinking: Does this make a good story? Can we share it on the website? Will it make a good Instagram photo? Can we share it in our email marketing?
Not many dental practices will be able to afford their own marketing department, or they may have an admin person who dabbles from time-to-time. For most practices, it is more cost-effective to get an expert involved by working with an outside agency. By all means, email your agency with those ideas you’ve had about a good story or a good photo, because you know your business better than anyone and they know how to convert your ideas into effective marketing.
While it may be tempting to get one firm to design your website, another to run your social media and another to run you off some leaflets, it makes financial sense to use a single agency. That way, you avoid duplicating fees and you avoid time wasted on briefing the same information to a number of agencies.
Your website should be informative, fast, easy to navigate and attractive. Its only real purpose is to get patients through the door. So make that clear on every page with something like ‘Contact us to make an appointment’ and the option to either get in touch through the website or by phone.
Blogging keeps your website up-to-date, and blogging regularly pushes it up the Google rankings. The blog must be about the company brand, but should also provoke discussion by bringing in bigger news or industry-wide issues. Each post should be optimised for keywords, such as ‘dentist’, ‘dental practice’, ‘dental surgery’ and your location, such as ‘London’, ‘North London’ and ‘Euston Road’.
Twitter is a great way to share content and build up a relationship with customers and potential customers. Always share your web and blog updates to Twitter to ensure they reach the widest possible audience.
Facebook is the most popular social media in the UK, with around 32m users, so it pays to be using it regularly. A Facebook feature called Facebook Graph Search means users can search for businesses that have been ‘liked’ by their friends. With 92% of people trusting recommendations from friends, it’s important to maintain an engaging Facebook presence that encourages patients to like your business.
A good marketing agency will build up a profile of your patients and potential patients. Maybe Twitter won’t be right for them. Other possible marketing tools include email marketing, such as Aweber, and ‘free’ advertising – offering a regular column in the local paper or slot on local radio. For an older demographic, leaflets and newspaper advertising may be more effective ways of reaching them.
Using as many of these approaches as possible will generate leads and convert them into patients on your books.
I have been working with The Dental Centre London, a busy four-surgery practice for five years. I have supported The Dental Centre with key projects, including a re-brand and email campaigns to existing and prospective patients, as well as overseeing a communications plan for when they moved premises.
The practice now receives 50+ leads per month as a direct result of the strategy.
Effective marketing needn’t be expensive, it just needs to work. By targeting the right audience in the right way, the financial rewards of good dental marketing are clear.
 www.practiceplan.co.uk/resource-library/the-dental-industry-environment/dentistry-uk-summary-market-report-2014 Site accessed 5/6/17