How to Acquire and Keep Dental Patients

(There’s More To It Than You Might Be Aware Of)

No one wants to feel like they’ve been “conquered.” If your approach to marketing your dental practice feels a bit…well…overly aggressive it’s time for a change.

Patient acquisition, targeted marketing, funnel here…funnel there…marketing funnels everywhere! Well intentioned and useful strategies perhaps but they can create a mindset that’s not necessarily beneficial. Less beneficial if you make one common mistake during implementation.

It’s Not About You!

Saying the “rules” of marketing have changed might be a too strong a statement. But patient acquisition looks different today than it did in the past.

For example, your dental patients, like most consumers, are accustomed to being oversold. Hype driven, “salesy” language, and industry-speak are common.

These days it’s more about getting to the heart of your patient’s “story.”

Know theirs before telling yours.

Your brand matters. Yet you’ll attract more patients to it when you understand how and where it influences them…and for how long.

Patients for Life?

Phil Bressler used it with pizza. The “it” is lifetime “customer” (patient) value.

Bressler achieved top franchisee status with Domino’s Pizza throughout Baltimore. He once calculated that a loyal pizza consumer was worth $4,000 to his business. His calculations revealed that the average pizza customer would purchase 50 $8 pizzas on average each year – totaling $4,000 over a 10 year span. [1]

Imagine how this principle could transform your patient interactions. What if you applied a lifetime patient value perspective to:

  • Front desk interactions?
  • Scheduling, clinical, and treatment plan conversations?

And…

  • Every marketing initiative?

It means treating each patient interaction according to its lifetime value and not merely as an isolated procedure or treatment plan conversation.

Practically speaking, it’s:

  • Marketing focused on consistent “touches” via content that connects with your patient’s questions and problems (their story).
  • Follow-up and scheduling that prioritizes patient dental care for their lifetime of health.

Measure the right stuff

Remember, lifetime value sees each patient as an ongoing relationship to develop and nurture. Focusing on the long term (lifetime) value of your patient relationships gives you a reason to connect with them.

  • Generate more inquiries about your services without relying on deal-of-the-month mailers
  • Increase your click-through and opt-in rates with emails that inform rather than promote
  • Create informed patients via blog posts that solve problems and answer questions

It’s about measuring more than your good-intentions. You’ll improve your marketing ROI (Return on Investment) when you track your expert intuitions about your patient’s relationship with your services.

Discover Your Sweet-Spot

It’s more than assuming that everyone needs dentistry. The issue is what kind of dentistry, when, and why.

Every need is contextual. It’s felt by a particular person at a particular time in pursuit of a particular end-goal. It has a functional side e.g. ‘I need to make this picture looks beautiful’ and an emotional side e.g. ‘I need attention from my friend’. And needs find a way of getting themselves met… with your product or without it.

Recognized need is associated with the information you create and share. This places content at the core of your patient acquisition strategy.

Three Essentials to Lifetime Patient Acquisition Using Well-Timed and Well-Intentioned Content

1-Solve Problems to Secure Patients to Your Services

When is a service valuable to a patient?

When it solves a problem.

It could be pain, perception about their ongoing quality of health, or a specific issue with their appearance. Not every patient is having a dental problem at the moment.

But that doesn’t mean one won’t develop.

Sometimes a problem-solution approach creates awareness. Keeping patients aware gives you an opportunity to engage with them and their story.

Certain dental services have a seasonal appeal. For example, you know that Spring and Summer months provide opportunities for specific dental solutions.

  • Weddings, class reunions, and family reunions are primed for cosmetic dentistry
  • Vacations and weekend stay-cations encourage preventive dentistry to avoid an unfortunate dental emergency while away from home.

It’s about acquiring patients and retaining those you have through strategic problem solving.

2-Inform Patients with Quality Content That Answers Their Questions and Provides Solutions

It’s natural to default to a “selling” mindset when creating content. Ultimately that’s the desired result. But there’s a difference between content marketing and traditional, sales-oriented marketing.

Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.

Content marketing is designed to establish a connection with your “audience” or “target-market.” It’s a “permission to sell” approach that builds trust.

Content marketing prevents you from barging in, uninvited. Instead you’re aware of their questions and common problems.

Then…

You create content that provides solutions to problems and simple answers to questions.

  • Use blog content that informs.
  • Create and send email content that links to other sources of valuable and informative resources (instead of “click here for this month’s special offer…”).
  • Build and deepen patient relationships with social media (Facebook page, Instagram, etc).

3-Listen, Learn, and Leverage What You Discover into Patient-Focused Content

Intuitive listening gives you an advantage. It uses  every patient interaction, appointment, treatment block, survey, and post-service review to help you better connect to your patients.

  • Train yourself and your team to listen below the surface during patient interactions (including complaints and/or negative reviews).
  • Seek to understand your patient’s emotional buying motive. People “buy” for emotional reasons.
  • Create content that reflects your discoveries via listening.

Your content will be well-received when your patients sense that you understand what’s keeping-them-awake-at-night, so speak. Take a long term view of their care and begin by listening to what’s on their minds…today!

Lifetime patient value is sustained through a relationship. And all relationships thrive on beneficial communication.

Stay connected to more patient-centered content on our blog. Contact us to share your practice-building questions and request information about our services.


[1]          Source: James L. Heskett, W. Earl Sasser, Jr., Leonard A. Schlesinger, The Service Profit Chain – How Leading Companies Link Profit and Growth to Loyalty, Satisfaction, and Value, p. 65

Last modified: October 23, 2018

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