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  • Writer's pictureMichael Campagna

The Complete Dental Marketing Plan: Grow Your Practice with These 6 Steps

As you set out to grow your dental practice, creating a marketing plan is an essential component of growth that cannot be neglected. Before investing in any specific marketing tactics, it's important that you take the time to understand the overall goal you are looking to accomplish with your brand and the strategy that will get you there.


In this article, we'll be breaking down the key steps in creating that comprehensive marketing plan for your practice. All the steps are drawn from the Marketable Brand Framework, a planning tool used for growing a brand, no matter the industry.


dentist office visit

Conduct research for your dental marketing plan

Whether your dental practice is brand new or has been around for years, the first step in any good marketing plan is knowing the market you are entering. This market consists of your industry as a whole, the competitors within that industry, and ultimately, the customers you serve.


Since the market for your practice is geographically limited, start by researching the other dentists in your area. Create a list of competitors, prioritizing those with the same specialization as your practice. A competitor analysis is an important step in the process as it gives you insight into the options your prospective patients have apart from your brand.


From there, do some research on the demographics (age, gender, income, etc.) and psychographics (behaviors, desires, etc.) of your target market. Who is it that most wants what you are offering? If you work in pediatric dentistry, you'll be dealing mainly with children, but the people you should be targeting are their parents, as they are the ones deciding to bring them in for a visit.


By having a thorough understanding of the market you are operating in, it will make everything else in your marketing plan more streamlined and efficient.


Establish your online presence

Just because most of your work is conducted in person, doesn't mean you shouldn't prioritize your online presence. Odds are, when your customers are trying to decide on a dentist in their community, they will do one of two things: ask their friends for recommendations (more on this later) or conduct an online search.


In order to optimize your practice for those searches, you need to create a well designed website, engaging social media posts, and a complete Google Business profile. Here are a few tips for each:

  • Website: Your website is the starting point for the rest of your marketing efforts and the place that most of your patients will turn to when first looking to learn more about you. Make sure it is optimized for new and returning patients.

  • Social media: When it comes to social media, a lot of small businesses take an all or nothing approach, creating content for every social media network possible (and burning themselves out) or getting overwhelmed by the thought of that and doing nothing. We suggest your practice prioritize a few (two or three at most) social media platforms - some of the most common for dental practitioners are Facebook, Instagram, and NextDoor.

  • Google Business profile: When someone googles your business, it's important that you have a profile set up for your brand. This will allow potential patients to read reviews and learn more about your services without having to scroll through your website.

As you optimize these various digital platforms, try to see each one through the lens of a prospective patient. If you were in their shoes, what would you need to hear in order to make a decision? It's important to remember that they are primarily interested in the ways your business will benefit them, so be sure to highlight all of the wonderful things you can do to improve their lives. This can be done by showing pictures of happy customers and highlighting reviews about the transformative experience your practice provided them.


Create a compelling offer

Some patients will know exactly what they want and come to you for a specific need right from the get go. These are great patients to have, and your website should undoubtedly cater to their needs and desires to schedule an appointment and learn more about your services. However, there will also be those patients who need a little push to take the first step. That's where a compelling offer comes into play.


Think of a creative way to give something to your customers at a free or discounted rate, and present it to them through a prominent place on your website. Some ideas for this offer include:

  • Free teeth cleaning every *certain number* of visits

  • Free teeth whitening

  • Seasonal discounts (back to school, end of year, etc.)

  • Free consultation

  • Family (group) discounts

Create a header tab on your home page for "special deals" or even create a popup on your website that notifies them of these offers.


These initial discounted rates or free offers are a great way to get people through the door and also a perfect way to generate more leads for your practice. After their initial interaction with you, send them regular updates via email or text reminding them to come back in for a visit or even notify them about additional offers.


Invest in online advertising

Once you settle on a great offer, your work isn't done... because a great offer is only as good as the number of people who see it.


One of the best ways to get your offer in front of more people is through online advertising platforms. Whether those are pay-per-click advertisements (like Google or Bing ads), display ads (that you would find on specific websites), or social media ads (like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn ads), there are plenty of options for advertising your services.


Since you've done thorough research (as discussed in the first step), you should be well aware of the demographics and psychographics of the customers you are targeting online. This information will not only help you identify where these customers are most active online, it will also give you specific qualities to target through your advertising campaigns.


One great thing about a local business like your dental practice is the relatively small geographic area that will need to be targeted in your online advertising.


Dr. Miles Beckett, Co-Founder and CEO of Flossy, a technology company reinventing accessibility to dental care, considers this one of the best things to capitalize on when it comes to marketing your dental practice: "Since dental services require in-office visits, dental practices must capitalize on localized marketing. So, for instance, when crafting a Facebook ad strategy for a dental practice, be sure to target people who reside near the physical location(s)."


By investing heavily in local advertising online, you will not only bring in more leads for your practice but also establish yourself further within the community. Which brings us to our next point...


Be active in the community

Aside from investing financially into your marketing efforts, a time investment can be equally as important and effective if done right. Once again, use the geographically limited audience to your advantage by getting as involved with your local community as possible.


Sponsoring local sports teams, attending networking events, and building relationships with your neighbors are all small ways you can start to grow your reach as a small business leader.


Unlike digital advertising, this approach is far more personal but undoubtedly takes more time and effort on your part. You should see this as an ongoing strategy that, if done well, will root you within your local community for years to come.


Prioritize patient retention and satisfaction

Throughout the marketing process, getting patients through the door is a major goal, but it isn't the only goal. Once you've done the hard work of getting them to sign up for an appointment, your primary mission should be delivering the highest quality experience possible. By doing this, you'll keep them coming back for more, and even better, you'll have them recommending your practice to their friends and family.


Once you have a few patients who are loyal to your brand, incentivize referrals: offer discounts and deals for those who recommend you to other patients, and create a loyalty program that provides a steady flow of new customers. This won't cost you a thing and will allow for an even greater level of sustainability and growth.


Optimizing the patient's experience to keep your practice growing simply through word of mouth marketing should be the goal of your long-term marketing plan. By relying on your own customers to spread the word about your business, you can spend less time focusing on other marketing efforts and more time serving your customers well.


Conclusion

Your dental practice has a unique opportunity to not only service more patients, but to make a lasting impact within your local community. By prioritizing both your online presence and your community outreach, you will set your practice up for long term growth and success.


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