Dentists need to evolve their marketing practices to achieve and maintain success. That’s the message from Fred Joyal, the co-founder of 1-800-DENTIST, which made $1 billion in revenue over 30 years.
“It’s a changing world. You can say, ‘the world shouldn’t change,’ but it will anyway, and if you decide to not change your practice, it will change for you by shrinking,” says Joyal, who’s authored two dental marketing books, “Becoming Remarkable” and “Everything is Marketing.”
He says there’s a natural attrition to a dental practice, estimating that up to 10% of patients leave a practice every year. Reasons can include moving out of the area, changes to insurance, or financial reasons.
“You need a steady flow of new patients,” he says. “Now, the No. 1 source of new patients should always be word of mouth, but if you’re trying to grow your practice or even maintain it, then you’re going to need to market your practice.”
Joyal, a speaker who offers business coaching and training, says patients will recommend you if they have a good experience with your practice. He advises keeping in mind, “Nothing is neutral.” That means anything can impact a patient’s experience, including what they see and smell, what they hear, and even how they pay their bill.
Read on as Joyal shares his tips to help dental professionals effectively market and grow their business.
1. Have a modern website
Dental practices need to adapt to how people are using technology. Practices large and small should have a modern website that has patient testimonials, the ability to schedule appointments, and a live chat feature that functions almost as a virtual receptionist.
They need a presence on Google search, too. “Google is how people find everything,” Joyal says. “If you’re not coming up effectively in a Google search, you’ve essentially become invisible.”
Set up a free Google business profile — complete with information about the practice, services offered, pictures, business hours, and contact information — to help customers find the business. It also helps the practice tell its story and manage its online presence.
2. Get reviews
The next step is getting patients to review the dental service on Yelp and Google. Ideally, you’ll get at least one new review a week.
Joyal says testimonials are a very persuasive tool. All it takes is asking a patient to participate and then filming their testimonial on a cell phone in the office. It’s best to film them right away since patients often forget to submit them at a later date or time. Patients don’t need to be compensated or rewarded for giving a testimonial.
3. Be social
Modern dental practices need to have a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Post content often, including photos and videos.
If you have money for advertising, buy Google ads and generate traffic to your website. Set a budget for keywords such as, “dentist near me,” “teeth whitening,” or whatever your expertise is.
Joyal advises hiring someone — a team member or an agency — to help you with social media, managing testimonials, and buying ads. He says the biggest mistake is underspending on Google and Facebook ads, so he recommends doing a minimum 90-day test to see what kind of reach advertising will have for you. Next, track your performance online to see whether those ad dollars resulted in more business.
If you’re not sure where to get started, Joyal suggests working with a practice coach who can help you get your website together, figure out what works for your business, and track your results.