Here are four marketing approaches that could help your dental practice during a recession.
1. Refocus your approach
Mikaeya Kalantari, DDS.
As we are entering into not only an economic recession but also an emotionally sensitive period in history, I highly recommend that you review all of your office protocols, from your digital marketing and marketing materials to your operational policies and procedures. Make sure that you are not putting something out into the community that lacks empathy and understanding of the times at hand. Revisit the wording of your statement and collection protocols, and revisit the tone of your marketing ads and social media. Remember, this is not a joyous time for many people. While we don't want to take a depressive tone, we also don't want to appear not to have a grasp on the gravity of the world's situation.
2. Market what makes you unique
Marketing certainly should not stop at this time, but it should take on a more targeted approach. Many people at this time will simply not have enough money for dentistry, while those who do will make sure they do their research before parting with their money. Make sure you are giving a clear reason to choose your office over all the others out there by focusing on what makes your office unique.
By doing this, you will draw in people who value the very things that you value about your practice. In the end, you may be getting fewer new patients than you were before the pandemic started, but you are getting quality patients who can easily be converted to raving fans of yours. Raving fans are key to withstanding an economic recession as their word-of-mouth praise will market your practice for you without any money coming out of your pocket.
3. Testimonials are more important now than ever
At times like these, people want to hear a story. They want to make a human connection. A great way for offices to indulge this desire for connection (as well as market their office) is to ask for genuine testimonials from your patients. Turn these testimonials into short stories that weave together to form an overall picture of what your practice is all about.
The most effective way to do this is to ask your patients to let you record short video segments of them talking about your practice. By using video, you can craft an emotional appeal to your audience, which is proven to have a much greater impact and engagement overall. Promote this video on your website and social media accounts. You can then put money behind it to promote it and reach a much larger audience and attract new patients.
4. Use your downtime to build your social media and online presence
An online presence is extremely important in these times. As people are sheltered at home, and even after shelter orders lift, expect that people are not out and about as usual. Because of this new "norm," people are searching online for all of their needs. While word of mouth is still critical for dental offices, ranking high online is something that is of utmost importance.
For your dental office to have a strong online presence, you ideally need a mixture of organic SEO, paid advertisements, and social media activity. Assuming that the volume of patients in your office will be less than normal, you can use the downtime to create content that will propel you higher in the search rankings. Things like strategically keyworded blog posts, YouTube tutorial videos, and engaging and informative social media posts can all work together to get your name out there and promote your brand. Also keep in mind that, aside from the paid advertisements, all other online content creation is free! Content creation is paid for with your (or your team members') time, and chances are you have some of this extra currency right now.
While this pandemic and subsequent recession is a first for many dentists, I am hopeful that our profession can rise above and be stronger for it. By setting the right tone, looking out for the best interests of your patients and your team, and giving yourself some grace, we will all make it through!
Mikaeya Kalantari, DDS, is a pediatric dentist at Sunshine Smiles of Orange County and the founder of Thinking Outside The Drill.
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