When it comes to marketing your orthodontic practice, standing still is no longer one of the options, says Neil Hillyard.
The pace of change is accelerating and patients have an overwhelming choice as to where they can get their teeth straightened.
In this article, I will look at 10 effective ways to re-energise your marketing to help you attract more patients to your practice.
Start by putting yourself in the shoes of your prospective patient
Look at your existing marketing and promotion through their eyes, how well do you think your messaging resonates with them? Are you using language they can relate to? Do you tell a compelling story that will make them want to learn more about what you offer? It’s easy to forget what being in the shoes of the patient is like. However once you start to consider the whole experience through their eyes, you will more easily see where changes need to occur.
Search like a patient
Start with an easy search such as ‘braces or Invisalign near me’ or ‘do braces hurt’. What are the results? These top results are your competitors. To get your website ranked higher, you will need to make sure you answer questions patients are most likely to ask when exploring orthodontic treatment. You can help do this through blog posts or a FAQ on your website.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Re-energising your marketing takes time. It’s easy to lose sight of your objectives. Start by working out where you are now and where you want to be in 12 months’ time. Be completely honest with yourself about where you are now and don’t be afraid to imagine a very bright future. What would this look like, how many new patients would you have? Thinking small won’t help you so articulate the vision for your future practice as clearly as possible.
Share your vision
You won’t be able to achieve your vision alone. You’ll need the help of others on your team. You will need them to buy into this vision and to support you every step of the way. This is likely to be the biggest challenge you will face as not everyone would likely welcome the changes you are going to need to make.
Make a plan
Once you have your starting point and vision for the future, sit down with your most engaged team members and start making a plan. What needs doing, who is going to do it, what are you going to need help with? Get everything down on post-it notes and then try and assemble them in an order that is achievable. Work on some of the quick wins first as this helps to energise the whole team towards your vision.
What is your story?
Marketing is all about storytelling. It’s telling a story about the experience of treatment at your practice. Does your website and social media tell the right story about you and your practice? Does the patient experience you provide enable your existing patients to tell a great story about their treatment with you?
Develop a keen eye for detail
As an orthodontist, you already have this skill but do you apply it to your marketing? Look at your website, your social media channels and the patient experience. Does every element represent you in the right way? If you were discovering your practice for the first time, would you be excited to make an enquiry and if you did, what would the experience be like? Do the processes you have in place benefit just the needs of your practice or those of the patient too?
Understand patient motivations for treatment
People are complex. Their insecurities about their smile run quite deep and impact their lives in many ways. Once you begin to explore this with them, you are more likely to build their trust and have more meaningful conversations about starting treatment. This will improve your conversion rate making your marketing ROI more effective. It will also help to attract patients to you.
Polish your sales funnel
The aim of your marketing funnel is to convert as many enquiries into patients as possible. Examine your existing process, look at your data and work out where improvements need to be made. Ask yourself what you need to do to get just one more patient through to the next stage or how you can increase your conversion rate by just 1%.
Turn the funnel upside down
Most marketing focuses on bringing in new patients. What about those you already have? Think about how can you get one patient to tell someone else about their great experience of having treatment with you? Then how they can share their experience with many more. Can you do this through reviews, a video testimonial or by creating an experience that they will want to talk about on social media? What kind of experience would someone have to provide to you to get you to talk enthusiastically about it?
If you can tell the right story, patients will simply repeat this and do marketing for you.
If you do what everyone else is doing, your marketing will be a whisper in a crowded room. To make yourself stand out, you will need to be different (just as we have 11 points in a top ten list). Your story will need to not only resonate with patients but to excite and interest them too. This isn’t about being something you are not, but celebrating who you are and everything you have to offer.
Marketing runs through everything you do; every process, and every interaction with patients. Marketing is not standalone, it is something every member of your team does every time they engage with a patient. Marketing is what patients say about you when you are not in the room. Help them to tell a good story.