Keeping it simple

Websites, video, social media, search engine optimization, pay-per-click campaigns, leaflet drops, print advertising, exhibitions, radio advertising, in-practice advertising and open evenings are just some of the ways you can market your practice. There’s a wide range of marketing tools at your disposal but at FooCo we still see many practices adopt a scatter-gun approach to promotion and growth rather than developing a well-thought-out strategic approach.

Compare, for a moment, your approach to marketing with the thought and planning that goes into a family holiday. Chances are you’ll research the best accommodation your budget will stretch to, arrange the most efficient travel schedule, brief your staff for jobs during your absence and pack in the most efficient way you can. All because you want to give you and the family the best chance of getting the holiday you want. A marketing strategy should follow the same basic principles.

Some ideas to consider are as follows.

Who’s your ideal patient?

Start off by identifying what orthodontic procedures you would like to do more of. Then work out the average age of those who make up the majority of current patients undergoing this type of treatment. For example, if you’d like to do more lingual cases review the patient base over the last 12 months and look for a 5 to 10 year age span that comprises the majority of these patients. Then look for other characteristics that contribute to the patient profile. You may find, for example, working females aged 28-38 make up the largest proportion of those choosing lingual treatment. This information allows you to adapt and tailor a marketing strategy aimed at appealing to the needs and desires of this particular group.

Your identity needs to appeal to these patients

A clear idea of your own identity and brand values is vital if you’re going to appeal to your target audience. So, to continue with our example, you want to do more lingual cases and need to appeal to women aged 28-38. Does your brand work hard enough to help you achieve this goal? Is your logo, website & stationary themed and styled correctly? Do you convey your expertise in this area effectively? Try sampling some patients for their opinion and you’ll get some valuable feedback which can quickly answer these questions for you.

Be direct & targeted

Never miss an opportunity to inform patients of key services. The more information you relay the more potential referrals you’ll see. Patients who know about your services and the benefits they offer to oral health, overall well-being and of course the aesthetic improvements are in a far stronger position to not only take up their own treatment but to refer friends and family.

We still see orthodontists falling into the trap of emphasising the wrong message at the wrong time in the wrong place. Self-promotion works when done correctly, however, extensive information regarding education, professional qualifications and awards is often more important from an orthodontists standpoint than a patient’s. Most patients assume their orthodontist is sufficiently educated and trained. Clinical methodology, technical ability and peer recognition are not necessarily key elements of interest and therefore are better used reinforcing a marketing campaign rather than being the primary driver.

Motivating patients to call or visit your practice requires making a connection with what they deem as important to their needs and desires. Buying decisions are based on many factors personal to patients’ senses, emotions and concerns; “my teeth make me look older than I am” “straight teeth will make me more attractive and outgoing”. So rather than focus on what you consider important, make sure your marketing efforts target the real or perceived needs of your patients.

Meeting the need

Whenever there’s a cosmetic element to the treatments you offer, which is most cases, marketing should focus on the significant psychological and mental benefits they provide. Improving the patient’s sense of self-esteem and self worth is critically important in the patient’s buying decision. When your marketing communicates these benefits to patients, they are better able to understand, and justify, the true value of the investment.

Orthodontists shouldn’t be afraid to detail how their services improve patients’ dental and general physical health. The general health benefits of orthodontic treatment isn’t something that’s often used to market orthodontic services , despite evidence to show consumer emphasis on cosmetic appearance is shifting in favour of a growing interest in overall health. It’s always worth appraising your marketing so it keeps up with shifting patient trends.

Commit & stay the course

The sequence that creates the best opportunity for success begins by creating positive awareness, establishing a position for yourself in your market, and continual evaluation and fine-tuning. This takes time and patience as well as a marketing budget. To expect immediate return on your marketing investment is unrealistic. Quick fixes usually generate patients of lesser quality than desired. Orthodontists who are truly successful in cultivating high-level procedures do so by building a momentum and maintaining it. Commit yourself to professional marketing that creates long-term, positive results.

For a more detailed conversation about a strategic approach to marketing contact FooCo at [email protected] and arrange a practice visit. These are obligation-free meetings and include a full appraisal of your current marketing. We’ll also include an evaluation of the effectiveness of your website and can even produce a new homepage design for you on request and all obligation-free.

Author Biography:

Malcolm Counihan is the founder and MD of FooCo Video & Marketing. Launched in 2007 FooCo now helps over 500 healthcare clients with their marketing and communications. Orthodontic clients benefit from an array of products and services including; website design; video production for websites and waiting-rooms, brace care videos and other design and printing services.