Articulate your vision. First things first – you have to get clear on what you want before you can go about attracting it. Articulation of your vision is the first step in bringing it to reality. Answer these questions in writing and share them with a mentor, consultant or marketer:
- When you are ready to transition away from your practice, years or decades from now, what will your practice look like?
- How will you have changed the world?
- How will you have been different than your competitors?
- What will you have enjoyed the most?
- What will you have been great at?
- What is important to you in your personal life that you will have wanted your practice to reflect?
Research competitors. Make a list of all the practices that your potential patients might consider alongside yours. Visit their websites. Compare their messages with what you articulated in your vision. Do you truly stand out from them? What needs to be enhanced or removed to give you an even greater edge over the competition?
Set a goal. Write down and share your goal for new patients. A short-term goal of how many patients you wish to see in the first year, and a long-term goal of how many patients you will be seeing once you reach capacity. This will act as your benchmark for success as you build your marketing plan.
Conduct assessments. Have a marketing agency conduct an online marketing assessment and a direct mail assessment. Although there are over 25 different marketing tactics that you could deploy to reach your goal, you likely need to start with online advertising and direct mail. These two tactics are typically best for startup practices that need to capture the attention of patients looking for a dental provider now. Yet, they can be big investments. Most reputable marketing agencies will provide an analysis of common search terms and number of viable households in your area, which will give you a clearer idea of what results you can expect before you invest.
Create a referral strategy. The minute that the first patient walks in your door, you have an opportunity to get more patients from referral. Train your team to recognize when the patient compliments the practice, then to immediately respond with an invitation to refer more patients into the practice. Consider using care to share cards to propel the referral conversation. Be sure to reward teammates for attracting referrals, and to thank individual patients for sending them. A simple gift card or thank-you note will do.
Put your best foot forward. Invest the time and money to have the practice logo and website professionally designed. A stellar brand attracts stellar patients.
Wait on the open house. Have your first practice open house 6 to 12 months after you open rather than right away. That way you will have built a community of patients who know and love you, and who will feel happy to bring a friend (potential patient!) to your event.
Set realistic expectations. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Aim to achieve your short-term goal in your first year. From there, evolve your marketing with your practice.