Keeping a foot on the communication pedal
The past six months have been a rollercoaster for everyone around the globe. We experienced a major pandemic that affected every aspect of our social, professional and personal lives in some way. And it’s not over – the transition back to normality and the recovery period beyond this will be felt by most for several months, if not years yet. To help it along, it is important not to forget about communicating with your patients and marketing to new people.
Time to re-focus
In dentistry, we have seen the introduction and development of various new protocols designed specifically to optimise the safety of patients and professionals alike. Practices had to adapt their routines to accommodate the latest recommendations and guidelines as announced by the Government and/or governing professional bodies. These constant changes, combined with the need to enhance clinical efficiency and provide urgent care for those patients who were in pain or discomfort while without access to dentistry, have certainly kept practice owners and their teams busy.
However, as the dust begins to settle and everyone becomes accustomed to the new way of doing dentistry, it is important to allocate time to other areas of the business that may have been – understandably – neglected of late. Among these may be your marketing activities.
Create a plan
Your first reaction to the suggestion of marketing may be one of disbelief and dismissal. Indeed, if you are still only able to see reduced numbers of patient each day and not looking to grow the business right now, why would you do any promotion? The reality is that you’ve probably been marketing your business throughout this period without really thinking about it. Many practices made it a priority to communicate with existing patients throughout lockdown and beyond. You will likely have let your patients know when you planned to re-open and provided information on how you would operate, which treatments you could offer and what changes they would see when they visited.
This was all essential at the time to ensure that patients knew what care they had access to. Now, this communication needs to be developed to reflect the current situation and begin preparing for the future.
Firstly, you will likely have a little more time now to concentrate on activities other than the immediate regulations and patient needs. Secondly, the shift away from crisis-mode means you can start to think about the long-term stability of your business. An effective marketing plan will help you protect your practice’s sustainability. It will help you prepare for the months to come and give you the opportunity to re-connect with those patients you may not have seen for some time. This is also the time to begin reaching out to the wide community – even if business growth is not a priority, attracting new potential patients is essential to maintain practice revenue in the long-run.
What to do
The more materials you can create and the more detailed you can plan now, the easier it will be to implement your marketing campaign over the next few months. Take something simple like deciding to run a tooth whitening promotion in March in time for spring. You could draft an email or newsletter to send to all your existing patients to let them know about the offer in due course. Many online newsletter platforms are free and enable you to prepare everything so all you need to do is hit ‘send’ when the time is right. You might also schedule posts on Facebook or design ads for specific accounts so they are ready to run. In addition, you could contact local newspapers to book advertising or arrange to provide a feature for a particular issue, or you could liaise with other local companies to work together and promote each other to your existing patient/customer base.
It’s important to delegate responsibility for marketing activities to a particular member of staff so it can be managed effectively. It can also help enormously to schedule in times to review progress and adjust your campaign through the year for maximum success. Your communication with both existing patients and the outside world will have a significant impact on your on-going revenue and profitability, as well as the earning capacity and satisfaction of associates.
For support on maximising your marketing activities and getting the greatest return on investment, the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show will present an array of experts in the field. You’ll be able to hear their thoughts and pick their brains, gaining bespoke advice to help you steer your practice in the right direction.
Communication with patients has been key to survival throughout 2020. It’s important not to take your foot off the pedal as we move forwards as it will be just as crucial to your success in the future.