Create a Dental Marketing Plan in Five Steps

May 14, 2015    By Becky Sheetz ()

Create a Dental Marketing Plan in Five Steps

“If you don't know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra’s classic quote certainly rings true when it comes to planning a dental marketing campaign. Too many dentists find their practices going “someplace else”—and it’s not where they would like.

See Also: Why You Need to Build Your Dental Practice’s Brand (and How to Get Started)

A marketing plan is not just an option. It’s a requirement for dentists who want to grow their practices, protect their existing patient base and achieve their financial goals. To build a reliable plan that generates results, you’ll need to follow these five steps.

1.  Do a SWOT Analysis. This is a deep dive into your practice’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths are your advantages over other practices, such as your expertise in performing advanced procedures or your ability to cater to an affluent patient base. Weaknesses are characteristics that place you at a disadvantage, such as a less-than-ideal location or a number of negative online reviews. Opportunities are those things that could be leveraged to your advantage. Perhaps you have very loyal dental patients, but have never asked them to post online reviews. Or you have a robust patient contact list, but aren’t using it to market to past, current and future patients. Threats are circumstances in the environment that could cause trouble for your practice, such as demographic changes in your community.

A SWOT analysis will provide essential information for you to build a winning marketing plan.

2.  Identify Ideal Patient Types. Successful dental practices don’t just look at the characteristics of the patients they already have. They also consider characteristics of patients they would like to have. If you’d like more profit-producing patients or to expand into an older or younger patient base, you need to identify those audiences.

What types of patients do you want? You’ll need to answer this before going on to the next steps.

3.  Determine Your Positioning. Once you’ve completed your SWOT and patient profiling, you should be on your way to understanding how to best position and brand your dental practice. SWOT will tell you the ways your practice is unique among other specialists and dentists in your area. It will help determine your key marketing messages, allowing you to highlight your expertise, practice convenience, caliber of treatments, or outstanding patient reviews and longtime patients.

4.  Choose Your Tactics. Now, you can apply the information you’ve gathered in the previous steps to determine the best marketing approach. Young professionals and retirees require different dental marketing tactics. Parents of young children should be approached differently if your practice caters mainly to adult patients.

5.  Remember the Referrals! A reliable and continuing stream of inbound dental patient referrals is vital to many practices. And professional referrals from other dentists and physicians are absolutely critical for dental specialists. Be sure your marketing tactics include methods to grow your practice with referrals. We recommend referral-generating newsletters for dentists.

For even more practical dental marketing tips, download WPI Communications’ free White Paper: 30 Tips for Growing Your Dental Practice with Newsletter Marketing.

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