Dentists Should Know: Proactive Patient Marketing Versus SEO

First, the two main dental marketing strategies used by dentists today...
  1. Waiting for patients to show up
  2. Going out and getting them
Getting out front and making yourself known seems to have the upper hand in many ways on waiting for phone calls.

While both search engine optimization and direct marketing have value and new patient potential, there are so many more consumers that don’t yet value your expertise or dental services. As you navigate the Internet using search engines, consumers gain very little in the brand, credibility and value-building realm. Whether it is fear of pain or negative perceptions of dentistry, SEO is not likely to change minds or encourage these patients to jump into the mix any earlier.

Most dentists want enlightened consumers to walk in the door, not those who have no understanding of the value they offer. Tinkering with a search engine strategy might get you more "hits or visits", but it does little to "create" consumers who will accept higher level restorative and esthetic smile makeover recommendations.

Determining the best way to spend your money, time, and/or overall marketing efforts is vital to your current and future success. In this article I make the case for what should be your first goal: proactive, brand, credibility and value enlightening marketing.

Search engine marketing is the modern Yellow Pages - while more hyperactive and interactive than their print cousin - they are still sitting on a computer or PDA (the Yellow Pages book sits under the phone) waiting for a participant to click some keys. This is a fairly passive way to market.

Too many dentists are still waiting for people to think about dentistry and "come to their senses" about their overall dental needs/wants. Then consumers still need to type in the right "keywords" that bring your dental website up in a search. Additionally, no matter what your ranking on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines your listing is always presented right next to your competition.

Proactive marketing is like grabbing a person by the "communication lapel", and engaging him or her about the value of your dentistry right now! Plus you don’t have to bring your competition along for the ride.

To get the attention of patients and consumers, and hold it, dentists need to focus on a minimum of THREE types of proactive marketing: high-impact with incentives, consistent and value building.

High-Impact Incentive-Infused MarketingShaking up the consumer's perspective about dentistry is essential to achieving value enlightenment. Receiving a full-color postcard presenting the comfort, quality and style of your image breaks through the fog of traditional dental beliefs still ingrained in most consumers.

Most dental marketing is presented in a mind-set that keeps the consumer from upgrading their needs/wants quotient. If dentists want consumers to show up with specific requests that are in line with their highest-level services (with checkbook at the ready), then changing the consumer perspective is required.

Direct mail, dental marketing postcards are a very effective platform for initiating and reaffirming the excitement and confidence your advanced dentistry offers patients.

The hectic lives of the dental consumer requires a reduced level of complexity to get through the clutter they are overwhelmed with everyday. A FREE teeth-whitening promotion will add a “call to action” impact to visual impact of the printed postcard itself. Smile whitening is simple to understand and is very low on the anxiety-inducing meter. Plus the word “Free” is a lot easier to understand than quality or even value.

When you get them in your practice, complexity can be increased and other quality elements discussed. But if they never get to your dental office, your value and quality matter little. Enhancing your dental website rankings with SEO is helpful to building your community presence, but its potential for “activating” uninspired consumers is much less likely.

Waiting for consumers to get around to it is a very unhealthy stance to take. Without communicating regularly with the public, dentists are basically saying we should stay home and let our dental health decline. So get out there and tell your neighbors what they are missing and how advanced dentistry can change their lives and improve their smiles.

Review Express Dental Marketing Postcards, which add Personalized Power to the impact of your direct mail campaign.

Cosmetic/Esthetic Dentistry Personalized Postcards

Family/Cosmetic Dentistry Personalized Postcards

Orthodontic/Braces Personalized Postcards

Consistent Dental Mailing CampaignHigh-impact postcards are powerful ways to interact with the consumer: they are hard to avoid and can be better targeted than more other formats such as print publications, or television and radio.

Yet, postcards are not magical: they are best used in way that complements the consumer reality. This means continually nudging them to move away from avoidance, delay and denial. Without a consistent postcard campaign, consumers will stick with the habits that have kept them away from the dentist up till this point.

Also remember that the right, targeted demographic mailing list is very important as well. A consistent postcard campaign sent to those who are most likely to access the services has a very good likelihood of success.

What dentists should realize is that high-value services are the best ones to focus on in any economy. People who need significant dentistry treatment and/or want a cosmetic smile makeover are looking for the “right dentist” and will pay whatever it takes once they find him or her.

Rather than wait on the consumer to come around to your way of thinking by happenstance, get in there and make more people healthier today.

Express Dental Marketing has various campaign packages to get you started.

Three, Six and Twelve-Month Dental Postcard Campaigns

Value Building Dentistry MailingsChanging the perceptions the consumer has about dentistry is difficult. That said the likelihood of it happening without communicating at a different level is almost zero. Dental website SEO puts your marketing in the cue of “current” searchers. You want to develop to an even larger cohort - not fight over the same group every other dentist is.

Value building requires time and context. Postcard marketing presents an idea that will turn more people into patients who will accept your treatment recommendations as well as create more searchers who will see that you are the “right dentist” for them. Over time and through various levels of contextual development people can be encouraged to move ahead with things they might not have ever considered without “putting the value in their hands”.

Through a consistent campaign of postcard-presented value your patients and consumers in your community will move towards better dental health goals. Giving patients information in the dental office is always limited by time, but more importantly the ability to absorb this information is suspect when they are probably experiencing anxiety in some form.

Therefore, external marketing is also very helpful because it creates an acceptable environment to more firmly and calmly grasp the value of modern dental treatments. Dental website SEO is part of the mix but does not extend to proactive value building.

Find out how Express Dental Marketing can build the value of all your dental services from preventive care, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, and Invisalign to dental implants and smile makeover veneers.
Start with Proactive Marketing, Then Tackle Website SEOSEO will put you in line for the same patients your dentist competitor waiting for, which means diminishing returns as more dentists get in the fray. Direct Mail will get you the patients who need more dentistry and are much more ready to accept your treatment recommendations.

There are many consumers and patients who have given up. They are not candidates for website SEO. If they start hearing about the new comfort elements of modern dentistry or realize how healthy it can be, you boost the potential for much larger gains than your competition.

Most consumers understand smile whitening, but a lot fewer really know what cosmetic dentistry is. No matter how popular or trendy marketers try to say “Hollywood” Smiles or extreme cosmetic makeover are, people just won’t search for those concepts in large enough numbers to keep the new patient dial rising. These same consumers would call you TODAY if they better understood the health, confidence, tooth conserving, restorative, and long-term value modern dentistry provides.

A huge portion of the population will continue to avoid your higher-value dental services if you don’t build credibility in various ways. Sitting down at the keyboard or thumb typing “dentist” in a search on their iPhone or BlackBerry is an exciting way to get information, but it does not happen without some kind of initiating activity.

Having a top ten ranking through search engine optimization will get you those patients who are NOW aware of advanced dentistry value or are desperate for dental care now - but they are only the tip of the iceberg. Proactive marketing has the potential to turn the iceberg upside down.

Search engines shine for many businesses especially those selling well-understood products and services. They just fall short in their ability to enlighten the "missing" and most prolific group of higher-value consumers who have either put their dentistry on hold or have seen no satisfactory reason so far to engage the dental industry.

Dental postcard marketing builds significant potential into your new patient development and current patient production enhancement plans.

Talk to Oliver at Express Dental Marketing about getting your personalized postcard campaign underway.
CALL 800.517.5563................................................

Marketing Commentary by Dick ChwalekNiche Dental Marketing Coach and Communication ConsultantNicheDental.com

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