Attracting new dental patients is exactly what’s needed right now. In fact, with almost three quarters of the year behind us, and the COVID-19 crisis forcing us to live in a new reality, it’s likely that your practice’s revenue and new patient numbers are fluctuating.
During this crisis, just like any other, it is vital that as a business owner you focus your efforts on increasing your practice’s production. In addition to that, you should try to use the current challenges presented as opportunities to accomplish your 2020 business goals.
Even if your practice is well established, the current economic situation coupled with other crises has most likely impacted your practice’s bottom line. According to the ADA, there are more than 200,000 dentists practicing in the U.S. Everyone is in need of dental care, but that is no guarantee that new dental patients will choose you over the competition.
This time calls for building your practice brand, and as we know, it takes decades to build a brand, not days. The time of crisis is not the time to slow down your marketing efforts, it’s the time to double down.
Your objective should not be to steal the emergency patients from the practice down the street. But instead, to not allow your brand communication to go dark, only to expect that patients come running through the door during re-opening.
Therefore, re-evaluating your messaging based on the new type of patient persona and their current outlook on life is critical to your practice’s success. Below are four strategies to help you acquire new dental patients and grow your patient base during a crisis.
How to grow your patient base during a crisis
1) Capitalize on existing patients
Everything that has transpired in the first half of 2020, such as the pandemic, along with other economic and political outcomes, have severely impacted consumer and shopper behavior on a global scale.
The question you should be asking is, how can I get in front of the new patient persona with the right messaging? According to the 70% rule of existing patients, your practice’s income should come from 70% of existing patients.
During a time of crisis, existing patients are your lowest hanging fruit, and the marketing efforts behind reactivating them are less complex than trying to bring in new dental patients.
Hence, don’t take your existing patients for granted. Ensure that your office staff is calling them, reappointing them, and paying close attention to unscheduled treatments. Focus on the needed procedures as opposed to cosmetic cases, since those patients are far more likely to return sooner.
Additionally, make sure you are communicating the right messaging through an email blast to existing patients, or a reactivation direct mailer to your patient list. You should reassure them of all the steps your practice is taking to guarantee their health and safety through contactless check-in, online forms, cleaning measures, and more.
2) Address patients that have no dental insurance
According to Market Watch, over 37 million people in the U.S. don’t have dental insurance. Due to this painful statistic, it is highly likely that patients without dental plans take even longer to visit the dentist due to the perceived cost.
In addition to those consumers, add in the millions of people who lost their jobs and dental benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The result ends up being a much higher number of dental patients who are strapped financially.
Thus, to stand out from your competition and capitalize on these new dental patient opportunities, consider offering additional payment options at your practice. Or, implement an in-house payment plan for a variety of procedures.
Plus, don’t forget to communicate these options through your digital marketing channels, as well as your practice’s website. You should also make note of having additional payment options on your Google My Business (GMB) page, since that’s how most new dental patients may find you first.
3) Focus on the right messaging
In order to address the current consumer’s state of mind, think of their current situation. The new patient persona standing in front of us post-COVID is someone who will be fearful of risk of exposure, and needs reassurance that your dental practice is going the extra mile to ensure their safety.
This messaging will build trust with your patients and make them feel safe coming back to the dental office. Use channels like social media to communicate your safety measures, and add content to your website to address the current situation.
Also, Google is vital in helping you to get that message across. So consider adding information about the safety measures you are taking to your Google My Business listing. To make your listing and updates more engaging, consider making it visual. Data suggests that online users are more likely to take action when a GMB listing has a variety of photos.
In addition to optimizing your online presence with the appropriate message, consider a traditional direct mail campaign to help you reach new dental patients. Once again, gaining their trust through the safety measures you take at the practice will place you ahead of your competition. Direct mail has a very long shelf life, and performs well in combination with digital marketing efforts.
4) Consider teledentistry
With many industries going virtual, dentistry is not far behind. Since the global COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of dentists nationwide have embraced teledentistry. They continue to see patients despite the shutdown of many businesses (dentistry included).
According to a recent survey, 78% of patients are likely to use teledentistry. Teledentistry also has additional benefits. According to the American Teledentistry Association, teledentistry can be more affordable to patients than in-office dentistry.
This can be especially beneficial during a crisis when it’s likely that a higher number of patients do not have dental insurance. Specifically for those patients, teledentistry can help drive them through the door at a lower cost and ultimately retain them as long-term patients. Plus, it improves access to care as well.
Additionally, it helps to align with the modern patient journey and the patient’s needs for more adequate ways of communication.
Acquire new dental patients through streamlined platforms
Maximizing your communication with your existing patients through digital and traditional channels, coupled with highly targeted tactics to bring in new dental patients during a crisis and beyond requires strategic planning.
This type of planning can be accomplished when you rely on streamlined systems to track your efforts organically, and through paid advertising.
Conversion Whale’s ORCA is the proven platform that streamlines the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Additionally, it provides topnotch resources for online education to help your practice team. ORCA is also the only platform in the industry that can measure patient intent in real-time.
To learn more about ORCA and the success Conversion Whale clients have seen, speak to the experts directly by visiting www.conversionwhale.com or filling out the form below.