At Keating Dental Arts, we believe that a dentist’s continuing education is crucial. We’re thrilled to be working with Dr. Jack Ringer, an accomplished dentist with a passion for educating fellow dentists. In this second installment, we’re discussing the importance of marketing and social media for a dental practice, and how it’s changing the dental industry.
This week we have the second part of our introduction to Dr. Jack Ringer. We’ll be working with Dr. Ringer to produce more educational content, and we’re thrilled to have him working with us. He’s passionate about creating quality educational resources for dentists, and we have some great things planned.
This episode we’re discussing what dentists really want and need, as well as digital marketing for dentists and why social media is so crucial.
Changes to Marketing in Dentistry
Throughout the years, the dental industry has made some major changes in how they market to patients. The Dental Association previously has strict regulations on marketing, even including the size of a dentist’s sign. But as marketing developed and the internet grew, dentists began realizing the power of digital marketing, analog marketing like Yellow Pages is now a nearly defunct method.
As dentists began increasing their marketing efforts, two different methods developed. One was a volume-based dental office, where they would offer deals like “two fillings for the price of one”, and they were focusing on bringing in everyone.
The other method was focusing on a specific type of clientele. These dentists focused on quality dentistry and patients that were willing to pay. These patients still want a good value, but they also realize high-quality dentistry isn’t cheap, and are willing to pay a premium.
When a dentist does high quality work with an emphasis on value, the goal becomes sharing information. Why porcelain veneers are ideal, what credentials to look for, and other topics become articles on their websites, giving visitors a look at why they should become patients.
Social Media Changes the Dental Industry
When social media marketing began, it was a rush for companies to find the best way to use it for their audience. Now, though, it’s a must to be on social media and to have a marketing budget specifically for Facebook and Google ads.
Having a presence on social media helps your dental practice’s organic presence, and your social media pages are some of the first results that will show in a search engine. As Dr. Ringer states, “You have to have a very dynamic and active digital footprint.” This digital footprint involves not just a mobile-friendly website and helpful articles, but a Facebook page that’s regularly updated.
The search engine optimization algorithms are complex and always changing, but by using these few key marketing tactics, you’ll be able to help your dental practice place better in search results.
The Importance of Reviews for Search Engine Placement
Reviews are one of the most important pieces of your dental practice’s online presence. Google reviews are easily accessible from search results and Google Maps, while Yelp reviews are becoming increasingly important while contributing to your company’s ranking.
Facebook business pages also offer reviews, which should be an important piece of your Facebook strategy. By encouraging your patients to leave reviews, you can show how happy your patients are with your work and your staff.
Aside from word-of-mouth referrals, a Google search is likely the biggest factor to bringing in new patients. This means that reviews and an active online presence are critical for improving your online presence.
Balancing Negative Patient Reviews On Yelp
No matter how hard you may try to help a patient leave happy, that may not always be the case. And that’s okay. Even if they leave a negative review on Yelp, you have the opportunity to respond. And, if you’ve been directing patients to leave reviews on Yelp and they’re overwhelmingly positive, you have nothing to worry about.
One or two negative reviews in a list of twenty positive reviews will not make your rating suffer very much. You definitely want to consider what the negative reviews are trying to say, but realize that you won’t always be able to help some people.
Becoming a Dental Specialist or Generalist
There are often dental practices that perform nearly any procedure and never refer to other specialized practices. While this may seem like a way to keep business, it can hurt in the long run. It’s important to realize where your strengths lie, and build a referral network with other specialists.
So instead of performing every root canal, orthodontic procedure, or periodontal surgery, consider where your strengths lie, and reach out to other dentists to build a network you can refer patients to. This helps build relationships with dentists who can refer work back to you, but will ultimately help you give better care to your patients.
This is the same in marketing your dental practice. You’re busy, and your staff is busy. If you want to truly focus on improving your online presence, then you need to bring in someone who’s sole focus is digital marketing. (And specifically marketing within the dental industry.) It’s important to engage with your audience on social media, and it’s important to have someone who knows the right way to do it.
The Importance of a Skilled Dental Lab
Dr. Ringer emphasizes that patients are beginning to care about the lab, not just the dentist. They realize that the dentist’s procedure is nothing without quality dental restorations, which means they’re researching dental labs.
If a dentist isn’t bragging about the lab they use, that should be a red flag. While it’s not a necessity to disclose the lab you use, it will reflect much better on your dental practice if you do.
This is another facet of patient education. If your website has a blog (which it should), you can take the opportunity to share why you’ve chosen the dental lab you have. (And no, this isn’t because we want the shout out! It’s all about making your patients comfortable about their dental restorations.)
Utilizing All Social Media Outlets for Your Dental Practice
While Facebook is important, social media outlets like Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat can all help tell your dental practice’s story. Making the decision on what to focus on can be confusing, but it comes down to demographics.
If you’re trying to reach millennials, focusing on Instagram and Snapchat are great. If you want to target moms who will bring their children in, you can work on Facebook and Pinterest.
Just like how some dentists would get great response from a radio ad while others wouldn’t see the needle move, every business has a unique target audience that changes how they should be approaching social media.
Know Your Dental Practice’s Strengths, and Focus on Them
It’s important to know your strengths and to focus on them. There are times when dentists will broaden the scope of cases they take on, especially with insurance and industry changes.
However, it’s often better to focus on one or two areas 100% rather than five different areas at 20% of your time. This will help you get better at your craft and help people with specific problems, rather than a wide array of procedures you may not be as comfortable with.
Specializing is not a bad thing. Finding your niche and marketing to it can help expand your business without adding services you may not be able to fully implement.
Before, word-of-mouth was the top way dentists were seeing new patients. Now, because of the increased competition, marketing is key. Network with dentists in other specialties, focus on your social media efforts, and invest in a quality website.
Finding Your Dental Practice’s Marketing Partner
When looking to hire an individual or agency to market your dental practice, it’s important to find someone with at least a working knowledge of the dental industry. Doing so means they’ll know the terminology and how to connect with patients, making it a valuable way to spend your marketing dollars.
People see right through marketing. They’ve seen enough fake news to know what is real and genuine, which means your marketing needs to be genuine. Continue to update your website regularly, including blog posts and other dental news your patients should know about.
Social media is here to stay, even though it’s going to continue to continue to develop and shift in the coming months and years. Begin now, and it will be easier to modify your strategy for new platforms as they’re developed.
Marketing has changed dentistry a lot over the past ten years, and social media has created an excellent space to connect with your patients. By focusing on your website and social media presence, you can give your patients value and stay in their news feed so that when they need a dentist, they’ll give you a call.