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Step by Step Guide

We provide you a sequential format on ways to market your practice. It begins from analysis of your current practice and ends with our suggestion for the betterment and improvement of your current practice.

Marketing without research is similar to treatment without diagnosis. You must first assess your practice. The first step is to understand your current situation in terms of practice area, patients and practice itself. This can be accomplished by

1. Assessing the make up of your practice

Patient satisfaction can be best judged by knowing what their needs are. In order to make a meaningful assessment of your practice, you should take a look at your patient base.

  • Self Assessment: Sit with your staff and conduct an assessment of your practice.Ask questions like
    • Do we target a particular type or age group of patients?
    • Who and how do we market ?
    • Are our marketing strategies effective?
    The answers to these questions will help you and your staff understand where your practice stands in terms of quality and patient satisfaction.
  • Target Patients: Research your current data to determine patient demographics. This will help you in understanding the needs of the people/ patients around you.
2. Keeping pace with the change

Dentists need to stay abreast of the changes that impact the way their patients relate to health care services. Patients today have access to health information through televisions, internet, etc. which makes them either well informed or misinformed. Therefore the dentist needs to be alert.

3. Interpreting the information

Transform your inputs into useful and actionable goals for your practice. Target the diverse groups of people in your practice.

The success of your marketing strategy depends on a thoughtful, studied development of objectives appropriate to your particular practice.

Practice objectives
  • How do I want my practice to grow?
  • How will I get there?
Value of setting objectives
  • Focus shared by all the members of dental team.
  • Commitment of time, effort and financial resources.
  • Motivation to work towards same objective.
  • Define and acknowledge the results of everyone’s efforts.
Action Plan

An action plan defines your marketing strategy. The entire dental team should be involved in formulating this. This ensures that the dentist and the staff are all aware about the goals and have a clear understanding of achieving them. This plan should be reviewed and revised regularly to ascertain that the marketing plan is keeping pace with your patient's needs. This requires

  • That you define your objectives, determine strategy and select tactics that are specific, quantifiable and measurable.
  • Define responsibilities, estimate time and money and fix dates for completion of the defined activities.
  • Frequent review and revision to reflect actual budgets and deadlines.
  • Provide focus and momentum to your marketing efforts.

This section presents tools to implement your marketing strategy and meet your specific objectives.

1. Create an identity
The following activities will create your identity:
  • Develop a practice brochure. Make sure the brochure addresses the benefits of your practice. Distribute the brochure as often as possible.
  • Provide current reading material in your reception room.This will portray your image and invoke patient interests.
  • Develop a patient newsletter. Send its to all active patients at least once per quarter. Newsletters and brochures can also be sent to local establishments that cater to the types of patients you would like to attract to your practice.
  • Create stickers that say "Compliments of .. " Put these stickers on toothbrushes, toothpaste or other appropriate give-away item. The words "Compliments of ... " help the patient feel a special bond with the giver.
  • Develop a clinic logo that projects your image and makes you easy to identify and remember. Use your logo consistently on all clinic stationery, signs, brochures, business cards, etc.
  • Print patient education information, such as instructions for handling a dental emergency, on the back of your business cards. It will make your patients feel that their dental needs can be addressed if an emergency arises.
  • Provide a "smile" book in your reception room so patients can see what services are available. Upon viewing the photos, patients may be more likely to discuss cosmetic procedures.
  • Place a biography of each staff member on a bulletin board in your reception room. It allows patients to "meet" the staff before the actual visit.
2. Building Patient Relationship

Excellent patient relationships help ensure that your patients talk positively about you and your practice. This could lead to increased patient referrals and recommendations. Listed below are some ideas to help build patient relationships.

  • Be on time.
  • Take photographs of the patient's teeth and let them see for themselves what their dental needs are. Then upon completion of the case take photos again to show patients the changes the treatment made.
  • Sometimes offer complementary cleaning to your regular patients.
  • Follow-up with all your referral sources after a patient visits. One of the most important aspects in a referring relationship is a quick report to the referring professional.
  • Track your referral sources. This tells you who is sending patients your way and also tell you who has stopped or reduced referrals so you can work to rebuild the relationships if necessary.
  • Make new patients feel comfortable.
3. Connecting with your Community

Efforts and participation in community events can generate visibility for you and your clinic.

  • Volunteer to speak about relevant dental topics before community groups, school groups, neighbourhood associations, etc.
  • Introduce yourself to local pharmacists, paediatricians, physicians and other community healthcare providers. Be sure to give them business cards and your practice brochures.
  • Participate in local health camps. Offer oral exams or other services to participants. Distribute practice brochures, and business cards.
  • Send introductory letters and practice brochures to apartment owners and realtors in your area.You may also want to arrange meetings with these people.
4. Accessing the local media

Exposure in local print, radio and television is another way to build awareness about your practice. The media is accessed for publicity and paid advertising. It can increase your practice's visibility among current and prospective patients, as well as with potential referral sources. Accessing the media can include the following activities

  • Ask patients what local publications they read. This will give you an idea of good places to feature ads for your clinic.
  • Place an advertisement in your local yellow pages.
5. Communication Skills

Regardless of the size of your practice, neighbourhood or specialty, communication skills are essential to your marketing plan. Here are some aspects to keep in mind when you interact with patients.

  • Interpersonal Skills
    • Each patient will perceive your words and communication style differently. Try to tailor your style to suit individual patient needs.
    • Understanding must not be assumed, it must be worked for.
  • Listening Skills
    • Make the environment conducive to listening.
    • Avoid complex or vague topics and emotional reactions to the patient or the subject matter.
    • Don't interrupt.
    • Don't plan your answer while the patient is talking.
    • Focus attention on the patient.
    • Use encouraging language.
    • Ask for clarification from the patient when you are in doubt.
    • Paraphrase the patient's inputs to recheck facts.
  • Speaking Skills
    • Prepare yourself. Record brief notes of each patient's visit, then review the file before the next visit.
    • Use specific terms.
    • Whenever possible, use the patient's language when communicating complex terms or procedures.
    • Explain instruments and procedures.
    • Discuss the benefits of treatment.
    • Use communication tools (charts, photos, etc.)
    • Communicate one idea at a time.
    • Use analogies and examples.
  • Non-verbal Skills
    • Your patients can read more meaning from your non-verbal communication than from the words you use.
    • Non-verbal communication expresses feelings and attitudes, so be sure your body language makes you seem open and approachable.
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