One of the more common questions that I get asked is: “What is the most cost-effective marketing approach?”
The answer: The most effective marketing which requires the least amount of money and effort on your part, and which provides you with the best quality patient, is internal marketing.
First impressions are lasting impressions:
We are talking front desk here, not impression moulds. When you or your staff answer the phone, you must be sure to stop and put your best foot forward before you pick up the phone. Other points to watch for are that you are not chewing gum, smoking or laughing when you pick up the phone.
Sound professional and caring. Be interested in what your patient/client, or a prospective one, is saying. Do not sound needy, overworked or exhausted. These are turn-offs.
Service, Service, Service:
You want to deliver absolutely wonderful care to each patient/client who phones in or comes into your practice. Be sure to concentrate on that with each and every patient or client, no matter how annoying or difficult they may be: they do deserve, as one of your patients or clients, to have the best possible care.
Don’t be fake or phony with patient/clients as they may see through that false front. Find some things you like about the person and focus on those instead, and you will soon find your affinity for the person goes up, resulting in a better relationship.
Ask for Referrals:
Never be shy about asking patients if they would be willing to refer friends, family, neighbors and coworkers to you. Many of them will be tickled pink to have people they know come to see you for your excellent service.
You could create a before-and-after book for your reception area featuring photos of patients before their work with you and their results. Of course, you would need their cooperation and agreement to help out in this way.
Unfortunately, very few practices get sufficient patient referrals to survive on. A ratio of 50 per cent of your new patients coming via patient referrals would be considered a good percentage.
Referrals from dentists:
The next best marketing is to establish and build referrals from your local dentists and dental specialists. This is a relationship that has changed dramatically over the years, moving from the denturist going hat in hand to a dentist and asking for him to refer, to dentists and dental specialists now approaching denturists.
Be open and receptive to dentists to refer and don’t be afraid to approach them and ask about whether they are accepting patients that you have who need dental services.
Send letters to local dentists outlining your services. There is a trend in dentistry with more and more dentists being more than happy to send their denture work to someone else. Make that someone else you by ensuring that you provide high-quality care and service to every patient that a dentist refers to you and be sure to let the dentist know what you have done for their referrals. This not only keeps the dentist informed but also keeps your name in the forefront. The dentist is not likely to forget you if the patients he refers are enthusiastic about their visits with you. Most dentists want to help their patients and want what is best for them. He is placing a trust in you when he refers and he wants results for his patient.
Advertise in your local community newspaper. Generally, this is less costly than a daily paper and more effective. Some of the statistics concerning community newspapers are actually quite eye-opening. Community newspapers in Canada are more widely read than daily newspapers and more than 71 per cent of all adults read them. There is little difference in readership between paid and free community newspapers.
When advertising in your community newspaper, be sure to make the ad as large as you can and repeat it often. It is better to have an ad run in several issues than to make it large and run it only once.
A number of papers have last-minute advertising space which they sell off at reduced rates. Be sure to ask about this.
TV Guide Channel:
TV Guide Channel or Roll-Up Channel is often far less expensive than you might think. The rates vary hugely depending on the city or town where it is. I have heard rates varying from $1500 a week to $500 per year. Check out your local cable station and see what they have available and what their rates actually are.
There are a wide variety of other marketing approaches including direct mail, coupon envelopes, radio, etc. However, I have found the above approaches the most cost-effective when it comes to external marketing.
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