We all hate going to the dentist. I mean, at least when you were a kid you got to pick out a cool prize afterwards. As an adult, all you get is a hairy arm scratching at your teeth for an hour. It’s awful. And because the prospect of going to the dentist is so dreadful (even anxiety-inducing), a carefully crafted dental ads strategy is crucial to the success of an orthodontic practice.
Attracting clientele for your dental practice requires different advertising strategies. You don’t have to convince anyone that they need to go to the dentist—we all know we should, we just don’t want to.
Your marketing campaign needs to be less about getting in front of your customer and more about getting the trust of your customer.
Prove to your audience that you are a friendly, trustworthy, and professional brand whose goal is to make the patient experience as comfortable as possible. Keep your advertising lighthearted and pressure-free, so there are no hard fillings.
Because most dental offices are small businesses with small budgets, we’ll explore a lot of ad strategies that are inexpensive (even free)! Try out one of these 17 simple strategies to attract more patients to your practice and to build greater loyalty with existing clients.
A fun way to promote your business is to host a contest or giveaway on social media. “Best smile” competitions or other challenges help encourage organic local sharing and client engagement. Patients share on social media, adding your location and hashtag to direct their audience back to your practice.
Social media giveaways also build brand awareness of your practice—who doesn’t love getting free stuff? Offer a prize that people are excited about, like a free teeth whitening kit. In order to enter the giveaway, have your followers tag three or more friends. This will encourage even those who aren’t patients to follow you on social media because there is real value in doing so (like the chance at whiter teeth)!
Creating social media profiles is the first step in social selling and advertising for your practice, but you can’t stop there. Rather than posting your contact information and a nice photo and calling it good, use your Facebook business page or Twitter account to engage a community of followers.
Stay in touch with your online community. Answer every question and share recent successes. Post content that will engage your followers: trivia, ask me anythings, behind-the-scenes and more. Share current photos of your team and office so that those who stumble upon your page can put a face to a name.
Use your social media profiles for more than just promotion. Instead, offer valuable information to patients and non-patients alike. If you can generate conversation and show that you’re there to help, you will draw in business.
In order for social advertising to spread the way you want it to, you need to create shareable content. Infographics, quotes, funny videos, FAQs, “how to”s—all of these things make great shares online. If you can, try to keep most of your content lighthearted, since going to the dentist typically isn’t.
Maintaining a blog is the cornerstone of any content marketing strategy, so make sure you write posts that others will want to read and then, share with their friends. Update blogs regularly to catch your audience (and Google’s) attention and share information of value. Giving away free knowledge is a great way to draw in customers and it can also help establish you as an expert in your industry, which is very important to your customers. No one wants to leave the dentist in more pain than when they got there.
Because getting a cavity filled isn’t the most enjoyable experience, focus on marketing the results of your work, not the services themselves.
Potential customers love to see before and after pictures as proof of what you can do for them. Ask for client permission to share pictures of their teeth and show off beautiful results like whitening, veneers and reshaping.
You could also create an in-office photo wall where patients can take and share their own before-and-after shots. You could rewards patients who share their #sweettooth photos online by entering them into a monthly drawing.
Building transparency and credibility is crucial for any dental practice and live videos are a unique way to do both. Followers love the personal, authentic and fun nature of live content. In fact, 82% of audiences actually prefer live video to other social posts.
And going live is free! All you need is a smart phone or web cam. You can pay to boost your posts after the fact, but Facebook and Instagram do the work for you by featuring live videos higher up in their feeds.
Q&As are a common format for live content, but you can great creative as well. Because there is so much anxiety associated with going to the dentist, you could calm the nerves of potential customers by giving a full behind-the-scenes tour of your practice and then saving it to your highlights. Current customers love the exclusivity of seeing what “really happens” at their dentist office and prospects can check out your practice without even having to go inside.
One advantage of dental advertising is that you know right where your audience. Local direct mail is a great advertising strategy for dental offices. You can distribute within a set radius of your office and you are guaranteed to hit your target audience.
Send a postcard, neighborhood newsletter, or even a “welcome to the neighborhood” discount. Focus on your most competitive features like prepay discounts, after school hours or exclusive services.
Dental ads are not only about attracting new customers, but retaining current customers. Even clients who know the drill, need a reminder sometimes.
Nowadays, you can automate appointment reminders with text, email or Google calendar alerts. Make this process as simple as possible in order to maintain a positive relationship with your valued patients.
As you consider paid advertisements, remember your demographics. Platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Insights allow you to target genders, ages and income levels.
Research has shown that women make 90% of dental buying decisions, so don’t brush them off. Provide expert information, a friendly practice and competitive pricing.
You can also target incomes for certain services. For example, advertise your teeth whitening services to higher income levels and affordable basic maintenance to lower income levels.
While Facebook paid ads have been around for a while, direct advertising within Facebook messenger is somewhat new. With 1.3 billion people using the app every month, you can use Messenger to promote destination ads, sponsored messages or home section ads.
Messenger home placement ads can be useful to reach another audience your missing on regular feeds. These promotions are listed in your prospect’s inbox—they look like another message from a friend, just a few lines down.
Google Maps is another unique place where you can try your hand at paid advertisements. While you can still place ads on Google’s search results pages, paying for local search ads within Google helps you optimize for “near me” queries—which make up 82% of mobile searches.
These cost-per-click ads appear at the top of Google Maps search results alongside a colored pin on the map. If you want these ads to work for you, it is critical that your business listing and map location are correct on Google (more on that later).
Often times, patients don’t think of health care practices as companies needing new customers. Asking for referrals is a great way to remind customers that you appreciate their business and that you are looking to grow.
Whenever you ask customers for a referral, make it worth their while. They are going out on a limb for you, so offer something in return. A double incentive, like free x-rays for them and their friend, is a great way to start.
As you are building your brand reputation, don’t neglect office culture or employee advocacy. Employees are one of the only truly unique things about your dental practice, so capitalize on that.
Team members can bring in excellent referrals as well. 52% of consumers say that they view employees as very credible sources of information about a product or service. Consider incentivizing employees to share on social media and give them a voice in creative strategies. If employees are invested in what they do and love where they work, they will also become brand advocates.
Establish yourself as an industry expert and a fixture in the community by holding a local class or workshop. You could guest lecture at the local university for pre-dental students or invite them to shadow you for a day. You could also consider teaching a class at an elementary school to help parents learn the best dental hygiene practices for their kids.
When you sponsor these workshops, be sure to hand out some branded swag. Give out free toothbrushes and educational pamphlets. One practice that did this with kindergarteners reported that 70% of parents switched to their practice afterwards.
Being involved in the community also includes sponsoring local teams and events. Many of us have seen little league or rec soccer jerseys plastered with the logo of a dental practice. This gets your name right in front or your target audience, and it also shows that you are an integral part of local culture, committed to helping families.
Setting up a booth at a neighborhood farmers market, festival or street fair is another great way to get in front of your target audience and to hand out some branded swag.
Claiming your Google My Business listing is the number one method to increase local SEO, a critical part of any marketing strategy. Google My Business (GMB) is a service that helps manage your online presence across Google (maps, reviews, etc). Current listings appear at the top of Google’s search results, either in the local 3-pack or answer box.
According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local services, but only 37% of local businesses have claimed a GMB listing. Claiming your business listing will help you rank for local searches—and it makes it easier for prospective customers to find your practice.
Setting up a GMB account is easy, but there are simple steps you can take to optimize your listing. Verify your business location, update changing hours and add relevant contact information. Share posts and photos to let prospective customers see the friendly faces that will calm their nerves when they come in.
And while you’re at it, make sure that all other listing sites (Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.) are up-to-date and accurate.
One of the primary reasons to claim your online listings is so that customers know where they can read and submit customer reviews.
Online reviews may be one of the things you are nervous about it—it is a risk to ask your clients to review your business, but the rewards are high. 73% of customers say that positive reviews make them trust a business more with 85% of customers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So don’t stoop to buying Yelp reviews, just provide opportunities for satisfied clients to have a voice.
Make it easy for customers to leave feedback online. Many companies choose to automate the review invitation process through services like ours. The more feedback you can get from happy patients, the more comfortable new prospects will be trying out your practice.
Of course, there will be some negative reviews in the mix, but as you take the time to respond to this feedback, you can spin the negative to a positive. In fact, 78% of respondents said that they trusted a business more after seeing them respond to feedback. So stay professional, say sorry and make reparation.
Finally, it’s a good idea to compile your positive reviews into a testimonials page on your website. You can also consider featuring video testimonial or other patient images that help to show off the good things that your practice is doing.
Building up local SEO is a free way to advertise for your dental practice. Here are a few basic strategies that will help your rank on Google’s search results and draw in potential customers:
Be personal, not clinical. Your potential customers know they need to see a dentist, but they don’t want to. Use dental ads to acknowledge discomforts and lower anxieties—maybe even make ‘em laugh.
If you can have fun, optimize for local searches, and offer the best service, your ad campaigns will be successful in no time, even award-winning. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even get a little plaque.
Tim is Founder and CEO of ZipBooks. He keeps his desk really nice and neat.