Seeking new patients is an ongoing part of growing a successful dental practice.
The American Dental Association's Guidelines for Practice Success module on managing marketing offers a variety of resources to help guide dentists through marketing strategies that can help create loyal patients.
Before beginning a marketing campaign, it’s a good idea to check federal and state regulations that affect how dental practices may promote their services, as well as the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct. Dentists who follow the regulatory guidelines can minimize legal risks while they develop professional and creative marketing tools to highlight their dental practices.
Below are five steps for launching a marketing plan. Find more marketing resources at ADA.org.
1. Identify or create your practice's brand. The purpose of your brand is to tell current and prospective patients how your practice is different from others in the area. Your brand — and all of the elements and materials that support it — should be developed with the purpose of appealing to patients.
2. Devise a strategy and establish benchmarks. Make sure you know your target audience, goals and preferred tactics. Possible benchmarks to assess your campaign's success include increased calls, more scheduled visits, fewer no-shows, greater engagement in social media and more referrals.
3. Build a great and responsive website. Your website is your practice's most powerful marketing tool to attract prospective patients, and it also needs to be a resource for existing ones. You can build your website yourself using a readily available template, hire a qualified professional or operate somewhere in the middle. It is important that your website complies with all federal, state and local laws, so refer to the ADA white paper Seven Tips to Check Your Website for Legal Risks for more information.
4. Track patient calls at the front desk. Make sure your front desk staff consistently ask first-time callers how they heard about your practice. Reviewing these responses will help you determine which marketing tactics are producing an acceptable return on investment and how many prospective patients are becoming active ones.
5. Ask satisfied patients for referrals and online reviews. Many prospective patients read online reviews when researching health care providers. Encourage patients who compliment you or your staff to post their feelings online. Make sure you and your team are aware of applicable federal and state privacy laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, before responding to any online reviews.