By Misty Absher Clark

What a difference 10 years has made in the dental world. Private practices were once the main business strategy for dentists. Today, with the number of corporate dental giants growing, the changing needs of new dentists, and how prospective patients obtain information, the way private practice owners grow their businesses has changed.

Trying to grow your practice the same way you did 10 years ago may not work for you any longer. It was once unheard of, dare I say “unprofessional,” to market a dental practice. Today it is the norm. This means you have to think more strategically and approach marketing your practice the same as any business would approach marketing.

Here are tips to compete with the corporate practices:

1. Know your why—Your “why” for being a dentist and choosing this profession is probably your best tool to guide you through a marketing plan. Your “why” is what makes you different, and it cannot be duplicated by anyone else. It is what makes you authentic. It is how you position yourself. Package that “why” and create a succinct message that people can remember. Then everything you promote should be tied to this message.

2. Frequency trumps reach—Your marketing dollar cannot stretch as far as the corporate dollar. Therefore, you have to market smarter. People need to hear, see, feel, and experience your message a minimum of five to seven times before it resonates with them. What can you do to maximise the number of times something is seen, felt, or heard? This is where you should focus your marketing dollars. It doesn’t benefit you to put all of your marketing budget into one magazine ad that reaches 100,000 people if those people won’t see it more than once or twice. However, if you can invest that same budget into marketing to one group of people who will see, feel, and hear your message many times, you will see a far greater return on investment. Remember, corporate dentistry needs volume. You simply need quality.

3. Call to action—Be sure to ask for what you want in your marketing efforts. Ask people to call you, schedule an appointment, and visit your website. If you have a patient in your office and you would like the person to refer to you, ask. Whatever you want someone to do, simply ask!

4. Customer service—Provide exceptional service all of the time to your patients. People will pay more to be treated well. Know your patients, listen to your patients, and always provide the best experience possible.

5. Build your value—Always tell patients what you’re doing differently. Let them know about new services and technologies you’ve added to the practice. You’re responsible for educating your patients about why they should choose you every time. If you’re not building value and marketing to your patients, someone else is. The grass can look greener on the other side if you don’t remind them how green it is on your side. You can build your value by using patient communication software for emailing patients, social media, your website, and internal office signage.

Follow these five simple steps and you will be on the path to creating an actionable marketing plan that works. Make your mark, think strategically, and you can turn the tables and make it more difficult for the corporate giants to compete with you!