Attracting new patients to your dental specialist practice is tough these days. I get it. As a periodontist, I’ve seen our referrals go from 95% via dentists three years ago down to 60%. It’s gotten so bad that the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) reached out to me to give a 4 hour workshop on this exact topic at their annual meeting in October (hope to see some of you there.)
Category of ONE
Let’s face it. The specialist-generalist referral pattern is changing. We must not allow consumers to commoditize us. In their mind, a dentist is a dentist is a dentist. If you allow them to do this, it makes their buying decision much easier. Consumers are trying to justify in their minds why you are just like every other dentist. If you let that happen, you’re allowing them to make an “apples to apples” comparison which leads them to purchasing on PRICE only (lowest price). This is NOT a good place to reside.
Building authority is the key.
I had a patient (from the internet) ask me recently, “Doc, why can’t you do the implant AND put the tooth on it? Can’t all dentists do that?” There are so many UNEDUCATED consumers out there that need our help. We must do our part to stand out, be their beacon of light and place ourselves in a Category of ONE.
Cross Pens ( high-end pens), has figured out how to be in a Category of ONE. Would you pay $249 for a pen? Obviously there are those out there that will. They developed the Cross Peerless TrackR designed for folks who want to enjoy their expensive pen without the worry of it getting lost. The pen is hooked to an app on your smartphone that sends a notification if you walk off and leave it. If you do manage to lose it, the embedded tracking device allows users to locate it. Who says a pen is just a pen?
Apart – Above – Alone
One of my marketing mentors, Dan Kennedy, created one of the best marketing triangles out there (Message-Market-Media). Recently he developed a new one that I think fits us perfectly:
Apart – Above – Alone
Apart – You have to do everything in your power to let consumers know that you aren’t just another dentist. If you don’t make it a point to do this, you WILL be lumped in with everybody else. This applies when both marketing direct to consumers and also to dentists. You risk being thought of as “another specialist” if you show up to dental offices with the norm (candy, donuts, referral pads).
Above – You MUST place yourself above all other specialists and dentists so consumers could settle for one of those or, if they are fortunate, get to work with you. This is one of my top strategies I recommend for my private clients. You can do this by:
- unassailable authority
- becoming a celebrity
- impressive social proof (rave reviews, testimonials, etc)
- endorsements via center-of-influencers
Alone – Providing information in a controlled environment (shock and awe packages delivered direct to consumer) which circumvents any additional search on their part. This involves a combination of both offline and online media.
#1 Way To Start Attracting New Patients to Your Dental Specialist Practice
The best way I’ve found to start attracting new patients is via marketing information. This is also called content marketing. Sounds simple but it has many moving parts to it. Here are a few steps to get you started in the right direction:
1 Pick one area of practice you want to be known as an EXPERT. This could be implants, third molars, invisalign, soft tissue grafting, etc.
2 Focus ALL your efforts of developing relevant questions and information to those that need these services. For instance, if you want to be THE IMPLANT EXPERT, what do consumers need to know about them? What questions are they already asking your office? Write those down. Answer them. It’s simple. I get that but most will NOT take the time to do it.
Once this information is written down, then you are ready to disperse in using multiple different media outlets:
- blog posts
- thumb drives
Don’t let this overwhelm you. There are many people out there that can help with this. You have to be willing to pull the trigger to do it and the rest is easy.
3 Marketing INFORMATION and NOT the practice. Too many specialists get this wrong. Consumers don’t care about our technology or our state of the art building, they want to know benefits and results of our services.
4 Speaking – Most specialists are used to speaking to referring offices. This is one of the best ways to have influence over a mass of people at once. When you speak, you are automatically seen as an authority by your audience. Do you remember what you want to be an EXPERT for in #1 above? Speaking on this topic direct to consumers is one of the best ways to generate highly qualified leads. Implant experts should consider “Implant Presentations” direct to the public. (if you need help with this, let me know.)
Becoming an authority starts with distancing yourself from others. Decide on the ONE area you want to be known for and use the above areas to help you create an expert status.
What are some of the specific things you’re currently doing to put yourself in a Category of ONE?