Dentists must improve marketing to remain profitable post-lockdown

After weeks in lockdown, dental surgeries are now permitted to open for face-to-face care, with the baseline expectation for urgent treatments – but with the flexibility to offer non-essential procedures.

Of course, it’s not quite so straightforward as simply throwing open your doors and heading back to business as usual. Every dental practice must demonstrate adequate infection prevention control (IPC) and provide staff with personal protective equipment (PPE). On top of this, all chair-side practitioners and nursing staff must have appropriate respirator masks.

It’s not just physical equipment needed either, but additional training on changes to procedure, as well as a reduction in capacity to enable safe social distancing. Plus, more time will be required between patients and at the start and end of every day to disinfect the surgery.

Naturally, these changes come at a price, so dentists will be taking a closer look at profit margins and reassessing the treatments they prioritise. What’s for sure is that a detailed review of their marketing strategies – or maybe the introduction a marketing strategy for many independent practices – will be essential to the long-term success of these businesses.

So, in light of these additional costs and challenges, what are the top priorities when it comes to marketing for dental practices and how can you best navigate reopening – and do so safely but also profitably?

Keep up the communication

A study by Dr Michael Heffernan published in dentistry.co.uk found that 80% of patients would need reassurances that practices are safe to attend, and that one in three are expecting to delay their appointments. Yet despite concerns around safety, half said they’d delay or cancel treatments if cost were to increase as a result of new Covid-19 measures.

Clearly, communication has never been more important. Patients need to be reassured you’ve made changes with their safety in mind and, after all, if you’ve gone to all that effort, why not shout about all that you’ve done?

Use social media and e-newsletters to keep patients in the loop, to assure them that you’re open once more and have measures in place for their protection.

You can then go into much more detail via extensive policy documents, showcasing the lengths your practice has gone to, and the changes your patients will need to know ahead of their visit. Make these documents easily accessible on your website and social channels, and send them out with your mailings, to be certain that your patients can’t miss these vital reassurances.

Promote your most profitable services

Whilst you’re shouting about being open once more, you have an opportunity to put your most profitable services front and centre.

For large reach at low cost, you’ll be hard pushed to beat paid social media. Budgets of as little as £75 per month can work incredibly well, provided your ad looks professional and engaging. What’s more, Facebook allows you to target audiences with great specificity, meaning you reach the best possible audience to make your ad spend work as hard for you as possible.

You should also give some thought to your search ranking, especially when it comes to high-worth key terms such as composite binding, Invisalign and dental implants. Putting some work into ensuring your website is optimised for these terms (and others important to your specific practice) will reap rewards as you rise up the search engine results pages – and see traffic increase as a result.

Given the relatively high costs of these cosmetic treatments, online marketing campaigns for dentists using Google AdWords can also produce excellent returns on investment – but you’ll need some professional help.

Take consultations online

If it wasn’t already mainstream, video calling most certainly is now. The coronavirus lockdown has meant people of all ages and technological abilities are now using the likes of Zoom and Skype regularly. This presents a huge opportunity, as dentists can now take more of their consultations online – knowing their patients will likely be more receptive to the idea than they may otherwise have been in the past.

The benefits here are numerous, as you’ll not only be able to reach people who may be reluctant to come in at first, you can also schedule video calls outside of regular hours – to keep the daytime more productive.

Drop the discount

Amid all the retail woes and concerns for the high street, it’s all been about sales and discounting of late. However, this approach shouldn’t necessarily be adopted everywhere. People realise that heavy discounting often results in a lower quality product – and dentistry isn’t somewhere to take the risk.

Promote the quality of your service, from everything to your initial consultations right through to the end treatment. This will keep your margins healthy but also – crucially – send out all the right messages about the kind of practice you operate. Again, social media for dentists can be a great starting point to communicate the culture of your business and promote a reputation for quality. Given the visual nature of the results you produce, your Facebook and Instagram feeds should be full of smiling testimonials to the work you do.

By following the four steps above, you can be sure your practise is at the forefront of the right people’s minds, you’re sending out the right message, and you remain profitable in challenging conditions. If you need assistance, we’re here to help. Please call Cyan Marketing on 01268 778555.