As we begin 2013 I thought it appropriate to look at social media marketing. Over the last 2 years I have learned quite a bit about social media and using it as a marketing tool, both for my pursuits as a dental educator and my dental practice. When I look back over what I have learned and how it has shaped using social media there are 4 distinct lessons or activities that combine to create success, Clarity, Visibility, Activity and Connectivity. In this and the next three posts I will look at each area.
One of the greatest lessons of marketing, whether it be social media or other types is clarity. You can not market effectively if you do not know what you are marketing. The three pieces of clarity are:
Who Are You? This is another way to look at the vision you have for your office. There are a multitude of ways to run a dental practice. From the size of the office based on number of dentists and team members, to the way you interact with insurance plans or the services you provide each practice is unique. Years ago you could simply hang out a sign that read ” Dentist”, declaring your presence and it was enough. Since those days, very few of us are the only person in our town or area providing dental services and the variety of services and delivery methods is what differentiates us far beyond our geographic location. Attracting new patients and marketing your practice begins by defining you who are, what services you provide and how you will provide them.
Who Are You Trying To Reach? Marketing is a net, designed to attract people to your business that will then want to take advantage of the services you offer. Casting that net takes time, effort and money, so be as efficient as possible. It can be very frustrating to cast a very wide marketing net and catch the attention of lots of people, only a few of whom will be interested in your practice. This shows up when we market and get a very low response, or people call the office and do not schedule because we aren’t on their insurance plan or they only want Saturday hours and the office is closed. Once you know who you are and can define what differentiates your practice and the specifics of what that looks like, identify who is most likely to be interested in the dental office you have created.
What Is Your Message? The two pieces of who you are as an office and who your ideal patient is allow you to craft a message that communicates that message to the right people. Saying “Emergencies Welcome” if your goal is to create a relationship based restorative practice that allows you to balance your personal life and work may not get you the results you want. If you want more new patient phone calls, saying “emergencies welcome” may create success. However, those patients may call at 2am on Saturday morning only wanting an extraction and then not seek your services again until they have another toothache. If your schedule is empty and you need patients to meet the financial obligations of your practice, than you may decide to follow a marketing approach that brings in any type of patient, and that is a valid approach, but it fits the model I have described above because who you are is a practice in survival mode that needs to produce more dentistry, and who you need to attract is anyone in need of dental services, therefore your message fits.However, if you are a practice in the growth phase and want to grow in a defined way that fits your vision, then market that message to those potential patients.
Successful marketing begins with clarity about who you are, who you are trying to reach and the best message to accomplish those goals.