How to effectively market your orthodontic practice during the COVID-19 pandemic

With toilet paper shortages and orthodontic practices temporarily shutting their doors—perhaps even yours—marketing seems like an unusual thing to think about. But keeping your marketing going strong throughout this pandemic is the key to ensuring you will have plenty of patients and a solid practice when things start to return to normal.

If you don’t currently have a marketing plan, now is a good time to put one in place. If you’re already marketing your practice, it’s time to get creative.

Create a Timely Marketing Strategy to Address the Pandemic

Everything is different now, which means your marketing strategy should be too. Since you most likely cannot start new patients right now, your marketing should be geared toward establishing leads now who will turn into patients once you are able to welcome people to your office again.

Create a marketing plan that spans several months, starting with introducing people to you, your staff, and your practice. Make a personal connection by talking about your own experience with temporarily closing your doors, homeschooling children, what you’re doing to entertain yourself, different recipes you’ve cooked or crafts you’ve done with your kids.

Consider offering a promotion for potential new patients who fill out a form on your website or request an appointment while you are closed. This gives them an incentive to schedule and provides something for them to look forward to when this is all over.

Spend Time on Marketing Tasks that Never Get Done

When it’s business as usual, it can be hard to dedicate hours to marketing your practice. With fewer or even no patients to take care of, now is the perfect time to work on all of the projects that have been neglected. 

Website: Take a good look at your website. Does it need to be updated or replaced? Website design is something that can easily be done remotely. Video calls can be held to discuss details, branding questions can be answered through Google Docs or email, and the actual design is done completely online. You can have a brand new website to show off to new patients and prospects when things get back to normal.

Social Media: People will be spending more time than ever on social media since many are home because of the pandemic, and now you have time to join in on the conversation. Create a social media calendar to determine what to post each week or month. Research the best networks for you to be a part of. Keep in touch with current and potential patients, and provide updates about your office. Platforms like Hootsuite and Edgar allow you to schedule posts ahead of time and reshare popular content on a regular basis, so your social media can stay updated even after you are back to seeing patients regularly.

Email Marketing: Email is the perfect way to keep in touch with patients and leads without making phone calls or spending on postage to send regular mail. Use this approach not only to update your patients on your constantly changing current status during the pandemic, but also to share photos of your staff and tell them about upcoming events or promotions. Hubspot and MailChimp both allow you to schedule emails in advance, so you can have a few ready to send even after you get back to work.

Promotional items and collateral: Selecting new promotional items to give to patients and hand out at events and school visits is fun, but it can definitely be a time suck. Inventory what you currently have, then browse your favorite sites and order some items to replenish your stock. 

If you’ve been wanting an informational piece or brochure to give to dentists or prospects, take this time to decide what you want it to say and contact a marketing company to design it for you. Again, this can all be done remotely.

Offer Hope or Comic Relief to Existing Patients in Uncertain Times

While it’s important to keep your patients informed about what is going on with your practice and the measures you are taking to keep everyone safe, it’s also important to stay positive. Assure your social media followers and email recipients that everything will be fine and back to normal soon. Share some of the memes and comical posts filling your newsfeeds. Let them know that it’s okay to laugh and even better to stay hopeful.

Resisting the urge to simply curl up in a ball in bed and taking advantage of this unplanned extra time to improve your marketing will ensure your practice is ready to move forward when you reopen your doors to patients. We will all get through this, and your practice will emerge even stronger with the proper plan in place.