It’s possible to successfully market your orthodontic practice even if you don’t have a lot of time or money. The key is to have a defined strategy; Every business needs a marketing plan. This should be your first step.
Once you have a marketing plan in place, now is your opportunity to be creative. One thing small businesses have in common is they are usually short on time and resources. But another thing they have in common is they’re rarely short on great ideas. And marketing your business can be exciting.
However, it’s important to know how to leverage your brilliant marketing solutions in the most effective way. Here are some common marketing mistakes orthodontists make, and more importantly, how to avoid them.
1. You Think You Don’t Need Marketing
This is one of the most common marketing mistakes orthodontists make. No matter how high your standards of care are or how well you deliver on them, you need to go to your audience. Don’t expect them to come to you. The most successful companies conduct rigorous marketing campaigns.
2. You Don’t Have a Website
Even if you have an established orthodontic practice and are well-known in your community, you still need to have a website. Most consumers search online first for products and services. If a prospective patient drives by your practice every day, they will still likely look up your name online before they decide to visit your practice in person. Many orthodontists are guilty of making this marketing mistake.
Once you establish a website, consider how your practice might benefit from having a blog. The content you share on your blog can give visitors to your website a sense of what you value, and also demonstrate that you are paying attention to the most recent research in the field of orthodontia. If you start a blog, it’s important to make sure all of the content is useful to your audience and is not overly self-promotional. A blog is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise.
3. You’re Ignoring SEO
Assuming you’ve made the decision to create a website (if you don’t already have one) after reading about mistake number two, it’s time to consider the benefits of even the most elementary search engine optimization (SEO) practices.
Small businesses are actually in a great position to take advantage of SEO strategies. However, many orthodontists think they need to be experts, or their digital presence will never be large enough to compete with national orthodontic practices. In reality, most Google searches are local because of location tracking services.
There are so many free resources for SEO available online; just starting to use keywords in your blog titles, title tags, and meta descriptions can have immediate results.
4. You Haven’t Identified What Makes Your Practice Unique
You definitely have competitors. But the way you run your practice and deliver services to your patients are different based on your philosophy and education. Why would a prospective patient choose your practice over another? If you can’t answer that question, it’s time to define it for yourself so you can explain it to prospective patients.
5. You’re Trying to Market to Everyone
Once you’ve identified your niche, you can begin reaching out to the patients you want. Perhaps you want to specialize in providing orthodontic services to teenagers, or you want to specialize in helping adults get braces. The kind of marketing that will appeal to kids in their teenage years will be different than what will resonate with adults.
6. You’re Ignoring the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing
A great referral is priceless: one referral can lead to another referral, and so on. And it’s free. Encourage your patients to spread the word. Many orthodontists offer a small token of appreciation when they receive a referral, for example, a gift card, passes to a local movie theater or simply a handwritten note expressing their gratitude.
7. You’re Avoiding Social Media
With so many options available, how do you know which social media network you should use to promote your practice? It can be scary. However, social media is one of the most inexpensive ways to get your practice’s name out there. Ask your existing patients what social media platforms they use and then go from there.
8. You’re Not Evolving Your Orthodontic Marketing Strategy
If you aren’t getting the marketing results you want, you need to evolve your strategy. Perhaps you are trying to increase lead generation on your website, or you are simply trying to increase the number of new patients you see every week. Not only is tracking analytics important, which we talk about later, it’s also helpful to know how the people who enter your office each day found you.
For example, when you see a new patient, ask them how they learned about your practice. If they say they saw a post on Instagram, it makes sense to funnel more of your marketing budget to paid social media posts. Don’t just set your strategy and forget it, continue to modify it to take advantage of what is working best for you.
9. You’re Avoiding Your Competition
Research who your competitors are, then pay attention to how they are approaching their marketing. You can learn a lot from a quick Google search or from looking at their social media accounts.
10. You’re Not Tracking Results
You can’t know what’s working if you don’t track results. Google Analytics offers an easy, intuitive way to track how many visitors you are getting to your website. If you pay for paid social ads, both Instagram and Facebook will help you track how many people are clicking on your ad.
If your goal is to increase the number of new patients you get each week, make sure someone is keeping track of this number so it is easily accessible. At the end of the week, you can compare results to previous weeks, think about what marketing efforts were active the weeks that you had more new patients, and potentially identify some trends.
Hopefully, you feel empowered to start marketing your practice, and feel more confident about your ability to do so. Don’t worry if it seems easier to identify what you shouldn’t be doing, this is actually a great first step toward identifying what you should be doing.