Today marketing is no longer just a nice-to-have for practice owners but has become a must. We asked Daniel Bäumer, who runs his own practice – Zahnmedizin am Bodensee – in Germany, to share a few insights into the basics of practice marketing.
The days when dentists could ignore marketing are long gone. Anyone who opens a new office will need to ensure different areas of marketing are covered, and long-established practices, too, need to re-evaluate their situation to keep up with competitors.
Define your practice profile
When I started generating my own marketing profile and created the brand “Zahnmedizin am Bodensee” I asked myself: how can I attract more patients to my office who need the services I specialize in, which in my case are periodontology and implant dentistry. My first step was to clarify my professional profile and then turn that into a text that focuses on my patients’ needs and the benefits they could expect from my service. I used the information I had defined to create my brand and also to fill my website.
What you and your team represent must be easily visible to patients, so the kind of questions I asked myself were:
- Which audience am I targeting?
- What makes my office unique or memorable?
- What does my practice do better than others?
- How do my services represent added value to patients?
Of course “offline marketing” still plays an important role. In my opinion, word-of-mouth recommendations are still one of the key channels towards finding new patients. An active network with other doctors and therapists is important and placing ads in local newspapers is also a good idea. And marketing doesn’t end at the door to your practice: the image you create in the minds of potential patients should be visible in the office, too, when they first come for an appointment. I focused on creating a calm, inviting and professional atmosphere through the interior design at my practice and the way my team communicates with patients. For example, my staff always contact patients the day after a surgical procedure to ask about how they are feeling, and this “care call” is highly appreciated. The waiting room also represents an important marketing opportunity to promote practice services with brochures and a screen.
Set up a professional website
Almost any offline marketing activity demands some kind of online follow-up, so it is essential to have a professional online presence in the form of a really good website. Your website should provide all the information about you, your team, and your services that a patient might want to know and give an impression of your office and facilities. It’s a good idea to have a photographer take professional pictures of your team and location, but you can buy additional pictures from providers like Adobe Stock or iStockphoto to illustrate your content. I had great fun using a drone to take pictures of the building exterior.
To see how well your website is functioning in terms of visitors, you can analyze website interaction using web analytics tools that track and report on your website traffic. I personally use Google Analytics, a plugin that evaluates website activity like user location, session duration and pages per session – this allows me to better understand what people are really looking for.
I have the impression that more and more patients come to my office after searching on Google, which is why my Google search ranking is really important. To improve my ranking, I use search engine optimization (SEO), which increases traffic to my website. Another very effective way of achieving this is to place Google ads. For example, I have chosen specific areas where prospective patients will see my ad when they search for “dental implants”, as this is my specialty.
Get active on social media
Once you have your website, it’s time to promote your online presence on other channels. The keyword here is social media. As Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are the most frequently used platforms, it makes sense to focus on these three in the beginning. I decided to start with a Facebook page and an Instagram account, as creating video for YouTube content takes more time. Around 1 billion people use Instagram each month and 60% of Instagram users log in every day, spending 30 minutes daily on the app. If you’re new to social media, just start building a presence – you can report on any new equipment, techniques and services that will benefit patients. If you don’t have many followers initially, you can place ads, like on Google, to reach out to more people. Besides social media platforms, it is interesting to check how often you appear on rating portals in your country like Yelp and Google.
During my marketing journey, I found that marketing today has become more important, more complex and more time-consuming. Creating new online content keeps me quite busy, but I enjoy it. Understanding web design, however, was a completely new field for me, as were deciding how the logo should look and which colors and fonts represent my style. However, if you’re too busy with your office taking care of your patients and coworkers, I believe it is a good idea to hire an agency to support you with your marketing activities – perhaps just to get you started or to accompany you over the long term.
Dr. med. dent. Daniel Bäumer studied dentistry at the Universities of Heidelberg and Minnesota. His post-graduate education led him to the Department of Dental Prosthetics at the University of Munich (Daniel Edelhoff), the private practice of Markus Hürzeler & Otto Zuhr (periodontology and implant dentistry) and as an ITI Scholar to the University of Florida (William Martin). After working in various offices, he now maintains a private practice in Lindau at Lake Constance.
If you are interested in dental practice marketing or how to grow your practice in general, then our new Dental Practice Management course is for you!