NAPB dental practice broker Marketing to the Anxious Dental Patient

Marketing to the Anxious Dental Patient

Fear of the dentist is considered one of the top phobias, along with fears of heights spiders. Patients have dental fears for many reasons, including poor past experiences with other dentists, fear of the equipment used to perform dental procedures or general pain and discomfort around their mouth that may be exacerbated by dental work.

As a dentist, part of your marketing plan needs to include reaching this population of patients. Every day you come across anxious patients in your chair, and typically they find themselves at your practice because they have a dental emergency that cannot be overlooked anymore. It’s your job once you get they’re in your chair to convince them that the being at the dentist’s office isn’t so bad after all. Help them understand that it’s in their best interest to have regular check-ups and cleanings to avoid the emergency dental procedures that are more involved and far more costly.

  1. Patient Reviews: One of the most effective tools for marketing to this population is through patient reviews. In order to get the reviews that you need for your website and social media pages, you want to make sure the process to leave a review by a patient is simple and straightforward. Many patients, especially those that may be fearful of dentists will rely heavily on reviews by others to make their decision on which dentist they will go to when an emergency arises.
  2. Social Media: Use your website and social media to show behind the scenes images and even videos of your dental practice. If you’ve got a patient that doesn’t mind being on your website, do a quick video of them in the chair showing them smiling afterward.
  3. Blogging: Writing articles specifically for the readers that have dental phobias is another great way to market to this population. If you’re taking the time to write blog posts about dental anxiety, they will likely feel that you are sensitive to their needs.
  4. Amenities: If your dental practice has amenities that are designed to help a fearful patient, make sure those features are mentioned in all of your marketing materials. Whether it’s nitrous oxide to sedate, soothing music, or a TV that’s available for patients while they’re in your dental chair, make sure these options are shared. It may just be the one thing that gets the anxious patient to come see you.

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3 Common Barriers to an Effective Dental Team

A strong team is the backbone of a successful dental business.

Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, there can be miscommunication’s between dentists and dental staff.

Whether you are looking to sell your practice, or you are interested in having a cohesive operation in the short term, an efficient team is important.

Here are 3 common barriers that can get in the way of an effective dental team.

  1. You’re trying to hire (and not train) the best team

This is one of the most common mistakes in dental practices.

It’s easy to assume that there are always enough people out there that are competent at the job that you’re offering.

More often than not, however, it’s difficult to find staff that are well trained in all areas of your business. And even if they are trained, they’re not familiar with your particular protocols and won’t yet know how to be efficient in your office.

Fortunately, staff are easier to train than most managers assume, so if you make an effort to hire intelligent and ambitious people with potential, it will go a long way to the establishment of an effective team.

  1. You’re not looking at training as a never-ending process

A second error that’s often made by dentists is when new staff members are brought in and their training is limited.

While there is something to be said for letting staff members stand on their own two feet when it comes to responsibilities, it’s common practice that dentists will not invest enough time in truly training their staff.

They may point them in the direction of a resource, or they may show them a practice and then expect them to get on with it, but to empower staff you must be willing to put in the hours to help them develop their skills.

  1. You don’t have clear communication protocols in place

Communication is vital to keeping your operation running smoothly.

You must constantly ensure that your team is aware of any changes and advances in the practice. Weekly meetings are advised to keep the team on the same page.

It’s important that every member of staff goes to work knowing what is expected of them and what is happening in the practice that day.

Implement a clear hierarchy and protocols with which all staff members are familiar, so issues are brought forward to the right people at the right time. Clear expectations are key to limiting personal issues between employees and minimizing operational mistakes.

An effective dental team is important for a prosperous practice. And if you are going through a dental practice transition, some buyers may want to keep the same staff, in which case their chemistry becomes a huge asset.


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Smart Advertising for Dental Practices

Advertising is essential in today’s highly competitive world and to get noticed, your advertising choices must be smart. What is smart advertising and just how can you apply it to your dental practice marketing? If you don’t know the answers to those questions yet, you better read on…

It All Starts with a Smart Plan

Advertising simply for the sake of it is a waste of your budget. Create a strategy and decide how much of an investment you can afford. Next, your job is to ensure that you get the maximum reach from your budget. Create a plan to span a 12-month period and fill each month with the activities that will get you to your goal.

Get a Smart Website

You may not be able to afford broadcast or billboard advertising just yet. Instead, the Internet offers a host of possibilities to the dental practice owner who is willing to use his or area of expertise constructively. Again, you may not be able to afford the super-charged website of your dreams just yet, but you can make it part of your plan and start small.

Get a website designed on a content management system (WordPress, Weebly, Wix, etc…) so you can update your own content. Make sure you have a Google Places listing so that patients who are in your area can find you easily.

Commit to a content strategy and learn how to post blog articles. Start writing unique content that speaks to your specialty.

Use Your Business Cards Smartly

Yes, you read that right. There’s a better way to hand out business cards, believe it or not. Before you hand your card over, take a black marker and write a personalized message on it to the recipient. When you hand the card over, be sure to use both hands. This gesture indicates that the card has value; it’s a type of non-verbal communication that your patient will interpret positively.

Manage Smart Social Pages

Sure, every dental practice in your area is probably on social media but you can take the “road less traveled” and apply a smart strategy to your social posting. Consider what your patients really need to be educated about the most, and then feed this information to them in a quirky way. Maybe your audience isn’t big on reading long articles, instead, create a few interesting infographics that are easy to digest. Patients aren’t getting the message about flossing every day? Find a joke or cartoon that illustrates the point in a fun way.

Track Your Results

If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t exist. Apply this idea to your strategy so that the next time that media sales agent tries to get you to book that last minute ad spot, you can find out how many people will be seeing your ad and decide if the return is worth the investment.


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Organizational Tips to Streamline Your Dental Office

Want to run your dental practice professionally? Do you want an edge over your competitors? In years gone by, dentists were virtually guaranteed a steady stream of patients coming through their doors. But thanks to the digitization of the marketplace, the dentists who market and operate themselves professionally can very well take all the patients if they want to. Why’s that? Well, they adopt these hacks to streamline their practice management.

Run Your Dental Practice Like a Business

Maybe it sounds obvious, but many dental practice owners run their practices like a service, not a business. And that’s hardly surprising because most dentists go into practice to help people, not make money. Frame your dental practice as a business to help increase your profits.

Invest in Practice Management Software

Technology can work wonders for your practice; in fact, it can become your star employee if it is implemented effectively. Your practice management software needs to integrate with all the other technologies you employ in your office.

Make sure you automate your marketing and billing procedures. When you get very busy, you might forget to send invoices or launch that email marketing campaign. By automating the process, you can ensure that nothing important is forgotten. Remember that your practice needs new patients in order to survive. If your marketing falls flat at any point, it can affect your ability to draw new patients in.

Manage Your Exam Rooms

Clear the clutter out of your exam rooms. Keep pathways clear and easily accessible, and make sure your tools are close-by and easy to access. If you do need more storage, use portable containers that can be moved in and out of the rooms.

Manage Your Cash Flow and Budget

Yes, while it’s important to keep a close eye on your billing, this isn’t the only aspect of cash flow management. Are you using the most cost-effective suppliers? Could you acquire better equipment that minimizes your running costs? Can you manage your inventory more effectively and reduce losses? Remember to frame your dental practice as a business and run it as such.

Monitor Your Inventory Closely

A good inventory management system ensures that you always have stock of the essentials, but it also reduces waste by eliminating non-essential items.

Set up an inventory management process so that your office supplies are kept in an area that is separate from where you keep your medical supplies. Put one staff member in charge of managing the inventory. This creates accountability when one person is responsible for the task.


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5 Tips to Make Your Instagram Dental Page Stand Out

Instagram is a great way to market your dental practice because it offers a different engagement than Twitter or Facebook. Why is that? Well, you don’t have to believe the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, you only need to spend a few minutes on Instagram to discover that pictures captivate emotion and draw viewers in. Read on to find out just how you can capture this market through your practice’s Instagram page.

Remember: We Live in The Age of the Selfie

User-generated content works wonders for an Instagram page. And when you allow users to take center stage on your Instagram page, you can almost guarantee that they’ll bask very publicly in that limelight. Use your Instagram page to showcase real people experiencing your brand.

How to Apply it to Your Dental Practice

Think before and after shots and case studies, and let your users do the talking (and showing) for you. One of the major advantages of this is its authenticity. Patients don’t want to see fake models with Hollywood white smiles. They’d rather get a glimpse of real, authentic experiences from real, authentic patients who’ve undergone procedures at your practice.

Let Your Frontline People Get Involved

Encourage the people who deal with your patients on a day to day basis to participate and share. They have a deep understanding of your target audience and what motivates it.

How To Apply It To Your Dental Practice

Your receptionist and dental nurse know your patients really well, too. Let them manage the page; they can deal with patients on a first-name familiarity.

Give Your Posts a Hashtag

Hashtags are the life force of social media, and they can bring your dental practice to life on the social wires. Through hashtag use, you can monitor brand mentions and reach out to users in specific communities. Research popular hashtags and apply them to your brand. Not sure? Use Webstagram to find out what’s trending on Instagram.

How to Apply it to Your Dental Practice

Are online users dissatisfied with the level of care they’re receiving from other providers? Do you want to capitalize on a new service? Or draw awareness to dentistry or a common patient medical complaint? Hashtag it.

Create A Visual Identity Online

Instagram is one platform you can use to show off your visual identity in the most creative ways. Brand your page with your logo and create posts that adhere to your brand identity. Consider creating a graphic template in line with your brand or watermark your images so they’re easily identifiable.

How to Apply it to Your Dental Practice

Show your patients the dream team that will take care of their dental needs: post pictures of your frontline staff. Post images of patients who are satisfied with the treatment they’ve received from you.

Demonstrate Your Strengths

Is your practice accomplished at cosmetic dentistry or restorative dentistry? Do you target adults or families? Know your audience well and what motivates it. Use your Instagram page to focus on your biggest selling points.

How to Apply it to Your Dental Practice

Show before and after pictures of your patients (with their permission, of course) on your Instagram page, focusing on the primary service areas you want to promote.


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How to Lose a Patient in 3 Steps

It’s a big, wide world out there, and patients have a lot of choices when it comes to dental practitioners. Patients should be valued and retained; they are, after all, the core of your dental practice. No one wants to lose patients, but you may be surprised at the little things that dental practitioners do that cause their patients to lose patience and leave them.

Even though population numbers are up and the number of qualifying dentists is in decline, it is not wise to take your patient base for granted. And if you’ve found your retention rates are dropping, you may need to give some thought to what you could be doing wrong.

Here are our top three tips to retain your patients.

Don’t Be Unapproachable and Unaccommodating

 First impressions count for a lot, but subsequent impressions are important as well. Your manner as a professional (and a human being) has a direct bearing on your likability. It doesn’t matter how qualified or experienced you might be, if your manner is not likable you can say goodbye to that patient.

Be attentive. Engage in light, casual conversation so your patient feels at ease, and realizes you value their business. Make notes about your conversation so that the next time the patient visits, you can follow up or carry on previous discussions.

Don’t Create a Cold Ambiance in Your Reception Area

Make sure your practice is welcoming and comfortable.

Consider offering arrivals a beverage and direct them to some reading material. Think about playing ambient music to relax them while they wait.

Brief your staff on how to make patients feel welcome in person and over the telephone. This is especially important for the first visit because it creates that vital first impression which, if negatively construed, becomes very difficult to overcome afterward.

Train your staff on how to handle email inquiries professionally and tactfully. If a patient’s first query is about cost, train your staff to encourage the patient to come in for the assessment first, and show him or her that managing the treatment process is important to you.

Don’t Make the Follow Up Consultations the Patient’s Responsibility

Remind your patients about their next appointment. Send text messages or emails to keep in contact. Six months between check-ups is a long time, and long enough for a patient to meet another practitioner.

Introduce referral practitioners and manage the process on the patient’s behalf. Take ownership of your patient, particularly if you need to involve a prosthodontist, dental surgeon, or specialist. Assist with making appointments and explain the technicalities to your patient in layman’s terms. He or she is not a dental expert and may feel overwhelmed without your guidance. This is important because the patient will put his or her trust in you and realize you are looking after his or her best interests.


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Five Tips for a Comfortable Waiting Room

When your patients walk into your practice, what’s the first thing they see besides the reception desk? That’s right, they see the waiting room—a place where they’ll be spending time while waiting for the assistant to call their name.

Waiting rooms are notorious for being uncomfortable, ugly, unwelcoming, or just plain depressing. There are some patients who don’t return to a dental office because the waiting room was uninviting.

If you want to run a successful practice, consider making your waiting room as comfortable and welcoming as possible. Here are a few ways you can do that.

Décor

While fake flora and fauna can save you thousands of dollars per year in costs, fresh flowers and potted indoor plants won’t just provide a calming, welcoming atmosphere, it will also exude a fresh, clean scent that can help eradicate the smells of cleaning supplies.

Include a few well-placed paintings or photographs to add visual appeal to an otherwise sterile environment.

Furniture

It cannot be overstated that comfortable chairs in waiting rooms are absolutely critical to the comfort of your patients. If you wouldn’t sit in the seat in your waiting room for 10 minutes, your patients shouldn’t have to either.

Music

There are many radio stations to choose from, but consider a station or playlist with calming instrumental music. Choose music or an album of nature sounds that can reduce patient nerves and has the potential to relax those who are waiting for their appointment.

Lighting

Recessed lighting is a better bet than lamps because the light comes from above, which makes it easier to for your waiting patients to read or use their mobile devices without much difficulty. Also, consider using LED lighting, which can be dimmed, doesn’t flicker, and can be narrowed or directed at specific areas (like rows of seats). LED lights are environmentally friendly, and can save you thousands of dollars on your lighting costs over their 30-year lifespan.

Reading Materials

What would a waiting room be without the stacks of magazines on the table beside the seats? While many people spend their wait times using their smartphones and reading on their e-readers, there are some who like the feel of paper pages in their hands—these people deserve something other than two-month-old American Dental Association magazines. It may cost you $10 a month, but consider having one of your staff stop by the grocery store once a month for a stack of printed magazines.

A successful dental practice involves more than just a great staff and exceptional service, it also includes a comfortable waiting room with a few little perks that cater to the happiness of its occupants.


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Facebook Dos and Don’ts

Facebook is a highly effective channel for your dental practice marketing, allowing you to create custom audiences and market multi-media to those audiences. The scheduling functionality ensures that even if you don’t have a marketing or social manager, you can communicate consistently with your target audience. To help you maximize your presence and make your practice as “likeable” as possible we’ve put together an essential list of dos and don’ts…

Do Remember That Humility Has Its Place

While you should use Facebook to let your audience know what you’re best at, it’s also a good idea to do so humbly. How do you do that? Well, rather than singing your own praises, allow others to do it for you. Encourage your patients to share their experiences, in their own words, and then share them on your page.

Do Show the Lighter Side of Your Practice

Your qualifications and accolades play an important role in demonstrating your professionalism, but sometimes it’s a good idea to show the fun things that go on behind the scenes. Take photos of a staff baby shower or document your year-end party. Patients appreciate your professionalism but they want to know you’re human too.

Do Experiment with Facebook Advertising

Remember that users are inundated with posts and pictures whenever they scroll through their feeds. If you want your content to be seen and responded to, it’s worthwhile trying out boosted posts.

At some point you will also want to grow your audience as well. Facebook advertising allows you to hone in on potential patients within a close radius and target those who’re geographically close to you.

Do Ask for Opinions

A portion of your content should be self-promotional but it should still listen to the views of your audience. Ask for their opinions; specifically ask the question “would you”? Statistics show that a question has a greater chance of being answered if it is placed at the end of the post, rather than at the beginning.

Don’t Forget to Check Your Page

Scheduling posts and running ad campaigns are convenient and automated, so much so that you may forget to log on. This is important because you want to reply to messages and comments as quickly as possible. Remember that Facebook will reward you with a prompt response badge if you can reply to 90% of your messages in less than 15 minutes.

Don’t Only Stick to Business Hours

Yes, it is true that lots of users spend hours on Facebook in the office, but there’s also a fair amount of activity going on after hours too. Experiment with posts after hours or first thing in the morning; you may very well tap into new markets.

Don’t Share Content Without Checking It Out First

Headlines may grab your attention and overwhelm you with the impulse to share a piece of content but don’t do so until you have read it in its entirety. Make sure it’s something your dental practice wants to be associated with and that it will only receive positive feedback.


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Dos and Don’ts of a Successful Dental Practice

With more than 210,000 active dentists in the US in 2016, the need to make your mark within the industry has risen tremendously. How can you distinguish yourself from all the other dentists? How can you make your practice stand out among the five or more dental practices within the 10 square blocks of your practice?

Creating and maintaining a successful dental practice is a mix of many different factors, but for the sake of time, we will offer you the following dos and don’ts for creating a successful dental practice.

Don’t Overbook

This don’t is simple: do not cram too many appointments together on your schedule. Too many appointments mean a greater potential for delays and rescheduling. When surveying dental patients, one of the biggest complaints noted was that of long wait times. When a patient arrives on time for an appointment, they expect that because they respected you by not arriving late, they should be respected in return. If you fail to provide on-time service to your patients, they will most likely call one of the other practices in the area for their next appointment.

Don’t “Talk At” Your Patients

There’s a reason your patients come to you: you’re a professional, you’ve attended dental school, you’ve earned your degree, they trust that the procedures you perform are done with the utmost professionalism and skill. That said, when speaking with your patients about their oral health or the procedures you’re recommending, please remember that they didn’t attend dental school, they probably don’t know the terminology, and are probably overwhelmed by long, complicated terms.

Rather than speaking “at” patients, or even “dumbing down” your language, consider speaking to them in layman’s terms in a professional but friendly tone.

Do Ask the Right Questions

When speaking to your patients, make sure that you are “hearing” them; that you’re listening to their complaints, and that you’re asking the right questions. Ask them detailed questions about their pain, what they’ve experienced, and how they’d like you to proceed. Make them feel as though you’re actually seeing them as a person and not just a medical record number.

Do Be a Welcoming Practice

When patients arrive at your practice, do they feel welcomed by the staff or the atmosphere of the actual clinic? If your patients like how they feel when they’re in your clinic, the probability of their returning is high.

  • The Office

You can make your dental office more welcoming by choosing neutral or calming colors throughout—not just paint, but also staff uniforms (scrubs), artwork, and furniture. Comfortable furniture provides a place to sit during their wait that helps them feel at ease. A welcoming dental office also smells pleasant rather than clinical; include fresh scents rather than those from cleaning products. Your choice of music can also be a welcoming touch. Choose quiet, calming instrumental music rather than upbeat or harsh beat songs with lyrics.

  • The Staff

A welcoming front office and dental staff will offer a genuine smile, speak with a friendly tone, and answer any patient questions with professionalism and patience.

When your dental practice is a welcoming, professional, on-time, and friendly place for patients, they’ll return, which makes your practice a success.


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Creative Marketing Tips for Your Dental Practice

The current climate is ideal for marketing a dental practice because there are so many avenues available, so many insights, and so many people to reach with your message.

Let’s take a look at how a little creativity can help you reach more patients.

Start Local

Concentrate all your marketing efforts on your locale initially, by reaching out to potential patients in your immediate area. Make sure you have a presence in your community newspapers and magazines. Sponsor and give talks to schools in your area. Optimize your online marketing efforts with a Google Places listing.

Even though it is considered a more traditional form of marketing, some dentists have had great success with direct mail. Have leaflets or brochures printed or deliver your business cards to the neighborhoods around you to stay top of mind.

Harness The Power of Video

Use existing patients to help get your story out there. Ask willing patients questions about why they choose you for their dental care, and what they think you do differently. Record them and have your clips edited to look more professional. You can use your testimonials on your website, on your social channels and, of course, upload them to your YouTube channel.

Consider taking a video of yourself. You can talk about common oral health issues or present a lecture to your target audience regarding what matters most in their age group.

Get Friendlier with Google

As a subject matter expert, you probably have a lot of unique content that search engines would just love to share with their inquisitive customers. Consider putting it to good use with regular blogging that offers readers something deeper and more meaningful than 90% of the other websites out there.

Create a listing on Google My Business and actively ask your patients to start leaving Google Reviews for you.

Use Technology Hacks for Automation

Today, there is plenty of user-friendly technology available that can make running your dental practice much easier. Automate your patients’ recall appointments via email marketing or text messaging. This works because you will see a noticeable reduction in missed appointments when you remind patients when next they are due for a check up.

Consider inviting prospective patients in for a second opinion. They may have had an assessment for implants or restoration, but perhaps you can offer an alternative approach. Use Google Analytics to identify your most popular website pages and create a pop up or sign up form. Link this to an email marketing or marketing automation program, and send users an introductory email when they join. Again, consider offering free content, tips, or advice so you can establish your dental practice as an industry leader, and build patient loyalty.

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