Yes! Social media is a great marketing tool. It is A form of marketing, but it is not THE only form of marketing. I’m a big fan of the role social media can play in your overall marketing strategy. But since the perception is that it is a “free” form of marketing and the latest big shift in marketing, it seems that most articles out in dentistry are about social media. So that got me to thinking…what are the other forms of marketing that are still effective and relevant today.
Websites are still necessary. There is a lot of talk that websites are no longer needed in marketing now that there is social media. Websites and social media serve two completely different purposes. They may both appear online, but the intent of their existence is different. Websites are a formal communication where the business tells the consumers what they want the consumer to know about the business. It is one-sided communication. It can be optimized and found on searches. People go there with the intent of learning more about the practice and ultimately deciding if this is the right place for their dental care. Patients will also go there to obtain contact information, directions, resources, etc. On the flip side, with social media, patients go there to engage in a conversation with the business and to potentially gather recent news, events, and even opinions on the latest buzz in dentistry.
2. Asking for referrals
Your best patients come from patient referrals. And 70% of your patients should come from existing patients. The best way to encourage your patients to refer is by simply asking them to send friends and family. Social media helps to play a role in this because it allows you to stay engaged with your existing patients and keep your name in front of them. However, being on social media alone will not replace the time tested method of asking.
3. Internal marketing
Keep promoting your services within. Patients need to feel, hear, see and experience a message five to seven times before acting on it. Social media is only one of those five to seven times. Whatever you are promoting: whitening, same day crowns with CEREC, implants, etc., market it fully! Use emails, enewsletters, your website, hygiene inserts, signage, and your team to share the message. You want to share the message multiple times in different venues so everyone hears it loud and clear.
4. External marketing
Yes, 70% of your patients should come from existing patients. But what about the other 30%. How do you obtain those patients? If you are counting on social media alone to make that happen, then you may never realize it. While social media plays a role in external marketing, there are still multiple other venues that help to spread your message. Everything from direct mail, radio and print advertisements to expos, networking (in person), and building professional referral relationships. Based on your budget, audience and expectations, this combination can vary. Whatever you do, remember repetition is the key. Focus on what you have to invest and how you can get your message repeatedly in front of your key audience.
5. Customer service
The best marketing of all is excellent customer service. The only thing people like to talk about more than a bad experience in a dental office is an amazing experience! Exceeding your patient’s expectations through excellent patient care, clear communication, and a comfortable experience goes a long ways to having patients shout your names from the rooftops. Oh, and of course their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Bottom line, use social media as one of your five to seven approaches in marketing. And don’t forget that there are other marketing methods that can and do still work in attracting new patients! Spread your message around and often!