Marketing a dental practice during turbulent times creates unique challenges. And when COVID-19 hit, many dental practices scrambled. The marketing campaigns that worked for so long stopped performing as well as they had been. Practice bills piled up as revenue plummeted. Patient priorities and buying behavior shifted, too. That left many practices scrambling, and rightfully so.
We had the opportunity to help many practices adjust their marketing strategies during the pandemic. In doing so, we learned three valuable lessons about marketing for dental practices. These three lessons helped us navigate uncertain times for our clients. And they continue to help us get better results for our clients. Applying these to your practice can help you, too.
1. Be nimble.
In turbulent times, some practice leaders tend to view their options like a light switch. Their marketing is either on or off. When the pandemic hit, many practices temporarily stopped all marketing. While that’s a natural reaction, it’s a rigid approach to marketing, and patient leads stopped calling.
Other practices took a different, nimble approach. They shifted their mindset and recognized they were in a different environment. More nimble practices didn’t shut off their marketing. They shifted it to adjust to the new environment. How did it work out for them? Patient leads kept calling. And they used virtual consultations to start nurturing relationships with those leads. Now they’re much better off than practices who took a more rigid approach.
In turbulent times, nimbleness will almost always outperform rigidity with your marketing. You must be willing to shift your mindset. You must recognize the environment has changed. And you must be willing to redirect your marketing resources to be successful.
2. Be opportunistic.
With every obstacle comes many opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic was no different. For example, many practices, dental schools, and VA clinics closed. That meant many patients had no place to go for emergency care. That made emergency dental marketing campaigns extremely profitable for practices who could open for emergency care. Those campaigns helped fill their schedule with emergency care for patients of other practices, dental schools, and clinics.
Another opportunity that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic involved virtual consultations. Many practices began using virtual consultations to pre-screen patient leads. By doing so, they could avoid taking up valuable chair time for a patient who is unlikely to move forward with care. We helped many practices screen patients during the pandemic. With some, we helped them incorporate virtual consultations into their practice. With others, we conducted the screening for them using our virtual patient advocate program.
These two opportunities changed the trajectory of the practices that implemented them far beyond the pandemic. Many saw improved results with even lower marketing costs during the pandemic. And even after practices began opening back up, these opportunities continue to work well.
3. Be patient-focused.
If there’s one principle that underlies everything we do, it’s that the best marketing campaigns are patient-focused. Our ads are directed to people actively looking for the procedures we are promoting. Our campaign communications are designed to address common patient questions and concerns. And our calls to action are designed to move patients along the typical buying pattern for the procedure we are promoting.
During and after the COVID-19 pandemic, all consumer buying patterns shifted. At first, people became obsessed with safety. Almost nothing could get them out of their house and into a dental chair. Our marketing needed to be focused on safety and nurturing relationships during that time.
After some time, people became more comfortable leaving their homes but were much less loyal to the brands and businesses. They were willing to shift if they felt better cared for by another business. Our marketing continued to focus on safety during that time but we were better able to get patients in for emergency using virtual consultations.
As the pandemic continued, patients started to strongly prefer that practices adjust their operations to implement top safety and convenience measures. Our marketing adjusted during this time to better emphasize our clients’ commitment to the convenience and safety of virtual consultations.
Finally, as more patients experienced visiting practices with top safety and convenience measures, the strong preferences became non-negotiable expectations. Our marketing emphasized convenience, safety, and our clients’ commitment to being the best practice for the “new normal” during this time.
Are your marketing strategies nimble, opportunistic, and patient-focused?
If you struggle to get consistently positive results from your marketing campaigns, one of these important pieces might be missing. Are you being too rigid? Are you not looking for the opportunities before you? Or, maybe, your marketing isn’t focused on patient needs and buying patterns.
If you want to find out how other offices are getting in front of new patients within a matter of days in any environment plus how we can pre-qualify them for you so they are ready to say yes by the time they are in your chair, book a strategy call before we are full.