Time to be a winner

shutterstock_152012018Some orthodontic practices are better at marketing than others, but, Malcolm Counihan asks, how hard is it to join the winners?

Orthodontics is a niche service. There just aren’t that many ‘proper’ orthodontists around and it’s worth remembering that is valuable and worth shouting about. Back when FooCo launched the idea was to produce videos for all websites, which is a bit like trying to eat everything on the menu. It wasn’t until someone said ‘pick a niche’ that the company took off.
A focused, targeted approach means you become an expert at fishing where the fish are; and the same principles apply to providers of orthodontics. If orthodontics was easy, every dentist would do it (some try!) but that’s what patients pay for – expertise. Our expertise is increasing new patient acquisition and here’s some tips to follow.

Short-term strategies don’t work

Lack of time is the great enemy for orthodontists so it’s easy to see why you’d want to take the quick and easy way out. A good example of a short-term strategy was Groupon. This service offered great deals to people in a particular area, and assured business owners that lowering their rates (quite drastically in some cases) would deliver steady business from all the new customers earned. The problem came when those one-time customers never visited participating businesses again, and all those lowered prices ended up crippling quite a few of those businesses (including dentists and orthodontists). In this instance, what seemed like a good short-term strategy ended up hurting rather than helping.
The orthodontists who are succeeding today are thinking more long term. They’re building their digital presences with attention and care, which leads to a stronger foundation to be built on. The old adage ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ fits well here. Don’t think you have to do it all in one go. Just doing a little bit each day is enough, and will likely lead to longer-lasting and more substantial results.

Don’t just concentrate on new patients

Many orthodontists find themselves focusing on new patients only, ‘I need 30 patients a month.’ Just focusing on outside marketing and increasing referrals can lead to you taking your eye off the open goal that is your existing patient base. It’s estimated it costs six to seven times as much to acquire new patients than it does to retain the ones you’ve got. In this case it is less about retaining patients and more about targeting friends and family of current patients. Incentivised marketing works really well in this instance.

Efficient office procedures

There are two parts to this point. The first refers to digital marketing, which takes time to cultivate and maintain. Successful orthodontists are using short, daily processes to create and maintain their marketing campaigns. If you want to be successful, these very processes should be part of your staff’s regular day.
The second part to this refers to patient acquisition and retention. Your staff should be sending thank you cards, making reminder calls and they should be nurturing callers or walk ins who weren’t ready to commit when they first made contact.
The orthodontists we see who are doing well today have trained their staff members to take initiative and to follow certain protocols daily. These responsibilities are then reinforced and rewarded (when the job is well done) during daily or weekly meetings. Make sure your staff understands that a whole team is needed to succeed in orthodontic marketing. Get the team involved all the way around and you’ll have much better results.

Be mobile compatible

This is a major trend that’s sweeping digital marketing across all industries. More people today are using mobile devices than they are computers and laptops. In fact, there are 1.095 billion mobile subscribers worldwide, and mobile outranks all other computers (desktops and laptops) by 3:1. What does this mean? It means that much of your website visitors are likely going to be viewing your content with their iPhones, iPads and other smart devices. If you don’t have your website, blog and other content you control optimised for mobile, you risk losing the attention of most of your web visitors.
To optimise for mobile, you should have a responsive design that uses cookies to determine what type of device the user is employing, and provides the proper user interface as a result. A person viewing on an iPhone will get an tailored experience, for example. Test your digital presence on various mobile devices to ensure that all users, regardless of device, receive the best experience possible.

Modernise your website

Just having a mobile experience isn’t enough for today’s online users. They expect HD images and videos, high-quality content that informs, educates and entertains, and most of all they want to know that you’re the authority in your field. Having a website that looks 10 years old, employing a mere ‘online brochure’ or not having a website at all is going to leave you behind.
Orthodontists who are doing well have ultra-modern websites that employ many of the traits above. They have visual appeal, they contain crisp images of people. Analytics show that it’s the people associated with your business that really interests them, you, your staff and your patients.
The websites pushing the latest dental trends of 2015 also load quickly. The HTTP2 protocol is about to launch and is the biggest change in internet delivery for 16 years. Sites will start to load far more quickly than before but if your website isn’t set up correctly and securely you’ll be falling behind other websites that have been developed along the correct guidelines.

Give online visitors all the information they need

The question we get is, ‘What do I put on my website?’ The answer is give your online visitors all the infoation they could ever want. Succeed in doing that and they’ll never look anywhere else.
Visit the websites of other orthodontists and healthcare professionals and see what they have on their websites and put it in your own words. FAQ pages are a great way to increase useful content on your website and these pages tend to generate high traffic and perform well on search engines. Remember to always personalise your content and if you’re struggling for time, FooCo has some excellent copywriters you can use.

Don’t rule out PPC

Paid online marketing,  PPC (pay per click) through Google Adwords may not be required for practices located where the competition is sparse, but it works if your current website is struggling to be found on Google or you’d like to expand your catchment online area.
A successful PPC campaign needs careful planning and the correct keyword research is vital. Once you’ve set a monthly budget and written a series of creative ads then you should see immediate results. For a more sophisticated approach you can create artwork for the Google display network and have your ads appear on specific websites your target audience is likely to visit. However, there’s no point in driving more traffic to your website if it’s not designed well and set up with the right calls to action.

Attach a blog to your website

We mentioned scheduling marketing activity as part of your and your staffs’ day and/or week and blog writing and posting should fall under this category. If your staff are too busy or you don’t have any writers on board, consider hiring a freelance writer to craft the new blogs for you.
The best blogs educate, inform and entertain. They contain case-studies, reviews and testimonials from real-life patients, and they keep people up-to-date on procedures, the latest industry news and the goings on within the practice. A blog helps to establish your personality and authority within your field but it also sends a message to Google that there’s new content to be found on your website. This will result in better search rankings for your website.

Get help

Many orthodontists know they just don’t have time to devise, implement and deliver an effective and successful marketing plan. That’s why companies such as FooCo exist. That’s our niche.
The right expertise will help your practice succeed from behind the scenes, allowing you to do what you do best; straighten teeth, create beautiful smiles and make life a bit better for your patients.


 

Remember, running a successful orthodontic practice is about doing what you do, well. Marketing success is down to communicating this to potential new patients, in the right way.  Contact FooCo for a free marketing appraisal and make sure 2015 is a bumper year – www.FooCo.co.uk

 

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