Are you a GDP offering short-term orthodontics and wish to increase your patient uptake? Amy Rose-Jones says ‘internal’ marketing may just be the answer

If you’re looking to treat even more patients to the beautiful benefits of short term orthodontics, there are plenty of ways you can tempt them into letting you set things straight. These orthodontic wonders are ideal for those who are a little longer in the tooth and not so keen on sporting brazen braces. So, by telling more grown-up types how and why a simple toothy tidy up can transform their smile, you can pique the interest of plenty more potential patients.

Think of this type of tooth straightening as similar to tooth whitening – an aspirational beautification that can be sold as a life enhancing solution to wayward teeth. But you do need to let people know you offer this solution and that you can make a real difference by sorting what may be only mildly misaligned teeth. You can do this by targeting your existing patients, as well as reaching beyond the practice to even more people with irregular grins.

Inside job

Before you go completely marketing mad, make sure your existing patients are aware that you offer this smart straightening service. This ‘internal’ marketing will hit those already on your list who just need (along with their teeth!) a little nudge in the right direction. But don’t complicate matters, this is less about fiddly marketing strategies and more about perfecting your team’s interpersonal skills. Chat to your patients and let them know exactly what pleasingly speedy orthodontic options you have on your makeover menu.

You can also send out monthly e-newsletters to everyone on your mailing list – these updates can include all manner of social stuff but also highlight treatments (such as invisible aligners) so patients know what’s available or are simply reminded about what dental magic you can perform. Squeeze in a few case studies so patients will think ‘that’s just like me!’ and include some ‘before and after’ photos to showcase your straightening skills. Finish off with a sprinkling of testimonials for extra endorsement.

Digital newsletters can be complemented with ‘hard copy’ editions for people to peruse while they wait, or to take away and leave lying around so others can spot all those tempting treatments. Use your waiting room to display promotional material to a captive audience, such as a classy photo album featuring uneven ‘befores’ and stunning ‘afters’, and glossy literature and posters detailing transformative treatments.

You can also post photos of dental transformations on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and include news about special offers, such as free consultations and tempting discounts. Or make treatments even more appealing by emphasising their affordability – say that the dream of straighter teeth can become a reality for only x pence a day or explain that you offer convenient payment plans so the cost can be split into manageable chunks.

Ask the owners of wonky teeth you have already successfully straightened to tell their friends – remember each patient is linked to all kinds of other people, so you could have crowds of kith and kin knocking at your practice doors, eager to have their teeth tidied up.  Word of mouth is a simple, highly effective and FREE way to get your message out there – a little positive blabbing can really help to boost your patient numbers.

Think outside the practice

When you’ve let all your loyal patients know you offer ‘barely there’ aligners and bashful braces, you can start to focus on spreading the short term ortho word a little wider. Though this ‘external’ marketing, via print and digital advertising, can be pretty pricey – it can also achieve impressive results – so set a budget, formulate a plan and try a few of these tricks.

As well as being perfect for keeping current patients in the loop, social media is a top tool for wider reaching communication, offering all sorts of ways to network beyond the confines of your practice. You can also pay for extra advertising on platforms such as Facebook, so your practice comes to the attention of people who may be suitable candidates for your treatments.

A well-designed website is also a smart way to advertise your orthodontic wares, but make sure it is suitably optimised so it gets seen. This means making the site more attractive to search engines so it sits higher up on the list of results displayed when someone types in a specific search term such as ‘invisible braces’. It helps to have fresh, relevant content (words, pictures and videos) on your site and to make sure it is easy to use. A frequently updated and informative blog will boost your ranking, as well as letting people know what you offer.

You may also want to consider ‘pay per click’ advertising, a digital service used to direct traffic to your website. But, the clue’s in the name, there is a cost attached. Each time someone clicks on an advert, you will pay for the privilege of having them taken straight to your site, but it can prove an effective way to pull in the right people – try focusing on adult friendly straightening and guide crooked toothed customers to your website.

There are a number of other, more economical, ways you can give it to your audience straight such as submitting articles (perhaps write one detailing how adults can benefit from discreet straightening techniques) to magazines or local publications – this will get your name out there and show you know your trade.

Good old fashioned print also has its uses – you could pop a well-crafted ad into local magazines and newspapers to spread the straightening word or even use well targeted direct mail. Remember some of your older patients may not be au fait with all those online shenanigans.

So if you want to straighten out more teeth, more quickly, use a blend of ‘internal’ and ‘external’ marketing to promote fast acting appliances to your loyal patients and to a fresh bunch of potential brace wearers too!

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