Every industry has undergone a dramatic shift to life online because of COVID-19, and dentistry is no exception. As things slowly return to normal, you may ask if it is worth investing in digital marketing for dentists? Over 60% of users’ seek information online when seeking medical treatment, and if you don’t have a strategy in place to capitalise on this, you’re missing out on potential placements.
Digital Marketing is necessary for dentists, yet understanding where to start is intricate. Who should I target? What channels should I target? What type of message do I want to send to potential patients? As you’re reading this article, you’ve taken the first step to growing your practice and becoming an online patient lead magnet!
In this post, we’ll cover everything you’d need to know about getting started with Digital Marketing, looking specifically at brand strategy, target audiences and universal channels for dentists. If you’re pressed for time, skip to the relevant section below:
- How to define your brand positioning?
- The problem with not understanding your brand positioning
- How to define your target audience?
- Questions to ask after defining your target audience?
- Marketing channels to reach your target audience?
Defining your dental practice's brand positioning
Understanding your brand positioning in any industry is one of the most crucial first steps. Your brand positioning is defined as the place you want to occupy in the minds of your target audience. In practice, how are you perceived in the dental industry?
Do your patients see you as a general dentist, pedodontist, pediatric dentist, orthodontist, periodontist, endodontist, oral pathologist, oral surgeon or prosthodontist. If you fall into more than one category, choose your main category with a maximum of 2-3 subcategories. It’s better to be specific as opposed to too broad. Marketing is often about finding your niche, and identifying your brand positioning is no different.
Once you have an understanding of the category you fall into, you should start to analyse your services; examples of this could include:
- A complete examination of the patient
- X-rays and dental cleanings
- Helping patients with fillings, root canals, and extractions
- Cosmetic dentistry which can include porcelain or composite veneers and teeth whitening
- Full and partial dentures
- Implants for teeth, such as placement and restoration
- Oral appliances and guidance for control of sleep apnea
- Preventative care, providing consultation for periodontal therapy
- Emergency dentist
- And many more
Once you have a comprehensive list of your services and the category you fall under, it’s time to start drawing. You’ll want to draw a graph that looks similar to the below image. Start by plotting where you believe your practice falls, considering these categories; expensive, cheap, quality and compromised quality. Remember, be honest with yourself and if you’re unsure, ask for the opinions of friends, workers, colleagues or patients.
Brand positioning for dentists
Once you’ve plotted where your brand falls, you’ll understand your brand positioning. You’ll also have a clearer picture of how your practice is perceived. This kind of clarity will mean that your marketing communications align with your brand and work to reinforce your brand in the patient’s mind instead of confusing.
The problem with not understanding your brand positioning
If you do not clearly understand where your brand is positioned, it will lead to inconsistent messaging at best and losing patients at worst. This is best explained through an example.
You’re an upmarket dentistry practice operating out of Cape Town. You’ve recently engaged in a Google Ads campaign, and you’re selecting your keywords (the targeted search queries a patient will type into Google) you decide to bid on “Cheap dentist near me”. You end up showing up for this search, and you receive an enquiry. This results in some back and forth, with the person not choosing to go ahead as you’re too expensive. If you know your brand positioning beforehand, you’d know that this keyword isn’t your target market and would ultimately save yourself time and money (Google Ads works on a pay per click model).
Your brand positioning is closely tied to your target market, as brand positioning deals with making your brand memorable for your target market. Thus the next step is to define your target market or audience.
How to define your target audience as a dentist
Defining your target audience is all about matching up your services with the needs of your patients. A target audience simply defined is a specific group of people who are most likely to respond positively to your dentistry service and brand. A target audience is the 2nd step in getting started with digital marketing for dentists. It will influence your messaging and how you choose to communicate through your online marketing channels. Remember to use both qualitative and quantitative research to create your target audience.
Here is a list of common characteristics you’ll want to define (and remember you might have a different target audience for each of your services, that’s ok!)
An example of your target audience could be; Jenny, 46, Cape Town, female, earning R60000 per month and working as a general manager. An easy tip for dentists is to use your patient records to formulate these.
Once you have the basics, you should flesh out the person with more nuanced characteristics that your brand and content will focus on. These can be:
Let’s add to Jenny based on these nuanced characteristics. Jenny, 46, Cape Town, female, earning R60000 per month and works as a general manager. Jenny is outgoing and confident and believes that teeth are essential as a service, but she doesn’t believe in paying above medical aid rates for dentistry. Jenny will research which dentist is best for her family and herself through Google by searching for dentistry tips. A simple solution for qualitative research is to make notes after each patient consultation about their personalities, attitudes and hobbies.
We’ll now explain why creating a ‘Jenny’ is important. Based on Jenny’s profile, you’ll know that you should probably only target her if you are reasonably priced with acceptable quality. As an owner of a practice, you’ll also know that as Jenny enjoys searching for dentistry tips and thus your content should focus on this to acquire Jenny as a patient. If you were to run Ads, Google Ads would be a good solution. As you can appear on the Search Engines Results page when Jenny searches for Dentistry tips and if Jenny were to always search for “dentist near me” focusing on local SEO for dentists, would be a good strategy. As you can see, understanding your target audience is crucial as it influences the marketing channels. It would probably not be a good idea to focus on the channel TikTok, as Jenny isn’t on TikTok and doesn’t actively consume content on TikTok.
Questions to ask after defining your target audience
Defining your brand positioning and target audience are the first steps, but how do you make sure they’re correct for your dental practice?
- Are there enough people that fit into my defined target audience? Use sites like https://www.statista.com/ and http://www.statssa.gov.za/ to get a rough idea. It would be difficult to validate every characteristic, but you can get a rough idea if enough females earn a suitable income between a certain age.
- Will my target audience benefit from my products or services? I’d suggest writing down a few ways in which your target audience might benefit, as these can also be used as content ideas at a later stage, saving you time and effort.
- Do I understand what drives my target audience to make certain decisions? Are they driven by cost, quality or perhaps a practice’s level of care?
- Can this target audience afford my product or service? What would their income need to be to afford my product?
- Can I reach them with my selected online marketing channels?
Getting started with Digital Marketing for dentists should always first focus on your target market and brand positioning. As the brand positioning will influence the type of content or advertising message you seek to relay. While your target audience will underpin the targeting, you use for Ads and then secondly the type of content you’ll produce.
After defining your brand positioning and the target audience, you’re ready to decide on the channels you’ll actively seek to use. The channels should match your selected target audience, while the messaging you use should relate to your brand positioning to avoid confusion. We’re a big fan of Paid Media, Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to help dentists target their respective audiences, and we’ll cover these topics in upcoming blogs. Contact us if you’re interested in a quick call to discuss how we can help your practice grow and boost your leads.