PennWell Dental Community
As the CEO of the nation’s largest dental referral service, I know how important new patients are, particularly when people seem to be tightening their budgets. However, it does occasionally feel as if those of us in the dental industry spend so much time discussing methods of bringing in new patients that we sometimes forget about the ones already in the practice.
Most practices understand the importance of internal marketing on some level and are already conducting some form of it. The problem is that many dentists don’t internally market to the extent that they should, or they don’t use their internal marketing to communicate the right message.
You see most of your patients twice a year, if even that. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be enough time to form a trusting relationship with many of them. Trust is the key to increasing your case acceptance, which is why cultivating it with internal marketing is so important when your patients are out of the office. Regular, consistent communication, through both traditional mail and e-mail, can help your patients learn more about you, your staff and your practice. I suggest sending out some sort of message to your patients, whether it’s a newsletter, recall card or e-note, every one or two months.
That’s really just the start, though. What your communications say is just as important as how frequently they go out. Most of your patients have no idea what you do all day, nor do they realize all the services your practice provides. Your internal marketing is your best tool for educating patients about your practice and dentistry in general. If you add a new associate to your practice, introduce him or her in your patient newsletter. Want to do more whitening? Then why not run a short article on your whitening options on the back of your next recall card? Internal marketing should do two things, and both are equally important. It should keep your practice at the forefront of your patients’ minds and it should help educate them about all the great services you have to offer.
Getting new patients in the office should always be a priority for practices looking to grow, but it’s equally important to nurture and educate the patients you already have. Remember, an educated patient is usually less fearful and feels more in control of his or her health care. At the same time, hearing from you regularly will ensure that when your patients are ready to take the next step in their dental care, your name is going to be the first that comes to mind.