PennWell Dental Community
I often get questions asking how a practice can target “high-end” patients from a more affluent part of town or adjacent city. While I understand why that would be an attractive prospect for a dental office, it’s ultimately the wrong marketing approach for a couple of different reasons. The first is that so-called upper class patients almost certainly have a dentist already. The other reason, which is actually the more important of the two, is that with few exceptions, most patients aren’t willing to travel more than a mile or two from work or home to visit a dentist. That means focusing your marketing on an area outside your neighborhood really doesn’t make a lot of sense and will likely not yield much of a return.
Hearing this may suggest that a prospective dental patient’s unwillingness to drive is a real marketing obstacle, but it’s actually an opportunity. It means your practice probably doesn’t have much genuine competition because you’re really only competing with practices within a few miles of you. However, to capitalize on this, you need to realize the importance of targeting your own market.
It doesn’t matter what kind of neighborhood your practice is in. You can be in a small suburban town or a fast-paced urban hub. Either way, your neighbors represent your greatest asset. Your direct mail advertising should highlight the benefits of your office, whatever it is that sets you apart, but it should also mention how close you are to home for these patients. Participate in local community events, sponsor local sports teams, visit local businesses and schools and give demonstrations about good oral health. Thank patients with tickets to local movie theaters or gift cards to local shops. Brand your practice as their community dentist, and make sure you treat all your patients as family. All this will go a long way, and the convenience of your office’s location will seal the deal.
As always, when thinking about the value of a patient, you always need to look at the patient’s lifetime value. It’s easy to get caught up in pursuing the quick money that cosmetic dentistry can sometimes provide, but most practices will never be able to build a sustainable business out of this, and more importantly, there’s never any need to. Not when you have thousands of patients living nearby, many of whom probably haven’t seen a dentist in years and need restorations. And you never know, one day those same patients may want veneers or Invisalign®, and if you’ve built a relationship with them by providing an unrivaled patient experience and quality dental care, you’re going to be the practice they choose.