Independent dentist offices in Central Florida have a lot of work ahead of them to stay independent.
Changes in the health insurance landscape mean more people have the opportunity to pursue dental care at a price they can afford. At the same time, however, large organizations are breaking into the industry. They buy up local, independent dentists to consolidate their power and influence.
This “economy of scale” approach makes sense for investors with millions of dollars, but its effect on the quality of care is often negative. And it means independent dentist offices, some of which have been around for generations, are under more pressure than ever before.
That doesn’t mean you can’t build a flourishing future for your independent practice.
But it does mean you may need to take a different approach and try new things.
Dentist offices that have relied on referrals in the past will need to add new marketing assets and pull in first-time patients. Those that are marketing, but not seeing the results they expect, will need a data-driven approach that produces results. And those without either must build a marketing strategy.
In any of these scenarios and many others, a Central Florida marketing agency is your best ally.
Turn Marketing from a Nagging “To-Do” List Item to a Lasting Business Advantage
You worked hard to get through dental school and then build your independent practice. If you’re like other hardworking Central Florida dentists out there, you’re focused on providing the best care to every patient who walks through the door. One thing you’re probably not specializing in is marketing.
It’s not just true of dentists – many Central Florida entrepreneurs start a business because they want to make a positive difference for people in an industry that matters to them. When they realize how much time goes into marketing, it feels like a distraction. The constant demand can wear you down.
Add to that the complexity and confusion of things like social media management and email marketing. It’s enough for many dentists to throw up their hands and say “I didn’t sign up for this.” Even passionate marketers like us understand the disconnect. We’re on your side.
But marketing doesn’t have to be the most boring thing on your priority list.
Done right, marketing can be one of the most important things your business does, right behind providing the care you’ve trained for all your life. Marketing is absolutely crucial to getting your message out to all those who can benefit. And it’s even more pressing now that your voice is being drowned out.
If marketing is one of those things you know you have to do, but there’s always something else on your priority list, we get it. And you might find you’re the perfect candidate to work with a marketing agency.
With an agency, you can start seeing progress on your marketing goals quickly. You don’t have to hire or train personnel. You can take a hands-off approach or collaborate closely to develop your strategy. Once your team understands your goals, the rest happens no matter if you’re working, awake, or asleep.
It takes about three months for a well-built digital marketing strategy to start bearing fruit. But each and every month from there, those results are compounded. Every blog post, video, and other content piece enhances your search engine optimization, making you more likely to appear in relevant search results.
By adding on techniques like email marketing, you can build a relationship throughout the weeks and months, even when your patients aren’t in the chair. Just as significant for your long-term plans, you’ll help inspire and motivate people to maintain regular dental care for years to come.
A marketing agency can firmly counteract the disadvantages and challenges many independent Florida dentists are facing today. And even if you’ve never considered working with one before, getting started is far easier than you think.
Let’s take a closer look at how an agency can make a winning difference for your practice:
1. A Marketing Agency Helps You Overcome the “Post-Pandemic Effect”
When the pandemic struck, dental care was one of the first things to fall by the wayside.
Lots of people in Florida and throughout the country simply couldn’t find room in their budget for dental cleaning. Facing reduced income for a whole number of reasons, they were forced to take their chances. Some, sadly, wound up dealing with dental emergencies that could have been prevented.
On the other hand, a substantial portion of prospective customers worried that going to a dentist could expose them to the disease. This perception was compounded by confusing and contradictory guidance. Some patients were turned off by offices with an “open air” layout and lax masking rules.
Whatever the case, the pandemic is still affecting the business landscape today.
But the underlying reasoning has changed.
In communities throughout the United States, the risk of contracting COVID has fallen appreciably. But a lifetime of good dental habits may be under threat. Americans who were long diligent about seeing their local dentist on a regular basis have now gone two years or more without.
In effect, they need a reset. The only way to do that is to get your message in front of them wherever they may be. You can connect with the majority of your potential patients through digital marketing, potentially backed by targeted mailers and a mix of other low-cost methods.
To undo the effects of the last two years, you may need two more years of intensive marketing. But you won’t have to wait long to see the results. When you remain “top of mind” through email marketing, social media, and the rest, patients are more likely to be proactive in visiting you.
That means better results for you and them, as they no longer wait until they have severe symptoms.
2. A Marketing Agency Puts Your Unique Difference Firmly in the Spotlight
“Bigger, cheaper, more” is the value proposition of large dental enterprises. But even though dentistry decisions are influenced by insurance concerns, nobody wants to feel like they’re just a number. They want a dentist who knows their name – one they can trust with their kids and older relatives.
Dentistry is a caring profession, and Central Floridians want to build a relationship with their dentist. In short, they want someone who actually cares. They’re much more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to an independent practice like yours than to a titanic enterprise that spans from coast to coast.
This might not be in the forefront of first-time patients’ minds when they’re looking for a “dentist near me.” But your marketing has the capacity to put the right ideas front and center. That reminds them to consider features other than price when they’re comparing one dentist to another.
Yes, it’s critical to make care available at a price your community can bear. But the cost is only the start – and if would-be patients only consider cost, you’re seen as a commodity. That means you’ll be stuck racing to the bottom, where larger practices have a natural advantage on price.
Conversely, marketing shines the spotlight on quality and the intangibles people seek when they select a dentist. They don’t want to bounce around from one to another; they want to make the right choice from the beginning. And that can only happen when they know, like, and trust their dentist.
Trust requires a human connection, and it’s not easy to forge before someone enters your office for the first time. But with options like video storytelling, your marketing can become the next best thing to being there. And you can establish your credentials as an expert advisor the community can count on.
3. A Marketing Agency Means Not Having to Hire to Get the Word Out
Most independent dental practices maintain a lean, high quality staff.
In plenty of cases, it’s just the dentist, a hygienist or two, and one person to act as the catch-all front office personnel. By keeping payroll to a minimum, the business is better able to weather changes in demand and times of tight cash flow. Other experts, like anesthesiologists, are outsourced.
Just as you don’t need an anesthesiologist to visit every day of the week, you probably won’t benefit much from hiring a marketing director for about $8,000 a month. For less than half that amount, you can harness the skills and enthusiasm of a complete marketing team.
While dentists start out trying to do marketing all their own, sometimes it’s just one “hat” too many. A marketing agency helps strategically multiply your impact by bringing the skills, training, and software to the table for you. You don’t need to spend a single cent to bring marketing staff up to speed.
Nor do you need to wait for results.
Even if you manage to hire a marketing lead, it typically takes about a year to see results from an in-house team. On the other hand, outsourced marketing integrates seamlessly into your workflow from the beginning. You can start moving in the right direction in as little as 30 days.
All in all, it takes about three months for an all-new marketing strategy to take root. Faster methods, like online advertising, carry their own extra costs and risks. But that three-month period lays groundwork to amplify your online visibility and turn more website visitors into patients.
Each month your marketing continues, you’ll see compounding results that set you apart from the other small practices in your service area. And, gradually, that sets you up to capture business from the “big guys” who can’t offer the personalized service and attention you do.
4. A Marketing Agency Helps You Compete Head-to-Head with Large Enterprises
You might worry that a large national brand can outcompete you no matter what.
The truth is a lot more nuanced – and it favors small businesses like you.
Marketing is a low-cost, long-term approach to building a bevy of repeat customers. It helps you appear in a greater number of relevant searches, then gives you the tools to deepen relationships. And there’s no way to make marketing effective but to put in the right work week after week, month after month.
Big companies may have a hefty advertising budget, and that can allow them to get some traffic. But as soon as they stop paying, that traffic dries up. On the other hand, marketing is the slow and steady way to influence customers without chaining yourself to ever-growing costs.
Every blog post, video, email, and social media update your marketing team produces has an effect that reverberates far into the future. The very first blog your company publishes could be the one that earns you a prominent spot in Google search rankings and wins a first-time customer ten years from now.
5. A Marketing Agency Strengthens Your Business Against Customer Loss
Marketing has lasting effects, but it isn’t a matter of “planting a tree now so others can sit under it.”
You will be sitting under it. Because a sound marketing strategy isn’t just about finding new customers. It’s also about energizing past patients, those who are already familiar with you and inclined to listen.
The average dentist works very hard only to find that 10%, 20%, or 30% of customers never come back. It’s not because you did anything wrong, or even that they stopped being concerned about their teeth.
In short, dental care often ends up near the bottom of the priority list when people are busy, stressed, or otherwise overwhelmed. With digital marketing in your corner, you can open up a conversation with patients as they show signs of losing enthusiasm – before they totally drop off your radar.
Email marketing is one of the most potent ways to do this. It costs only a few cents a month, works just as well with one person as one thousand, and can be automated so subscribers get the right information at the right moment. But texting is also becoming a vital tool in the Central Florida dentist’s toolkit.
Depending on the structure of your business and the people you serve, you might lack opportunities to raise more revenue from the average visit. But by using marketing to reach out to customers before you lose track of them, you can elevate the lifetime value of every connection.
That means more consistency and better overall health outcomes for everyone you serve. It also means you have a longer “runway” and can afford to give your other marketing efforts the space they need to bloom. It is worth the time.
To Flourish in 2022 and Beyond, the Key Is More Marketing, Not Less
When times are tough and the chips are down, all too many businesses put marketing on the chopping block. There’s a certain logic to that since you don’t need marketing to make payroll or keep the lights on. In the long run, though, backing away from marketing means mortgaging your practice’s future.
If the economy is down, consistent marketing lays the foundation for more profits during the rebound. And if the issue is with your own cash flow or expenses, marketing gives you the opportunity to acquire more business. Without it, your company faces the possibility of withering on the vine.
But no matter where you are right now, it’s not too late to leverage marketing.
If you’re eager to chart a course that maintains your independence in the coming years, marketing is the best way to do it. Marketing helps introduce you to your future customers and establish you as a trusted advisor before they ever meet you in person – and that’s how to meet the challenge of big competitors.
Your local patients have already seen “the rest,” now give them the chance to meet the best.
The marketing experts at New York Ave have helped dozens of independent dentists throughout Central Florida re-invigorate their business. There’ll always be a need for your services – now, with modern and ethical marketing on your side, you can inspire your community to choose you over big names.
Contact New York Ave today to find out more or get started.