What’s the Biggest Challenge in Your Practice? If you are like most dentists, it’s marketing. The ongoing success of your practice is tied to having a steady flow of new clients that you can serve and retain as ongoing patients. But to reach them you need to develop a marketing plan that is effective and affordable. How will you reach new customers?
Engaging Potential Customers on Their Path to Purchase
Your future customers exist within a decision making spectrum that you can influence every step of the way. This “cognitive path to purchase” represents opportunities for you to reach consumers and provide information and motivation to convert them into customers. By leveraging proven tools that focus on specific points along the path to purchase you can exert control and create a consistent flow of new patients.
There are four major points along the path to reach out to your potential customers: Stasis, Problem Solving, Vendor Selection, and Returning Customer.
- Stasis – As consumers we all have a large collection of needs and or desires that we are not ready to act upon. At the Stasis point consumers want your services but are not motivated to act on it.
- Problem Solving – These are consumers that have an active need or desire that is not yet associated with making a purchase. They are trying to find information that will help them solve their current problem so they can make a decision.
- Vendor Selection – These are consumers are ready to make a purchase and must locate and evaluate a vendor.
- Returning Customer – Your existing customers represent a marketing component that is often overlooked. They are similar to the Stasis point in the path to purchase except you already have a connection through which to reach them.
An Example of Marketing the Path to Purchase for Dentists
So what does the path to purchase look like for dental patients? Let’s look at the path to purchase for dental implants as an example.
A consumer at Stasis may have a missing tooth that has been gone for several years. They are aware of dental implants and find the idea appealing but the cost and hassle of the procedure has left the desire on the sidelines. To reach them, a dental office would run a series of Native Ads on Facebook. These can be precisely targeted to your service area and are encountered by your audience within the realm of an enjoyable pastime so they are not intrusive. The messaging of the ads presents implants as being easier and more affordable than ever before. A click through to a carefully crafted landing page makes the first step in the process of getting an implant an attractive proposition.
2. Problem Solver
A Problem Solver may be considering implants but is not really sure how they work or how much they cost. They will start firing questions into Google, like “How much do dental implants cost?” or “Can dental implants be done in one visit?” Notice that they are searching online but not for a dentist. They are researching in order to make a better decision. To reach these consumers a dentist would employ Content Marketing by developing a regular schedule of articles to publish on their site that would address common questions that dental patients struggle to find the answers to. These will improve the site’s rank as well as capturing consumers at the problem solving stage. In this instance several articles would address how implants are used and general cost information.
3. Vendor Selection
A consumer engaged in Vendor Selection knows they want an implant but they now need to determine where to get it. Local Search is critical at this point in the path to purchase. Even if consumers do not enter a geographic qualifier into their search (ex. dental implants in Bethesda, MD) Google and other search engines will automatically provide results based on their location. Your practice must have all your local citations (Google Local, Yelp, Bing Local etc.) in order to maximize your positioning. At this stage Local Account Optimization and Local Search Marketing are employed to make your practice on of the top choices a consumer engaged in Vendor Selection will encounter.
4. Returning Customers
Finishing out our example with dental implants, your Returning Customers may have discussed implants with you already, and while they find it appealing they are not yet ready to commit. Email Marketing is a great way to stay top of mind with a newsletter that leverages your content marketing. A quarterly e-newsletter that provides snippets and links to the articles on your site is a great way to remind loyal customers of the great services and care they can receive.
This example shows the various points at which dentists can market to consumers but there are others. Loyal customers can be reached with Email Marketing, Paid Search and additional strategies with Social Media can all be used to expand upon this basic example. By looking at your potential customers challenges and addressing them with appropriate marketing tools you will be able to create interest in your practice at each level of the path to purchase.
As consumers work their way towards becoming customers you will be able to engage with them and demonstrate why your dental practice is their best choice. But, marketing to them at different stages must be ongoing. Using a proven approach will allow you to accomplish your marketing goals consistently and affordably.
Leveraging the Elements of Online Marketing
Here’s what a basic marketing plan for dentists would look like with the marketing tools we have developed at SynaVista:
Monthly Marketing Plan
- Native Ad Campaign – $550
- Content Marketing – $450
- Local Account Optimization – $150
Total Monthly Marketing Cost = $1,150
This provides marketing at all three major points in the path to purchase and costs less than a couple of print ads in your local newspaper. Best of all the results can be monitored through analytic reporting which will allow you to build on your success.