Dentistry holds a unique place in the healthcare industry for several reasons. First, dentistry is often framed as “not medicine.” Health insurance plans typically don’t cover dental care and it’s rarely prioritized by patients in the way that other types of healthcare are. Second, while rural areas may struggle to attract doctors, particularly specialists, dental care tends to be feast or famine. Some areas, particularly urban, wealthy areas have a glut of dental professionals, but as of 2013, 46 million Americans live in areas where there aren’t enough dentists to provide care. If you’re a practicing dentist today seeking to promote your services, the issue isn’t necessarily one of advertising, especially if you’re in an area with a sizeable number of practitioners. Rather, the bigger challenge is one of differentiation – you have to demonstrate that your practice offers something that your competitors can’t. In order to do that, you’ll need to carefully assess your offerings, and then develop a marketing strategy that emphasizes and highlights those high value services.
Conceptualize Your Brand
Your brand is much more than a name or a logo; it’s everything that your dental practice stands for in the community. To successfully market your practice, then, you need to develop a consistent brand identity that encapsulates your specialty, but also thinks beyond it. Potential patients want to know not just what your practice offers, but who you are. What are your practice’s roots in the community? Are you a family-friendly practice? Do you specialize in fear-free dentistry? Your brand identity is as much an advertising strategy as a statement of your business’s philosophy.
Once you have a clear sense of what your brand stands for, the next step in differentiating your practice is to demonstrate clear authority in the areas that matter. That includes different types of dental care, as well as patient relations, trends in both oral health and dental practice management, and more. For example, many companies are launching dental care programs that are meant to take the place of insurance and patients will want to know whether you accept those problems, as well as your perception of how they fit into appropriate preventative care and treatment. What’s interesting about authority as a marketing concept is that it doesn’t actually matter how much you know, but how you express that information – and how visible that information is. In order to optimize your site’s authority, you need to both generate quality content for your practice’s site and disseminate that information in the form of backlinks. The best way to do this is by working with a company specializing in SEO for dentists. They can ensure your site contains the kind of high-quality content that will give you an advantage in the rankings. These companies know how to leverage your brand identity in combination with current SEO standards so that your site will be highly visible, even in a crowded marketplace.
Answer Questions With Content
It’s easy to generate basic landing page content identifying your practice’s offerings, but the real goal of your website should be to answer potential customer questions in meaningful ways. Pay attention to the search terms that are funneling users to your website and determine what types of content you could produce in response. Obviously simple queries like “dentist near me” don’t need much of a response, but questions about cosmetic procedures, oral health care, and different dental products can all be starting points for new content. In addition to generating content based on queries that lead to your site, it’s also important to keep up to date with current industry search terms and trends – and your SEO company can help with this. Are there popular queries that are leading potential clients to competitor sites instead of to your page? If so, how can you add new content that will boost your practice’s rankings for those queries?
Put Service Front And Center
Finally, as you continue to hone your website, it’s important to find a way to center your existing clients and their experiences with your practice. Perhaps more than any other specialty, prospective dental patients want to know that you provide top quality customer service. After all, many people have severe dental anxiety and, since they likely either don’t have dental insurance or will still pay the majority of dental costs out of pocket despite insurance, they want to know that they’re going to receive service that’s worth what they pay. You can counter patient hesitancy by sharing reviews by current patients as well as content that focuses on how you support patients who experience a high degree of stress in connection with dental procedures. In today’s digital healthcare environment, people will seek out reviews, so cultivate honest and informed reviews from real patients on your site. The dental field is facing challenging conditions, and over the next decade experts expect that there will be more dental hygienists and assistants than needed to meet industry demand, but not enough actual dentists. And while this may seem advantageous – that it should lead to a glut of patients – it’s really an untenable situation, particularly if dental practices continue to be so unevenly distributed. Practices in areas with a large number of dental practices will still need to compete for a limited client base, and it all starts with your website.