Nurse sitting down using a computer as a patient talks to her over the desk

Internal Marketing for Dentists: Essential Tips

Jul 26, 2018

Author: Mirissa D. Price, Harvard DMD '19

You open your dental practice only to find, as reported by Titan Web Agency, that you spend 20 to 30 percent of your gross revenue on marketing. Competition and your budget are tight.

The good news is that effective internal marketing for dentists may help to reduce your practice's external marketing expenses. In fact, the results of an international poll conducted by Nielsen show that many customers trust internal marketing more than traditional advertisements.

So, how can you put internal marketing to work?

First of All, What Is Internal Marketing for Dentists?

Internal marketing can be as simple as "word-of-mouth marketing." Your own patients are your greatest marketing asset as they can tell others about your office and, for instance, your gentle touch as a dentist. This offers a personal recommendation as a trusted source of new patients.

How Does Internal Marketing Help a Practice?

With effective internal marketing, your overall marketing expenses could decline and revenue may surge as you build your practice with new and returning patients. You can mail a postcard and keep a website, but those outlets might not distinguish your dental office from the practice next door. A patient's glowing recommendation to a friend, family member, coworker or even an acquaintance, however, provides personal branding and trust you would otherwise spend thousands to build through traditional marketing alone.

How Can You Enhance Your Patients' Experiences?

The patient is your primary marketing tool with word-of-mouth marketing. Therefore, fostering a positive patient experience is key. Patients most likely have several dentists they could go to. If they left their last appointment with a sour taste in their mouth, what's stopping them from booking their next appointment with your competitor?

Ensuring a positive patient experience begins with effective, efficient, compassionate care and may include tangible perks, such as a modern reception room decor and comfortable seating. Also, the patient experience can be made or broken by the ease of flow of dental appointments.

From scheduling to check-in, check-out and billing, patients expect and appreciate efficiency and clarity. The last thing a person with toothache wants to worry about is whether or not their bill is being sent to the correct address. Take the time to organize a system for practice efficiency and patient handoff from the waiting room to the clinical area to the front desk. It will make the experience positive for the patient (and the dental team, too!) and will make your practice look very professional.

How Might Technology Boost Referrals?

Your practice needs systems in place to empower patients to make referrals. Word of mouth can be aided with technology, like social media and online reviews. Your practice and patients must all be readily connected to these interfaces for easy, one-click referrals. Be sure to check with your local guidelines before beginning any referral system since many organizations including, for instance, the Australian Dental Association, have policies guiding the use of patient testimonials.

To this end, invest in targeted, interactive technology. For instance, send patients post-appointment surveys and offer entry into a raffle to thank them for their participation. Don't be bashful to request happy patients to leave you a review online. Newsletters are another social and engaging way to remind your patients of their options to refer a friend or join you on social media.

There are many ways to grow a practice, but there is one method that is possible only with the patients you already have. With internal marketing referrals from the patients you already have, you will cultivate a positive culture and brand for your office while enriching your marketing strategy.