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Now is the time you need to position your orthodontist practice to withstand a recession. The hard preparation work should be done well before the looming recession begins to hit in your area. The great news is that your local business will be stronger even if the recession never comes. Here is how to recession proof your orthodontic business so it doesn’t go the way of the dinosaur.
Understand Your Market
While it may be tempting to cut your market budget as you enter into a recessionary period, this is the time that you need to understand your target audience better. It is one of the key things that recession proof businesses do differently.
You can start to use free tools available to you to understand who exactly is in your target audience. One of the best places to start is in Google Analytics. Open your analytics account and click on the ‘Audience’ tab. Then, click on the ‘Overview and Market’ segment. Clicking on the various categories on the market segment page allows you to see demographics for each group. You can then apply what you have learned about your target audience to marketing your local business.
Google Trends is another insightful free tool that analyses the popularity of top keyword search queries. The website uses graphs to compare the search volume of different queries over time. Using this tool will help you predict and prepare your business services accordingly.
What if you could use new technology to position your practise in front of pre-qualified orthodontic patients and NOT loose them to mail-order braces companies? Now you can by offering virtual consultations.
It’s a totally unique method of attracting new patients to grow your orthodontics practice now and in a recession. Capture a patients interest, then make it convenient for them AND for you to get matched up.
Focus on Family Values
When a recession occurs, people tend to concentrate more on those things that are closest to them. Normally, that is their family and friends. Find ways to incorporate family values into your marketing to recession proof your business. You can accomplish this in several different ways. Take a look at the ‘About Us’ pages to make sure that the orthodontists are promoting family-oriented activities. You may even want to include short blurbs telling a little about each professionals family and interests outside the office. If your practice is privately owned, then make that one of the focuses of your marketing.
Numerous studies show that consumers trust local, family-owned businesses more than corporately owned ones. I know I do!
Maintain Market Spending
While it may be tempting to decrease your market spending on your orthodontic practice when a recession is beckoning, it is important to keep investing. Make sure that your marketing has goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely. Spend time measuring which platforms are performing best for your practice.
With nearly 70% of website traffic coming via mobile, your site should be fully responsive for hand held devices or you will be losing qualified leads literally hand over fist.
If only 1% of your converted traffic comes by way of social media networks like Facebook (see Google Analytics), ease back on the time and money you spend there and put more emphasis in that areas where you are generating the bulk of your conversions (website visitors to paying patients) by creating more valuable content to drive them in to your sales funnels for example. Do A/B testing so that you have concrete answers about what is providing results, and then double-down.
Know Where Your Marketing Dollar is Going
Often marketers convince orthodontists that they need to pay them a flat fee, but they have no idea where their marketing dollar is being spent. Focus on customer touch-points. According to research done by Doctor Jeffrey Lant, you must make contact with a client or potential client seven times over the course of 18 months for them to remember your practice. Analyse where your practice is having the largest contact with customers and increase the ways that you are reaching them.
Concentrate on Your Value-Proposition
Your value-proposition becomes even more vital during a recession. This statement explains the benefits of using your practice over others in your area while emphasising what makes your orthodontic practice unique. In order to create yours, start by identifying the problem that your patients are trying to solve. Focus on those areas in dentistry that are blatant and critical to address during a recession as many people will put off those things that they once considered must-haves until the economy improves. Your answer to the problem should be unique and one where patients will want to take action right away. Make sure that your patients understand that the gains in having you as their orthodontic specialist far outweigh any risks involved. In the end, your value-proposition statement should clearly identify:
- Who the target audience is
- Their pain point
- Why you have the right solution
- What makes you the right practice for them
Do not compete on cost. It’s a death spiral where no one wins. It’s important to remember that now, not only are you competing for the same business with other local orthodontists and dentist in a unhealthy economy, now you also have to contend with DIY braces and companies promising to straighten teeth at home at low cost.
This is your opportunity to communicate your brand values, expertise, experience and professionalism as an orthodontic specialist. Low-cost home teeth straightening options may be a false economy for the uneducated.
Focus on Your Core Competencies
You have things in your practice that are unique from any other orthodontic practice anywhere in the world. In order to recession proof your business, define those core competencies. Understanding your practice’s core competencies lets you identify what makes your practice unique.
One of the best ways to create a core competency for your orthodontic practice is to get further education in a particular field for you and your team, that is not being offered by your competitors.
While it may be tempting to cut back on educational expenses during a recession, doing just the opposite often helps protect your business if you get training in a procedure currently not available in your region. Of course, once you have achieved the training, then you need to communicate that you have those skills and tell customers why it is important to their oral health.
One of the best ideas to market your business in preparation for a recession is to network with others. You may want to host a health fair while bringing in other professions from related fields that your targeted audience is interested in hearing from. You may also want to give your services away to underprivileged children. Make sure to invite the media to cover these special events!
You might also want to make friends in the media and offer to be their go-to source providing local angles on dental stories that are being covered nationally. On the other hand, being active in community groups and local business forums may help keep your business fresh on people’s minds.
You may also want to network with others in the medical field sending your patients with medical concerns to them with the understanding that they will send their patients with orthodontic problems to you.
Ask for Patient Reviews
Since over 84 percent of customers trust online reviews written in the last three months as much as if a friend was making the recommendation, it is imperative that you are found on all the relevant review sites (GMB, Facebook, Yelp etc.) and have a system in place to consistently get new 5 star reviews.
Start by claiming your Google My Business listing if you haven’t already. Once it is claimed, make sure that you keep the description updated as you add new photos, skills and training. You will also want to claim the GMB listing for each of the associate orthodontists in your practice. Keeping those updated too will give your practise more online exposure.
Keeping your dental referrers happy and the qualified referrals rolling in is another important aspect of your business now and during a recession. But if your referrer goes out of business, what does the future look like for you?
Again, new technology could provide the answer. A new Google Chrome app, One Click Referral is possibly the fastest and easiest way for dental colleagues to communicate and refer patients back and forth with each other. The app is easy to install and seamlessly integrates with your Dental Practice Management System.
One Click Referral instantly sends a text notification to your patients and to you, the referred orthodontic office for immediate follow up. It also allows instant communication and exchange of large files and patient details in a HIPAA compliant way. So no more searching for answers, tracking down X-rays or having your patients getting lost in the referral “black hole”. The overall result is a better patient experience and increased treatment acceptance.
Can you outsource any staff and replace with a virtual assistant? A VA can serve as an administrative assistant for your business. Communications is conducted online and by telephone or Skype.
Virtual assistants can be just as efficient as an in-house employee but are cheaper saving the company approximately 20% on top of the workers salary that covers health insurance, taxation, and other benefits not to mention the cost of the space, furnishings and equipment.
Never miss a web based enquiry again by adding a Messenger Bot to your website. These intelligent bots will have a ‘chat’ with each visitor and schedule an appointment for you. You can be notified of every new appointment in real-time via Messenger to your phone, by email and sheets via Zapier.
If you have been looking at ways how to grow your dental practice, follow these key tips to help your orthodontic office not only survive but thrive in the next economic recession. Use your own ingenuity to apply them to your unique circumstances. The result is that you may make so much money during a recession that you hope that it never ends.
Start the process by taking our free website audit allowing you to identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses better.
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Marketing Your Orthodontic Practice in a Recession