The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed how businesses operate—it’s also provided an opportunity for companies across all industries to rethink their marketing strategies. Generally, the advice that’s been consistently given to business owners is to find something—anything—positive that may come out or has already come out of this situation, and capitalize on that. Of course, for each industry, this looks a little different.
For medical practices that provide both essential and non-essential services to patients, such as dental practices, the marketing aspect of the business continues to change and evolve as the situation changes and evolves. Back in March, when the mandated shutdowns forced most practices to close their doors completely, dental practices were challenged to find new ways to stay connected with existing patients.
Now that the parameters for a “new normal” are being set and people are slowly starting to seek out non-emergency health and hygiene services again, dental practices need to think about how they can not only retain their current patients, but also gain new business under the current constraints.
Getting proper dental care is just as important and beneficial for your patients now as it ever was, and it’s important to remind them of this. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you develop a strategy for sharing this message during this unprecedented time:
How can we emphasize safety?
Assure current and new patients that protecting their health and safety is still, and always has been, your top priority. How will the layout of your office and patient rooms be changing to comply with the CDC’s social distancing guidelines? How will you safely distribute important information to patients that might’ve been best delivered via a close face-to-face discussion in the past? If patients see that you are doing everything you can to provide a safe, healthy environment for dental care, they will be more likely to return to your practice in the future.
What specific services do my patients need, and what are their biggest concerns?
Despite everything that’s changed, one aspect of marketing that definitely hasn’t is the importance of understanding your target clientele’s needs. People are likely going to be coming in for dental and orthodontic procedures that they’ve been putting off for a while due to coronavirus anxiety, and they’ll be coming in for both cosmetic and health reasons.
Some might be in need of treatment that could affect other aspects of their well-being, like their confidence and self-esteem (things like braces or implants) or their ability to communicate with others (things like extractions and gum surgery). Good news for those patients—still-mandatory mask-wearing solves the issue of self-consciousness that may result from cosmetic changes, and online communication that requires absolutely no talking has never been more prominent! Designing ads like the one below will ultimately make patients feel better about continuing to take care of their oral health.
How has my practice remained active in the local community during the pandemic—and how will I continue to do so as we settle into a new normal?
All along, dental practices should have been thinking along the lines of transparency, empathy, and finding safe ways to help patients during this crisis. Some have provided emergency services free of charge due to patients’ financial hardships, while others have used the time to explore digital means of patient outreach and retention they may have never considered before, such as “teledentistry” (conducting visits and consultations and sharing important information with patients remotely via digital platforms).
While your dental practice is indeed a business, your primary objective should still be helping your local community get the quality care they need regardless of the circumstances. So, keep that in mind as you adjust and move forward with your marketing efforts. It’s the best way to establish long-term trust.
How can I stress the importance of continuing with regular dental care as the pandemic continues?
This goes hand-in-hand with the “reassurance that we are creating a safe environment” aspect, but adds in the extra element of a caring tone; whatever you determine is the best method of connecting with your current patients and target clientele, whether it’s social media, email, direct paper mail, a combination of these, or something else entirely, make sure you are gently urging the importance while also keeping patients’ very real concerns in mind.
Perhaps our most important piece of advice is to simply keep at it. Chances are, the patients who’ve been loyal to your practice for many years will return once they feel comfortable doing so, as long as you stay connected with them and continue communicating the message that your dental services are the very best the local area has to offer. Keep researching, keep staying up to date on the latest information from the CDC and WHO, keep paying close attention to how the COVID situation is evolving and is projected to evolve over the next couple of months, and keep sharing updates with existing patients on what your practice is doing to comply with any changing guidelines or best practices within the industry.
This situation is temporary and will eventually improve, but for the time being, adjusting your marketing accordingly is an important step in growing and expanding your practice even while the healthcare industry faces such uncertainty.
Make use of imagery
Images have always been a key component of dental marketing, simply because oral health tends to be so plainly visual. So, now more than ever, we encourage you to use those pictures of beautiful smiles, get professional photos taken of your practice’s new layout, and explore other creative uses of imagery in your marketing assets.
Use digital channels
Informative YouTube videos, podcasts, social media posts—even if your practice has never been the most tech-savvy in the past, now is definitely the time to learn. These are some of the types of media that people consume most regularly and most avidly, so capitalize on that to maintain your image as an expert in your industry!
Keep patients’ financial situations in mind
If you are offering post-COVID discounts to new patients, be sure to incorporate that message into your ad copy and design
Put safety front and center
This Florida practice, Family Dental at Alafaya Crossings, did an excellent job of displaying their emphasis on patient safety on their website.
Ease patients’ anxiety
You can do this by keeping your patients informed, as this Chicago practice, 1st Family Dental, did on their website.
Article by Ari Leo
Ari Leo is a passionate and creative content writer who enjoys helping clients reach their full potential. She holds an MA in Professional Writing & Communication and a BFA in Photography from the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth.
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