“A dental clinic takes 2-3 to run profitably” is a myth from the older times when marketing of a clinic was unheard of and the only patients who came to you were people who knew you or had seen your clinic some time. These days with marketing, especially digital marketing, things have changed drastically. Think of your clinic as a car and marketing as its fuel. Unless you’re fueling your car, it won’t run and you’ll just be paying for maintenance, in other words, unless you invest in marketing, you’ll end up waiting upto 3-5 years for your practice to come to speed. That said, I’m writing down some of the marketing strategies I’ve used for my practice, hope it helps –

OFFLINE MARKETING

1. Dental Camps – There’s barely any cost involved but a lot of effort goes into it. Return is 5-10% on an avg. But it’s really good for marketing as it gets you a one on one interaction with a possible patient. Even if a patient doesn’t come immediately, they remember you for a long time. I have had patients come to me 4 months after the camp. Take their numbers and connect with them on whatsapp to remain in their memory.

2. School Dental Camps – If you can manage a dental camp in a nearby school, that’s the best. In all the camps that I’ve done, apart from ortho requirenents, approximately 85% children have Gingivitis, 40% have Periodontitis and 50% have cavities (this data has been collected in the camps that I’ve conducted myself in schools). But honestly it’s extremely tough to get permission for a camp in schools unless you know someone personally in the management! Though you can start by offering to give a small talk on dental health to children and parents on PTA meetings, after which the school might ask you for the camp themselves.

3. Pamphlets – Pamphleting unless done regularly, is useless. Design of a pamphlet (the kind of pictures, call to action, placement of text and pics etc) is really important as it has a lot of psychological effect on the buying behaviour. Ideally it should be done every week or every 15 days at the same location as repetition is the key for long term memory.

4. Hoardings – They cost less (approx ₹150 per piece) and are good to tell people in the area about your clinic. The downside is that they don’t last long as someone will always tear them or remove them within 10-15 days of you installing them.

5. Socialize – Your initial patients without doubt will be friends and family so don’t forget to tell them about your practice. Be social and meet as many people as you can since literally everyone is a possible patient. You can offer extra discounts to patients who are business owners if they agree to do marketing for you. Depending on their business, either you can ask them to give your visiting cards to all of their customers, or you can get coupons designed for their specific business and have them give it instead of visiting cards.

ONLINE (DIGITAL) MARKETING :

Honestly speaking online marketing has given me more patients than offline. Comparatively digital marketing is cheaper than offline marketing, but it takes a lot of time and energy to learn how to do it properly that’s why it ends up being expensive initially. There are a lot of Digital Marketing agencies out there trying to loot us, don’t fall for them. I haven’t found even a single one who was genuine and knew about the dental market (learnt it the hard way).

We aren’t taught all this in college so we don’t know, but I honestly feel having a good marketing budget is as important (if not more) than having a fancy clinic. Here are some ways of doing Digital Marketing for free –

1. Google – I had patients turning up at my practice through Google since the first week of my practice. Download “Google My Business” app from the Play Store and make a profile with pictures and correct details. Make sure you get reviews from your patients as most people search for dentists on Google. Not mentioning Google paid ads here.
Hack for Google Reviews – Most times it’s difficult to take reviews from patients, so I have taken Google reviews from my close friends and family. The only reason was that this way I had good reviews in a short span of time and that’s what counts. Many patients said they chose me over other dentists because I had better reviews on Google (obviously, I wrote them myself 😛 )

2. Facebook / Instagram – Make a business page on Facebook and Instagram and connect them. Follow some pages on Facebook and you’ll get an idea as to what kind of posts to use on your page. Keep posting some pics and facts regularly. Oragnic reach is almost dead but not completely. I have had many patients coming to me from Facebook as I was regular in posting. Make it a habit to ask patients to like your fb page, especially in camps. If you’re anyway spending your time in a free camp, at least you’ll get followers on Facebook. You can share your posts on your personal fb profile, it also increases your reach. But to be honest, Facebook is more useful when it comes to paid ads and retargeting from your website.

3. Website – A website is like your dental clinic online. Make it as classy as you’ve made your clinic out to be. It will be expensive, so no hurries there. But a website just for the heck of it is of no use. Unless you have plans of doing Digital Marketing properly, you can delay the website. Cheaper options are available like Google and some Patient Management Softwares also provide them for free.

4. Whatsapp – Connect with all your patients on whatsapp. If you do camps, either ask the patients to msg u on whatsapp or take their number and msg them later. You can send them updates and msgs, or you can just upload WhatsApp stories every day. This is one way of reaching your contacts without spamming them as some people might get irritated with unwanted msgs about dental health.

5. Blogs – If you’re good at writing and it interests you, write articles and publish on your website or other blogging platforms. You can also write guest entries for other blogs too. All this will help with Google Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in the long run, not immediately (that’s why do this only as a hobby).

6. Practo – I have purchased their Prime package last month only and have had only one patient. Their concept sounds good but since i didn’t get any patients I wouldn’t really recommend it. The reason I bought it in the first place was that one patient who I’d got from Fb had checked my profile on Practo as well so I figured it wouldn’t be a bad investment.

7. Just Dial – I bought this also last month and only one patient visited my clinic from there. They claimed to have sent me details (name, number and e-mail) of around a 100 people in the month but I only got details of 21 people who searched for dentists in my area. Rest didn’t have any proper details. They suggest calling up the leads given by them but I don’t do that (personal reasons).

P.S. :

1. It’s never a good idea to offer freebies and free checkups as they don’t bring any extra patients. Only the window shopping patients would be interested who go from one clinic to another and compare prices.

2. There is a lot of negativity on social platforms about dentistry in general and patient behaviour in particular. Don’t believe them. 98% patients are very humble, courteous and respect dentists immensely. Be proud and wish you Godspeed!

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