While most people typically associate brands with their favorite snacks and drinks, in the world of marketing, a brand entails everything that customers – or patients – think about you and your dental practice.Without needing to be a catchy jingle or beautiful logo, the brand that represents your dental practice is how patients perceive you, and how you want to be perceived.
This topic is rarely covered on the path to your DMD or DDS, so it can feel a little daunting. If you haven’t considered the idea of branding your practice, try this as a quick exercise:
What are the three words you want your patients to associate with you, the care you provide, and your staff?
Your answer will vary based on the type of person you are, the dental care you offer, and the suite of services that you offer to the mouths that walk through your front door. Aside from the benefits of aligning a team working towards a single goal, your brand works as a north star for every task you undertake. If you’re focused on providing reliable attentive care that always finishes on time, you might label yourself as Efficient. Focusing on creating better experiences for people that struggle to get enthusiastic about a checkup might have you land on Caring. However, you reach the three words that guide your practice and your work, these ideas also inform your decisions on how to communicate with your patients.
Whether we explicitly use the word or not, as a business, branding means almost everything to your patients and customers. Offering consistent experiences builds trust. Taking extra steps to properly outline the correct use of a prescription will make patients more confident in their treatment. Texting a patient to remind them that a pill should be taken on a full stomach tells them you’re invested in their health.
This volume of engaging communication can seem like an insurmountable task if your current communication plan is a pile of phone numbers to be called throughout the week. Keeping up with a couple hundred patients week to week is next to impossible for even two or three skilled communicators without the right toolset. Thankfully, many pieces of practice management software now provide options for templating your important missives. Just like an invoice, it’s paramount to have a reliable format that is straightforward and easy to replicate, especially because your business relies so heavily on them.
Pausing for a moment, you’re likely well aware of the topics that generate your most common messages. With the right tools, applying your brand to the emails, text messages, and updates you publish allows for opportunities to build on the relationships that keep your business afloat. If this happens to be the first time you’re thinking about engagement, take the time to sit down and focus on drafting a version of the message you know needs to be sent every day. Make sure it’s especially human and acts as a call to action.
As this system grows and becomes automated, you can establish routines that create expectations with your patients. After a few visits, expectations can turn into reliance as busy patients rushing to or from work know they’ll receive a reminder about the next appointment long before they double-book their precious spare time. That means fewer no-shows and cancellations.
This process doesn’t happen overnight. A brand is cultivated over time with plenty of hard work and vigilance, but the rewards for generating a loyal following that trust you cannot be overstated. Providing open lines of communication every time your patient interacts with your office is the easiest way to squash complaints before they happen, plus you’ll quickly discover patients that consider openness and availability in communication as an important indicator for their care providers. As it turns out, some people value your ability to fit into their busy lives as much as your distance from transit or their office. Those current and potential patients not only have better health outcomes but become evangelists for your business over time.
If you’re curious about what an evangelist is, remember your last social or professional gathering. There’s always someone who cannot stop raving about their recent purchase, newest restaurant, or latest show that’s streaming. When you’re offering a standout service that sets you apart from the competition, people will go out of their way to tell their friends and colleagues how amazing you are. That’s invaluable marketing for your practice, but most importantly – it’s free.
When patients happily spread the word of your proficient care and concise communication, they’re providing social proof. Dental practices have almost always relied on strong social proof, whether it was an eloquent quote, passionate testimony, or personal recommendations, especially now that 84% of people trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. People can be nervous when it comes to the in’s and out’s of their own mouth. but knowing a practice works hard to provide amazing oral care that doesn’t start and stop with each appointment makes their decision all the easier.
Now that we’ve covered the importance of building a brand that permeates into every email and text you’ll send, think about actionable steps you can take that lead to success and loyal, engaged patients.