Question from a dental marketing forum:
My new patient numbers have slumped in the last year which corresponds to an increase in coupon type offers from new dentists. Previously I got a decent number of new patients a month with coupon offers. New docs are advertising even cheaper deals which is a huge monetary loss for me to match. Any ideas?
Trying to compete on price alone and undercutting your competitors will be a race to the bottom. Don’t get too bogged down with the pricing. Many patients will go for what’s the easiest and most convenient rather than the cheapest. People now are much more aware of getting value for money, so you need to strike a balance between getting the price right and giving patients the value they look for. If everyone else around you competes on price, emphasize your other advantages.
Do some market research to find out about the needs of your local demographic. There are great market research tools; ESRI is a good place to start.
Define your target patients and see if you can accommodate their needs. What other things besides low price can you offer that your patients will value? Families with kids want convenience, so perhaps you can emphasize that you offer family block appointments, a play area for kids, family-friendly office, doctor and team who are great with kids, emergency care. For working professionals, you may be able to offer evening/weekend hours. If large percentage of your population value quality over price, emphasize good value, quality, trustworthiness, professionalism, reliability.
In addition to market research, check out your competitors’ reviews. Based on these reviews, make a list of each competitor’s positive and negative traits. Borrow their positives, and try to differentiate yourself based on their negatives.
You don’t have to spend lots of money on re-branding your marketing message. Simple market and competitor research can be done on your own and can be very helpful. Start re-branding your online presence since it’s cheap to update and adjust on the fly. Reorganize your website to prioritize the “value” message over coupons. Depending on what your website looks like, you may need to redesign it so it conveys a sense of quality, professionalism, patient-focused care, family-friendly office. Focus on collecting reviews to build up your reputation. If you do any social media, make changes in your social media message accordingly. Make necessary adjustments to your scheduling and internal office operations. Try other, off-line marketing opportunities that may be appropriate in your area (at local festivals, with health clubs, etc.). Try low-cost opportunities first, and tweak your marketing message as necessary. Gradually, you should see some improvement.