If you’re no longer generating enough new patients through referrals, that means… it’s time to start marketing your dental practice.
Surely you need to start thinking about how to make your marketing appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Right?
In fact, the vast majority of dentists or practice leaders who take on the challenge of building a marketing campaign make this one key mistake:
They jump in without first developing a new patient avatar.
Instead, they create a campaign that appeals to their own sensibilities. And then they spend thousands of dollars running ads — only to wonder why their ROI is DOA.
But here’s the good news: You don’t have to be like that! In this short guide, we’ll teach you how to build a foundation for your marketing that will help ensure your content speaks not to you, but to the specific kind of new patient you most want to attract.
Follow this approach and you won’t only see your new patient numbers rise. You’ll also spend less money bringing each one through your doors — because you’ll be able to stop wasting ad dollars on the people who don’t want to hear from you and target only those that do.
In other words, you’ll start acting like a real marketer.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Why You Need a New Patient Avatar
Picture your ideal new patient. Every time this person walks into your office, you think to yourself, “If I could only get 15 more like him or her each month, my practice would be in great shape.”
Whoever that person is, they’re your avatar.
Now, defining your avatar is essential for one simple reason. This is because good marketing is not about appealing to everyone.
Good marketing — good dental marketing — is about appealing directly to your avatar. When you build your marketing to speak to your avatar, you’re no longer stuck trying to sell warm milk, but strong coffee.
And that changes the game completely.
You’re no longer just throwing a marketing message out into the universe and hoping that it lands. Instead, you can tailor your marketing to directly address your avatar’s pain points — the specific problems in their life that your services can solve.
For example, let’s say you specialize in implant dentistry. Rather than crafting overly broad ads, you build a campaign that appeals directly to your avatar: female, mid-50s, with a six-figure income.
Think less, “Try dental implants to replace your missing teeth!” and more, “Remember what confidence feels like.”
When you drill down on your avatar, you’ll also be able to target your ads on the back end much more accurately — making sure that your chosen ad platform (like Facebook or Google) is serving them to your ideal audience.
Here’s How to Build a New Patient Avatar That Works
Still with us? Great!
Let’s run through the process of building a new patient avatar. Don’t worry, we’ll keep it painless.
1. Choose your top treatment
Here’s something you might not expect. When you set out to make your new patient avatar, you shouldn’t start by thinking about it from a marketing perspective.
Instead, your first conversation should be with your clinical team. And the big question is: What kind of treatment do we want to do more of?
All-on-4? Invisalign? Hygiene appointments? There’s no wrong answer, but you need to pick one specific option — and no, “We just want more general dentistry patients,” doesn’t count.
(Later on, you can develop additional avatars to market additional treatments, but for now, let’s keep it simple.)
Note that at this stage of the process, the focus is on the treatment and not on the patient. That part comes later.
For now, whichever treatment you choose is going to be the cornerstone of your marketing campaign.
2. Figure out your operational bandwidth
This next step is easy to breeze past, but do that and your whole team will pay for it down the road. You need to figure out your new patient operational capacity — or how many additional folks you can fit in to perform whichever treatment you chose in Step 1.
For this part, you’ll want to bring your front desk or scheduling team into the conversation alongside clinical. Everybody needs to be on the same page: If you start marketing X treatment, how many new patients can you schedule for that treatment each week?
This is important not only because it will help you decide if the treatment you chose to focus on makes sense, but because it will help you determine how aggressive you’ll be (read: how much money you’ll invest) in pursuing your avatar.
Get clear on capacity and you’ll also be able to schedule new patients more quickly, which will help keep them from skipping out on their new patient consult because another practice is able to see them sooner.
3. Look at your market data
Now that you’ve got a specific treatment in mind and know how many appointments your team can handle, it’s time to look at the data. Specifically, who in your market is buying this treatment?
Ideally, you’ve got a PMS full of data on your existing patients that you can use to start answering this question. If you’re choosing to focus on Invisalign, say, then dig into your records for all the Invisalign patients you’ve worked with in the past.
What are the key demographic patterns? And — what else can you learn from reviewing your notes from consultations or new patient visits?
If you don’t have great data, that’s okay. You can also buy third-party market research to help you get a clearer picture of who you need to be marketing towards.
4. Build your avatar
This is it! We’re ready to build your avatar.
Here, take everything you learned in Step 3 and condense it into a single person. You should start by covering facts like:
- General location
- Employment status
But you don’t want to stop there. Based on your review of your existing patients and any market research that you’ve done, you also want to think about this person’s motivations.
What is driving them to seek treatment? More specifically, what problems do they have that you can solve for them?
Come up with a list of pain points that your avatar is struggling with. These can be both immediate (like crooked teeth) and more big-picture emotional or psychological (as a result, your avatar lacks confidence and pursues fewer opportunities).
This part is really important, so put in some time and energy here. You can even try searching social media, Yelp, or Reddit to read what people are saying about the specific treatment you’re marketing for — and why they themselves are seeking it.
Then write all of this out on paper. If you want to, you can ever give your avatar a name and find a photo for them. (Seriously.)
Now You’re Ready to Start Creating Your Marketing Campaign
Once you’ve established your avatar, you’ll be ready to start building a campaign to reach them. And unlike most DIY dental marketers, yours will be set up to succeed.
After all, at its core, marketing is really simple. All you’re doing is identifying someone’s problem and then telling them how your business can solve it.
You just need to be really clear on whose problem you’re solving.
When you start building out your ads, write them like you’re addressing your avatar personally. Your content is not for everybody — just for that ideal patient who is going to walk through your practice doors and ask for the specific treatment you most want to provide.
The funny thing is, the more you appeal to that one person, the more your patient list will grow.
We’ll Fill Your Waiting Room
At SMC, we specialize in one thing: generating new patients for dental practices. And we’re really good at it — because we do exactly what we’ve just shown you above.
Unlike most marketing companies, we’re dental nerds. We’ve developed a huge library of new patient avatars based on extensive, granular research of dental markets throughout America.
This means that we can target your marketing to your ideal new patient from the get-go. We’ll also work with your clinical and operations teams to determine what treatment(s) you should build your marketing around, plus figure out your specific new patient capacity so you won’t over budget your ad campaign.
As a result, we consistently help our clients to boost their new patient counts while spending less money per patient.
Schedule a free consultation today to learn more!