Do You Understand the
Patient Pathway?
Marketing for Dentists

“If you build it they will come” does not apply in this day and age when it comes to your practice. Marketing for dentists means attracting the right patients, and it’s not as simple as opening up shop and waiting for the phone to ring.

Heaven no, there is plenty of competition fighting for clients, including yours.

Digital and Offline marketing works in phases. Though some people are looking for a dentist right away, most of your potential patients conduct research on several dentists before they make a choice. Once they visit your website, you can’t just assume they’re ready to plop down in your dentist’s chair.

Your patients need to see your passion and expertise when they’re researching your practice. They also need to know what kind of person you are. Useful, audience-oriented content turns a visitor into a lead. Leads aren’t always ready to commit right off the bat, so a patient might not go straight from a Google search to your waiting room.

Hint:  What THEY say about you is 1000X-time more important than what you say, even if you’re 1000x-times more articulate of eloquent.

They need time to think and do research, and you need to consistently nurture them along the way.  Think emotional VALUE PROPOSITIONS.

There is a natural sequence for turning strangers into new patients and promoters. See for yourself…

The Patient Pathway

The 5 Phases Patients Experience

These five phases represent your potential patient’s “client” journey, from stranger to promoter. As they research your practice, give you their contact information in exchange for useful “value propositions” free content, and eventually become a patient, you have the chance to entertain, educate and engage them every step of the way.

Phase 1: Stranger

Before they booked their first appointment, each of your patients were a stranger to your practice. They didn’t know what to expect and they didn’t know how you operate until they entered your waiting room and reached the end of their appointment.

That’s where your potential customers are starting as strangers. But who are your potential patients? You need to define your potential patient, a process known as “defining the buyer persona.”  Think unique emotional benefits.  Experiences.

To turn strangers into visitors, you need to craft a marketing message that resonates with your ideal patient. What are their fears? What are their concerns? How can your services turn them into a better version of themselves?

Your marketing message should reflect your ideal patient’s needs, wants and desires. You should solve their problems and explain the tangible benefits of choosing your dental practice.

Listen-up.  They are tuned-in to their “WII-FM” What’s In It — For Me channel.

Phase 2: Visitor

Your marketing message has to reach the stranger where they hang out, online. It might be as simple as finding your website with a Google search, or it might be because a friend recommended you to them on Twitter.

Ideally, you should engage your potential patients everywhere they spend time online. Social media, search engines, forums, review websites– the more, the better.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how they heard about you. If they’re interested, they’re going to visit your website. That’s why the next step is so important.

Phase 3: Lead

Most dentist’s websites skip this step, which is awesomeness news for you. If you’re the only dentist in your area proactively capturing leads, it creates a profitable opportunity for your practice.

The goal during this phase is to convert your website visitors into leads, which allows you to thoughtfully follow up with them until they become patients.

I like to think of a lead as someone who has “raised their hand” and exchanged their contact information for valuable content. We call that valuable content a “lead magnet.”

My team and I create lead magnets for dentists all the time, so we know they work. If you want to create one, you need to focus on what your patients want to know. How can your knowledge add value to their lives? If you’re interested in creating your own lead magnet, I recommend starting with this article from Atlanta Marketing Center.

Good news! Most doctor websites skip this step, thus creating a profitable opportunity for your practice.  The goal here is to convert your website visitors into leads, allowing you to follow up with them until they become patients. What’s a lead? Someone who has “raised their hand” and has provided you their contact information in exchange for something else of value (a.k.a. a “lead magnet”).

When you truly understand why and how to become the Preeminent Player is your niche, ideally putting you in a competition free zone.

Phase 4: Patient “Client”

When they arrive at phase four, your leads have not given you any money.

Unfortunately, not every lead is ready to become a patient, yet. That’s why it’s important to engage your leads, with “VALUE PROPOSITIONS” — content they’ll find  entertaining, educational and engaging, after they’ve given you their contact information.

Content so good, they would pay for it, yet it’s free.

We call that process “nurturing.” eNewsletters, autoresponder emails, and follow up sequences help keep you on the top of your lead’s mind– without seeming overly pushy.  Remember, your want to show-up differently if you want to capture their attention.  Which continues to become more difficult.

Basically, you’re keeping in touch until they become a new patient.

Phase 5: Promoter

Finally, the stranger-turned-visitor-turned-lead is your patient “Client”. Congratulations!

Don’t stop here, though. Your current patient base can be cultivated to expand your online and offline visibility, and they can help grow your practice with word of mouth referrals. Even after they’ve left your practice, you should continue to inform and delight them

The patient becomes a brand advocate or promoter. They’ll help you market your practice because they like you so much.

Remember, almost nothing good happens automatically, only bad happen.  Everything, I mean everything can NOT be taken for chance.  You want your innovative communication protocols to be accountable and measurable.

Are you seriously interested is building a referral culture, including referral kits for your practice?  If yes, we’ll want to talk?

Applying the Patient Pathway to Your Practice

Sure, this is good information and all, but how does it apply to your practice?

Great question. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s like a patient calling your office over the phone and, without an exam and consultation, asking you to fix a toothache.

Every practice is different, and yours is no exception. Marketing for dentists isn’t a cookie cutter affair.

To move a potential patient through all five phases of their journey, you’ll need to do some work. That means identifying your ideal patient, figuring out how to meet their specific needs, creating useful content, getting their contact information, keeping in touch, and delighting them even after they’ve become a patient.

If you need any help along the way, I suggest you get started here and you’ll discover and uncover the whole shebang for dentists, or just give me a call.

To your marketing success!

-Brad Lloyd

“The Place to Discover Innovative Communication Protocols to Help Entrepreneurs & Professional Practices — Who Demand & Expect To Be THE PREEMINENT PLAYER In Their Niche— By Consistently Delivering Compelling, Electrifying & No-Nonsense Measurable Content —  So Awesomeness, They Would Pay For It …. Here’s WHY:  THEY “YOU” ARE 100% TOTALLY FOCUSED ON THE OTHER-SIDE ….”

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