How to Introduce Dental Implants to Your Patients
Roger P. Levin, DDS
Dental implants are fast becoming a staple service of general dentistry, and it's no surprise. Success rates are extremely high and patients can access implant diagnosis and treatment almost anywhere in the United States. Dentists who have yet to introduce implants into their practice may be thinking that they've missed the boat. However, despite the steady growth there is still a large potential for more, so now is as good a time as any to jump on the implant bandwagon.
Determine Your Brand
The first step in introducing or expanding dental implants in a practice is to create a sub-brand around implants. It would be risky for a practice that offers multiple services to brand exclusively around dental implants, so creating a sub-brand is a smart approach. In determining its sub-brand, the practice should consider the following questions: (1) How many patients are aware that the practice participates in dental implant diagnosis and/or treatment, and how many have taken advantage of this service? (2) How many patients have been referred to the practice specifically for dental implant diagnosis or treatment? (3) How often do patients ask the dentist or hygienist about dental implants?
Create Your Message
After determining its brand, the practice needs to promote the brand with effective messaging. Branding messages can be used in marketing and communication campaigns to patients as well as to the external community. Some sample messages include the following: (1) Ask us about dental implants. (2) Do you know how successful dental implants really are? (3) Dental implants allow patients to keep their teeth for a lifetime. (4) Find out how dental implants can improve the quality of your life. (5) Dental implants are for everyone.
Be sure to place messages like these in multiple areas around the office to help catch the interest of patients.
Design an Implant Marketing Program
The next step is to include the messaging within an internal marketing program that centers around providing implant education and knowledge to the practice's patient base. Current patients likely already trust the practice and are probably loyal to it, and, therefore, they'll usually be interested in what it has to say.
The practice's marketing campaign could include the following components: monthly communication with patients via short educational emails; doctor- or hygienist-scripted messaging for every patient who comes to the office; messaging placed in all written and electronic communication with patients, such as statements, appointment reminders, etc; scripted messaging for new-patient phone calls to inform the person that the practice has a range of services that includes implant dentistry; a"request for referrals" program that enables patients to refer others for implant diagnosis and which could be complementary or provided at a courtesy fee. Additionally, evening seminars could be provided for patients interested in dental implants. These seminars would be publicized to the entire patient base, with patients encouraged to bring their friends. Seminars of this type would also serve as a marketing vehicle for spreading the word to those who may have a future interest in or need for dental implants.
These components will help create awareness among patients about dental implants and perhaps lead to further questions, as the practice will appear open and caring in regard to patient interests and concerns. These also are major components in patient relations, bonding, and longevity.
In any marketing campaign it is important to measure results. In the case of marketing the introduction or early expansion of dental implants to a practice, measurements are rather easy. They can be as simple as tallying the number of patients who receive implant diagnosis and/or treatment as well as the number of implants that are actually placed within a given period, eg, 12 months. Some offices may choose to refer to others for implant placement and perform the restorative side of implant dentistry. This, too, should be measured. It would also be beneficial to measure implant-related production, overhead costs, and profitability. These measurements allow practices to define goals and work toward improving them on an annual basis.
Introducing or expanding implant dentistry requires effective branding and marketing. By understanding how to implement marketing and case presentation tactics for implant dentistry, almost any practice can be successful in expanding its implant dental services.
About the Author
Roger P. Levin, DDS, Founder and CEO, Levin Group, Inc. (levingroup.com), a dental management consulting firm founded in 1985 that has worked with more than 30,000 dental practices. Dr. Levin has authored 65 books and over 4,000 articles on dental practice management and marketing.