Converting Clicks to Clients
How to attract newer dentists
Not long ago, it seemed that a technician could open a lab if they were able to fabricate a porcelain-fused-metal dental crown (PFM). Now, PFMs are going the way of dinosaurs and the CAD/CAM age has taken over. As older dentists are retiring from the field, new and recent dental school graduates are joining it with a different set of expectations about technology, speed, and cost for dental prosthetics.
These new prospective clients are digital natives, meaning they’ve grown up using and being comfortable with technology and its fast paced evolution over the last 20 to 30 years, and they bring this awareness to their dental practices. They know there are low-priced laboratories out there, and they know that innovative laboratory work for implants and esthetics is available. They want fast, excellent work for low prices. But how do you satisfy these expectations without breaking the bank?
First and foremost, a laboratory that hasn’t already upgraded its equipment to a digital workflow should either purchase the digital equipment or team up with a good outsourcing partner. Then perfect your processes and build your portfolio, identifying your laboratory’s key strength—like speed, low cost, high quality, technology used, etc—so that you can promote it with confidence. Your finished product portfolio is the bedrock upon which all marketing efforts are built, so you need to make sure it is solid.
Positioning yourself as an experienced and technologically savvy thought leader will go a long way with both older and younger clients alike. Write articles and speak at local study clubs and in-office lunch-and-learns. If you have a unique story or perspective you may even get invited to present at trade shows and larger venues. Taking advantage of opportunities like these will give you a more recognizable name and can eventually make you an authority figure in your field.
Similarly, strengthen your bonds within the dental technician community so that you can continually learn with and from each other. Joining or even leading study groups and participating in continuing education opportunities are part of that effort. They can lead to important opportunities and contacts in the industry, too.
Establishing and maintaining your laboratory’s online presence is another key component. Make sure your website looks impressive and conveys your brand message, which you’ll also use in marketing the business through social media. To help ensure a strong brand, laboratory managers could get social marketing training, hire someone to build out your social media, or turn the task over to a good social networking company.
This is known as multichannel marketing and it can be effective when implemented correctly. It includes the entire “package” of your marketing communications, from website to email, social media, traditional print mailings, newsletters, blogs, etc. It uses a test-and-learn approach to all these methods, along with considering them holistically as part of a unified marketing campaign. Tracking what kind of content “tests” well and what’s learned from each attempt at contact, whether positive or negative, is critical. Google Analytics, for example, offers an inexpensive way to know who’s visited your website, what they've clicked on, and level of engagement.
Increasing the amount of data you have on potential clients is also key for these marketing efforts. Build and maintain a list that includes as much of their contact and business details as possible, especially their laboratory preferences and priorities (cost, speed, etc). For each “touch”—be it email send, social media post, or postcard mailing—refer dentists back to your website to encourage further engagement and as a way to capture more information about them.
Another important part of gaining the web-savvy client market is to ensure your laboratory has high visibility in search engine results like Google’s. Having a strong online presence will help your business become a top result when they search for “dental laboratory,” “dental cosmetics,” or anything laboratory related. Search engine optimization, as it’s known, is very complex, so it may be better to leverage a digital marketing consultant for that.
Online ratings portals are very popular among younger people, including new dentists, so it can also help to get on to a laboratory rating site like bestlabs.dental. They independently evaluate and rate quality, services, fees, etc., and post their findings. Assuming that your laboratory is rated well, these ratings could further boost your online presence. Laboratories can also promote these ratings on their own websites or on social media.
A client is worth more now than ever before. So when you get a lead through any channel, you should “treat it like gold.” Each message or email asking for more information indicates an important opportunity. It’s not enough to only acknowledge that they reached out to you. You need to follow through immediately. Answer as quickly as possible via email, messaging, and/or with a telephone call. If they are located within 100 miles, arrange to talk with them face to face. Ask these prospects what they are looking for and assure them that you’ll be on top of it.
This may seem like a lot to handle, but don’t let it become overwhelming. It is the new reality, and the sooner you start to adapt to the changes, the more successful you will be. This evolution will be a continual process for you, so don’t feel like you have to do everything overnight. Start with something relatively comfortable and complete one task at a time. You could soon be discovering great results with this proven system.
Scott Emett is the owner of Riverside Dental Studio in Saint George, Utah.