How to make your Presence in the Community Known
Banners, billboards, and television ads can be expensive for even a larger business. How often do you actually look at billboards or watch commercials? Chances are, rarely. For your small business like a dental clinic, it can break the budget. Instead of working overtime just to pay for one ad, be a little bit more creative and focus on actually talking to the locals. It is going to require some legwork and maybe even a little bit of your own money, but over time you won’t have to do quite as much.
If you are just starting out, or your patient flow have decreased recently, here are five great tips on how to make your presence in the community known:
1. Try Local Facebook and Google Ads
Facebook ads provide you with focused consumers who are more likely to read an ad than watch commercials in a Netflix world. When you sign up for the ad, you can target a specific demographic that allows you to minimize clicks and views from people who aren’t actually looking for your information. Facebook’s age skews younger, so you’ll be able to monopolize on families that are just starting. If you do a good job with them, you will have lifetime patients.
To start, only use about $70 a week, and customize by age, gender, education, and interests.
Even if you don’t get clients right away, you will get more “likes” for your Facebook page (which you should already have!) which is free advertising. You can try the same thing with Pinterest, Twitter, or Google.
Google ads are a little tricky nowadays because of the competition. If you do it wrong you can waste a lot of money. Hire a professional or if you try it yourself start small.
2. Try the Local Paper
Many small communities have newspapers that are always hungry for articles. Get in contact with the editor and see if you can have a weekly or monthly column talking about dental care. You can make them super focused on specific things, or go with a theme for the month (pediatric oral health, elderly oral health, heart disease and tooth care) and make sure you have a Call to Action at the end. That call to action should include your information and the number to your practice. It’s more free advertising, and it is just a little bit of writing each week.
If there isn’t a local paper, or you aren’t too sure about writing, try the local news or radio station. While they typically do better than newspapers, they are still hungry for content. Even better, television stations can film at your practice, so people will truly see you in your element.
3. Volunteer Services to a Worthy Cause
People are naturally drawn to those who do good for the community. You probably already get toothbrushes or floss packets that have your name on them, order a few hundred extra, and give them out. Donate them to the local homeless shelter, women’s shelter, Children & Youth Centers, or schools. Schools will often give bags to elementary students to take home when they talk about oral health. Parents will see those bags and perhaps give you a call. You can also offer to go into the school and talk about oral health. It might take up some of your time, but it will result in families learning about your practice. Finally, offer your services to the homeless population, free of charge. Remember though, you must do this because you want to help others, don’t just do it for the publicity – it will be obvious if you do!
4. Be Involved
Communities are all about those times when they have to come together. Instead of skipping out on parades, carnivals, or festivals, set up a booth with a fun game so that kids can win stuffed animals holding dental products – toothbrushes that will of course have your name on them. You just have to make sure that you stand out amongst the other people there, so remember to make your game or product fun and interesting.
Don’t forget about college campuses either! Sometime in the fall (usually September), they will have a wellness fair for incoming students. Students who are away from home don’t always have a dentist nearby, and it could add some new customers, at least for four (or five) years.
There is a great program we sponsor each year, it’s called Brush-a-mania and it’s a program where they arrange for dentists like you to go into schools to discuss oral health with the students. It’s a great inexpensive way to research out to the students in your community.
If you have a bigger budget, a great way to get the word out about your business is to sponsor an event or a team. Chances are, your local school district has little league teams in almost all sports. Pick two (one for girls, one for boys) teams and sponsor them. There is an oversaturation on sports like football and cheerleading, so maybe sponsor the swim team (both genders) or the rugby team. You can do this in college too, sororities, fraternities, yearbooks, newspapers, and club teams are always looking for sponsors as well. Better yet: if there is a minor league team around you, definitely advertise there. People go to the games in droves and are certain to see your name.
But don’t just limit yourself to sports. If there is a local theatre, animal shelter, business, or school that is having an event, sponsor them as well. The arts are always underfunded, and many people who are involved will patronize your company if they see you supporting an arts program. When you sponsor ask to have them distribute your postcards or allow you to have a informational booth at the event.
Be genuine and do what fits your clinic
Getting your name into public knowledge doesn’t have to be a grand opening with a DJ, dancing men, and flashing lights. Instead, take some time to really show that you care about a community and the people in it. The best approach is to monopolize on the young families that will be your patients for at least eighteen years.
Most of all, make sure you are genuine when you help out or sponsor and event. It is for publicity, but you have to have something in you that wants to do it. Nothing is worse than someone who does good for themselves and not for the good of others. Make sure you keep it up as well. Don’t just stop helping out the community because you have a large number of patients.
Keep in mind the most important thing is consistency, try a bunch and see what your team enjoys and what effects it might have. Once you have some you feel is a fit with your clinic, keep on doing it. Once a families sees you several times at sports or local community events then they start to feel trust and can recall your clinic which is what you want next time they need a family dentist.
Sharky founded DentistFind.com, a marketing system to help dental clinics increase patient flow consistently and at a lower cost. You can find his latest business tips on his business blog Business Tool Reviews. While not working on your online sites he is creating art for the clothing line Juzd streetwear.