Over the years, we have found that dental internet marketing hinges on new patient specials. Yet with every new client that comes to our program, I spend countless hours working to get them on board with the notion that new patient specials are not just needed but critical to growing their business long-term. So I would like to take a minute to discuss some of the objections I listen to over and over again and how I’m likely to respond should you and I ever have this conversation in person.
Client: I really don’t want the kind of new patients that are shopping for a deal
Jessie: You must play to your audience! The vast majority of surfers online are shopping for a deal. This is the current trend in our internet based society. We have gone back to coupon clipping and deal hunting. Why pay more if you do not have to? The dental office down the street that you are competing with has new patient specials and accessible offers out on the web and in print. If a potential patient is looking at several offices online and all have great reviews and a good internet presence, why would they choose the office not offering a deal? After all, most people have a try-before-buy mentality as there is no guarantee that they will like the location, staff, or the dentist, so why not choose the business offering service at the least initial out of pocket expense?
Client: My hygienist makes 40+/hour, her time is expensive so I don’t want to offer a cleaning, exam & x-ray deal
Jessie: If you give no other offers for new patients, this is the one to give! I cannot stress this enough. Patients looking for a cleaning, exam and x-ray are dream patients that will be gold for you in the long run. The patients who are concerned about their dental health and are making it a continual priority are the patients who will opt to get a root canal and a crown immediately when the problem arises instead of letting the problem deteriorate until they are in pain and have no other choice but to come in and have the tooth extracted. Patients who are actively seeking a cleaning when they have no other underlying issues forcing them to seek out a dentist are the patients you want. Also, cleanings and exams are where you find that a patient may have issues they don’t know about and you’re able to schedule them for a return visit. Not only should you offer new patients a cleaning, exam and x-ray special, you should roll out the red carpet for them and congratulate them on being mindful of their dental health.
Client: You want me to offer too many specials, can’t we just have one new patient special?
Jessie: Again, you must play to your audience! A patient who just broke their denture does not care about a cleaning, exam and x-ray offer. The patient searching for Invisalign or Veneers is not interested in your Implant offer. We make it a point to have one “closing” offer and one follow up “treatment acceptance” offer for each and every major service your office is marketing. If you are running ads and ranking organically for lets say root canals, you absolutely must have a root canal offer and if you are running ads and ranking for the keyword implants you absolutely must have implant offers and so on.
Client: They just come in and take advantage of the deal and never come back…
Jessie: This answer may sound a little harsh and I will admit to saying this more diplomatically for our clients but the truth of the matter is that… “This is on you!” Our job is to get the potential patient through the door and the your job to make the experience one worth coming back for. In other words, you need to WOW them with your very best customer service and do whatever it takes to make them comfortable in your office. Then, as much as you may hate it, you must offer them a SECOND INCENTIVE to entice them back. Once you have them in the door with a low or no cost incentive for a consultation, you need to follow that up with an additional offer geared towards treatment acceptance. If they come in for an emergency consultation and you determine that they need an extraction, follow that up with an offer for a percentage off an implant. And make sure to provide the patient with payment plan options. Then and only then will you have cemented yourself as their long-term provider.
If you take nothing else from this read, please take this; The value of a new patient is not merely found in how much they spend during one visit. The value of a new patient that is inspired to become a returning loyal patient, who is committed to their oral health, is found over the potential years they are with you, the friends and family that they refer to your business, and the potential compounding effect of those referrals that lead to other referrals and so on.
Please keep in mind that with our front-loaded, incentive based approach immediate results are not always easy to see, but stick with it. I find that even after hours of discussion, some clients reluctantly agree to offer the incentives we require solely based upon the fact that they are foisted upon them as a condition of our guaranteed results. Over the course of the next several months, while these client adjust to the new way of doing business, we inevitably hear complaints, rebuttals, case studies and other myriad reasons our incentive based approach just isn’t working. These dentists are looking for ways to be right and so they tighten their grip and shine a spotlight on each and every new patient that comes to them and fits any earlier objection and parade those stories into my inbox, with an unspoken “I told you so!” And without fail, about 3-4 months down the line when patients are flooding in and the numbers game is playing out, I magically stop hearing those objections. By this time in the process we are getting so many awesome patients with the incentives that the occasional ‘dud’ doesn’t even factor in. And in truth, I often have clients who come back to me months down the road with their own great ideas for new and exciting incentives!