Posted on October 12, 2018
Build it and they will come.
About the only time this logic applies is when it comes to your marketing plan. With 2018 coming to a close, it’s time to take stock on 2018 and begin future planning. As busy orthodontic entrepreneurs, you may find yourself in an activity trap. Moving from tactic to tactic, without a real understanding of what’s working. A well-thought-out marketing plan can help keep your practice on track.
Key Plan Components:
Markets for orthodontic services are becoming saturated. Practices need every advantage they can to stay ahead of the game. Resist the urge to rely solely on your opinion and anecdotal evidence. Instead, take the time to research and plan. The more accurately you can locate a target’s bullseye, the more likely you are to hit it straight on. This post is going to focus on identifying your target, as it’s a crucial first step in marketing plan development.
Market to Who Matters.
You see a portion of your patient base every day, so you probably think you have a good sense of who your patients are. But how well do you really know them? The answer matters, because if you don’t know them all that well, the money and effort you spend on your marketing could very well be wasted.
If you’ve never taken the time to formally identify your patient base and quantify various aspects about them, you almost certainly don’t know them as well as you could. Second, keep in mind that the characteristics of your current patient base does not necessarily overlap with the characteristics of your ideal target market. You could be marketing to the former, but in order to grow your practice into what you want it to become, you might need to market to the latter.
I’ll admit that it’s not necessarily quick or easy to quantify your current patient base or your target market. That’s not to say that it isn’t worthwhile. Marketing campaigns supported by research and strategic thinking about whom you’re trying to reach have a much greater chance of being successful. Otherwise, you may spend time churning out marketing messages that are so generic, they appeal to no one in particular.
From solid research, you’ll be able know which messages and visuals to include in campaigns and which marketing tactics to use. You’ll also be able to be more selective about your marketing budget.
To identify, understand, and reach your target market, follow these steps:
1. Develop a profile of your current patients’ demographics
Your practice already has good information on your current patient base from your practice management software. Start by running reports and looking at those. Gather more information by setting up an online survey with a platform like Survey Monkey, Formstack, or Google Forms. Put up a link on your Facebook page to gather responses, but to encourage high levels of participation, your staff could have the survey ready to go on a tablet for patients to fill it out while in the waiting room.
Ask for demographic information such as gender, age, education, employment, household income, race, and number of children in the household. You can also supplement and crosscheck info with publicly available U.S. Census data about your community.
2. Add in psychographics
Psychographics relate to people’s beliefs and behavior. What do you like to do in your spare time? Where do you shop? What age would you consider seeking orthodontic treatment for your children? What social media do you use, and which websites do you visit? How often do you go to local high school sporting events?
Include questions relating to psychographics in your survey, and you’ll learn a lot about the best ways to reach your audiences and where to place marketing campaigns. You can also post questions on Facebook or local parenting blogs. Sales reps often have good psychographic data they’d be willing to share with you.
3. Develop profiles or personas
OK, now it’s crunch time. Put the data you’ve gathered into a spreadsheet for analysis. Seeing all the data laid out will give you a clear idea of your current patient base, who they are and what matters to them. Are they also the people you want to be targeting? Develop specific profiles for your current core consumer as well as primary and secondary targets.
Even better, develop personas. Personas bring that research to life to allow you and your team to make more effective decisions. So instead of developing marketing to target mothers aged 35-42 with household incomes of $50,000 – $65,000, develop marketing to target Mary. Mary would be a fictional character you made up that personifies your data. For example, she has two kids aged 6 and 11, works part-time as a school administrator, and checks Facebook five times a day on her old-model iPhone. All this, of course, would be supported by research. For more information on persona development, look for blogs or marketing books on the topic.
If you are ready to develop a 2019 marketing strategy for your practice, OrthoSynetics has a team of marketing experts that can develop a plan based on your unique goals. Reach out to us today to get started.