Private treatments, such as cosmetic and preventive, are fairly straightforward to promote. But what if you’re an NHS provider trying to meet your UDA targets?
Marketing for required treatment may appear challenging…
NHS Units of Dental Activity are already contentious for rewarding restorative rather than preventive treatment. And tricky from a marketing perspective, because prevention can be scheduled and budgeted for in advance, but not so for urgent treatments and restorations.
Patients don’t typically walk around for months with tooth pain and then, seeing a shiny dental advert, suddenly decide to have a filling. A more common scenario is that a patient’s tooth hurts and they hurriedly search for a dentist to treat it. From your perspective, this means focussing your marketing efforts on being the one they choose.
Focus on your unique selling point (USP)
So how would this strategy look? First of all, you need to think about what you provide as a practice that your competitors either don’t offer or don’t market effectively. Remember, if five local surgeries all offer weekend appointments but only one advertises them, then as far as prospective patients are concerned they’re the only one that does. As the old saying goes, a tree that falls in an empty wood makes no noise.
Your USP now takes the spotlight, whether it’s your outstanding qualifications and experience in a given field or the fact that you’re a modern practice using the latest technologies. Convenience factors, such as extended opening hours and online booking are a huge advantage, as are accessibility aids such as free parking and wheelchair ramps. If you speak a foreign language that’s in demand in your area – then now’s the time to shout it out – on social media, in local print advertising and on your website.
Let your website reel them in
And, speaking of your website, you’ll want to make sure that when a prospective patient types their search query into Google, your practice is at the top of the results list. In order to do that, you need to have a website that is optimised for search engines, meaning careful attention has been paid to the form and content to ensure it ticks all the boxes that search engine algorithms are looking for.
For example, in terms of form, websites that are responsive, meaning they adjust automatically to the device on which they’re being viewed, will rank higher than static sites designed only to be viewed on a desktop. Other things to bear in mind are file size of images, as slow-to-load sites will not only rank lower but also deter viewers, as will the use of Flash, which is incompatible with many mobile devices. Content must also be carefully written to be relevant, unique and keyword-rich without being ‘spammy’.
In summary, marketing to meet your UDA target is challenging, but by no means impossible if you stick to the right strategy. Get busy or get help from the marketing team at Milkshake!
(A version of this article was previously published in The Probe, January 2017 edition.)