Today’s dental practice owner is faced with a number of challenges. You wear several hats as a business owner — an entrepreneur as well as a dentist or dental specialist. It is a real challenge to be all of these things at once, which can result in something slipping.
The area that slips is typically the execution of your marketing plan. The problem is this: without an effective marketing plan being executed consistently throughout the year, you will struggle to maintain a steady flow of new patient acquisitions and maybe even to retain the patients you already have.
There is an even bigger problem you face. Nowadays, even when you do all of the right things with your marketing plan — and stay on top of executing your plan — you will still struggle to grow your practice.
The main reason for this is that consumers (potential patients) are overloaded with information and give their attention to only the things that are important to them.
Your challenge is to get and keep their attention.
One of the most effective ways to capture and retain the attention of your audience is to appeal to the things they are interested in. In many cases, dentistry is not what they are interested in, even when they need it the most.
The reality is that people have passions — things they connect with on an emotional level. It is through these passions that you will find your most successful dental marketing campaigns. One type of passion is the support of social causes on either a global or a local level. Cause marketing is the way to align your dental practice with the causes being supported by the audience you are trying to reach.
What is Cause Marketing?
From Cause Marketing for Nonprofits, “cause marketing is a process that integrates value with values, connecting marketing objectives with societal needs.” Cause marketing occurs when a company and a nonprofit combine resources to achieve a common objective, as well as their own unique objectives.
For example, a company might donate money to a cause and, in return, get some exposure to the nonprofit’s audience. A nonprofit will form a partnership with a global or local brand to spread awareness of their cause and get the support they need to achieve their mission.
Why should you care?
We’ve already concluded that marketing your practice today is a lot harder than it was in the past. The problem is capturing and retaining people’s attention. With a good cause marketing campaign, you can reach people by aligning your marketing efforts with things they are passionate about. In essence, you are forming emotional connections to your audience while marketing the services of your dental practice.
From the Cause Marketing Forum, “64% of Americans are more inclined to support issues offline after first ‘liking’ or ‘following’ an organization online (for millennials, this number is 80%). 2014 Cone Communications Digital Activism Study” How about the fact that “91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given comparable price and quality. 2013 Cone Communications/ Echo Global CSR Study“?
These are just a sampling of the statistics regarding people’s desire to align with businesses that support the causes that matter to them.
How would this impact your dental practice?
The easiest way to illustrate this is by focusing on social media. We all know by now that social networks are busy places. People are there meeting, greeting, and hanging out.
Marketers from all walks of life have been working like crazy to find ways to connect with their audiences on social networks. One thing most businesses are missing, however, is that social networks — by their own definition — are “social.” This means that people who use social networks are there to participate in social activities more than they are to do business of any kind, including shopping for a dentist.
So, given that social networks are social, and you — along with many other businesses — would love to tap into them as a marketing resource, your best bet is to be social. Why? Because marketing — by its definition — is social. See where I’m headed?
What if we use the need to build a local brand as a way to illustrate the significance of cause marketing? You are a local business, so — by default — you need a local brand. Of course, you can build a brand around dentistry, but this is becoming extremely difficult as time goes on. One reason for this (beyond information overload) is that all dentists and dental practices look the same to most consumers.
Your job — if you are doing marketing right — is to build a brand that differentiates you from your competition. How does cause marketing help? Try to imagine that you become the “Dentist Who Gives” in your community. Can you start to see how cause marketing would help you develop your local brand?
Some Ideas to Get You Started
Stay tuned for more information on this topic coming soon. For now, here are a few ways you can leverage cause marketing to grow your practice by building a stronger connection to your community:
- Donate a portion of your revenue to a nonprofit or two in your community, and get on social networks to talk about it.
- Post stories on your Facebook page about the work nonprofits are doing in your community.
- Partner with other local businesses to provide educational seminars to local schools to help kids learn the importance of good dental hygiene.
- Have your staff do volunteer work in the community, such as handing out educational materials about dental hygiene at various events.
- Provide goodie bags with some dental hygiene tools and information at children-oriented events in your area.
I’m sure many of you already do good work for your community. The problem is that you are not making it part of your marketing efforts in a systematic way. You might already do some of the things listed above, but do you promote it, talk about it on your Facebook page, and have a web page on your website devoted to it?
There are a million ways to create and execute an effective cause marketing campaign. The key thing to remember — and the beauty of doing this type of marketing — is that while your business grows, so too does your ability to help people in need.
Vincent Messina is a valued consultant of MDPM Consulting. With a background in accounting and big business software, Vincent focuses on three industries (dentistry, accounting, and law) because he feels like it matters that he knows his clients’ businesses. Stay tuned for more information from Vincent, and learn more about him and his company, Otimo, here.