25 Jun 2020  •  Blog, Covid-19, Practice Management  •  4min read By  • Gary Nelson

How the long tail can help you reach new patients

Lockdown was a frustrating experience for many on both a personal and professional level. It remains a difficult time for many, even as we begin easing back to normality.

Often, much of that frustration can be traced back to a feeling of not being in control of the situation.

Focusing on the factors that you can control – because there is always some – can go a long way to mitigating that frustration.

One of the things you can control, and which can help you to reach more potential patients and begin rebuilding your practice post-lockdown, is ‘the long tail’.

What is the long tail?

Let me explain the long tail in its simplest format. A simple enough story, but one of acquiring a new customer and one of how you can rebuild your practice with new customers.

A few weeks into the COVID-19 situation my father wanted to buy some fresh fish.

So here are nine key points of the story:

  1. Dad lives approximately 30 yards from the sea and 200 yards from the local harbour, but local boats were not allowed to go to sea.
  2. A Facebook friend of mine posted that she had just purchased fresh fish from a friendly local company ‘Something Fish’ through seeing them on Facebook and even left them a review on their page.
  3. ‘Something Fish’ is a local fresh fish delivery company operating in a 50-mile radius from my dad’s house.
  4. I saw the above and looked them up, I liked what I saw, I liked that they were able to help the local community, I liked that they were social. I told Dad by phone straight away.
  5. And you know what happened next… Dad called them and they delivered fresh fish. This turned social media communication into another medium – telephone communication.
  6. Dad is not on Facebook or Instagram.
  7. Dad called them and ordered fish.
  8. Dad has since purchased multiple times.
  9. Dad is now a customer!
The real consequences of being social

I’ve often heard dentists say ‘our patients aren’t on social media’, or ‘we don’t have many likes/followers’ etc. But the long tail of being social in this world is this:

  • It’s not just who likes your post that can become a customer
  • It’s not even who doesn’t like your post who can become a customer
  • It’s the long tail… being social can have far-reaching consequences in the real world beyond the platforms of Facebook or Instagram.

Dad may well have told his sister and any person he meets when out for his daily walk passing the harbour about ‘Something Fish’. Many of those people may not be on Facebook, but they may now become a new customer of ‘Something Fish’.

The work that you and your practice are doing right now on social media may well be far-reaching.

It may not be immediate in its visible results, but post-lockdown there will be a lot of new patients looking for a dentist and the long tail may well lead them to your door.

About Gary Nelson

Gary Nelson is an Area Manager with Practice Plan, the UK’s leading provider of practice-branded patient membership plans. Gary has successfully run his own business for ten years prior to joining the team at Practice Plan.

If you’re looking for more independence from the NHS or want to transform the profitability of your business through the combination of a well-populated plan and personalised support, call 01691 684165 or visit practiceplan.co.uk

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