Donna Hall speaks to Digimax Founder Shaz Memon about the change in dental marketing over the past year and offers from some tips for practices…
Donna: What changes did you see in the way practices marketed themselves following the pandemic?
Shaz: The dental community reacted quickly by embracing all things virtual. Practices started integrating remote digital consultations into their workflow and marketing in a way to keep operating. I believe this move to a more accessible virtual environment is going to remain active long after the pandemic is over.
I also saw a remarkable shift by practices that were previously uneasy about embracing digital change, but were now diving deep into social media advertising and search engine optimisation.
There has been a clear focus on communicating better with patients in 2020, and practices have had a chance to renew their entire patient journey to adapt to the new times they’re practising in.
Donna: Do you have any examples of good and not so good marketing practises from the dental community in 2020?
Shaz: The good things I saw were practices using social media to help patients, even those from other practices, manage their oral health and emergency care, with things like support and advice on managing toothache at home.
When practice doors were able to re-open, it was evident that this support turned out to be a great marketing drive in recruiting patients who felt more connected with those practices which had used this time to share advice.
In the first weeks of lockdown, I saw some practices promoting their services as if nothing had changed and the country was not in crisis. This for me was insensitive as I feel businesses had a chance to shine and show they are more than a capitalist enterprise. Although this is said within the context that, unsurprisingly, the first lockdown left business in the United Kingdom confused as to how to move forward; should they just put everything on hold, including their marketing, or should they carry on as usual with their marketing in preparation for when they open?
For me, those practice who faired the best social marketing wise where those using social platforms to post about solidarity, advice, tips, community and embracing change
During the lockdowns, the public have re-wired their connection to businesses. Some have built relationships with companies that they would have never done so otherwise, while some have dropped relationships with businesses that have failed to keep in touch at all.
Donna: What lessons do you think can be learned from this in terms of where practices should be focusing their marketing resources in 2021?
Shaz: According to Ofcom adults were using the internet for four hours a day in 2020, higher than they were in previous years and people of all ages have self-educated themselves in better understanding online platforms.
There has been a marked rise in the amount of people who use social media and the internet in the last year, and it’s certainly the one place where a good proportion of marketing resource should be allocated.
Donna: What three things do you recommend practices should be doing with their marketing this year, and why?
Shaz: My absolute top three would be:
Practices investing in an organic Instagram presence are seeing a steady flow of the type of patients they want to attract as a result of their efforts on the platform.
- Search Engine Optimisation
The amount of searches into topics involving dental/domestic have gone up. People have been looking at themselves a lot during lockdown, on video calls, etc, and they’re ready to make changes to their appearance. Your patients are searching for you more than they were before the pandemic, and you can build on that.
This is something not many people talk about, but I think practices should be holding webinars for their patients. This active face-time allows you to build rapport and comfort with your patients and is a great way for you to nurture relationships.
Topics can be selected and planned in advance so that webinars can be distributed throughout the year. Webinar recordings can then be made available through your website, providing more great content that allows you to connect with new and existing patients.
Donna: Shaz, thank you for sharing your advice, which I’m sure will help practices to improve their marketing.