The world of dentistry is getting more competitive every day. As more new dentists enter the field, your patients (and potential patients) have more options for their dental care. How can your practice compete? Start by learning from your competition.
By studying competing dental practices’ websites, marketing and advertising, social media profiles, and even how they answer the phone, you’ll gain valuable insights into what they do differently—and ideas that can help you improve your own marketing practices. Here are seven things you can do to learn from the competition.
1. Do an online search for dentists in your area. Which competitors come up in search results? Also search for dentists based on specialties or unique selling proposition (USP). For example, if you specialize in pediatric dentistry, search for “children’s dentist,” “dentist for kids,” and similar terms to see what practices come up in the results. You can also search for terms like “best dentist” or “highest rated dentist” to see which dentists are dominating online reviews.
Use the information you find to create a list of competitors and dig into their marketing methods as follows.
- What do their search results look like?
- Where do they fall on the search engine results page?
- How complete is their local search listing? (Are there photos of their practice, a detailed description, a link to their website, star ratings, etc.?) You’ll probably notice a correlation between the highest-ranking dental practices on the search engine results page and those with the most robust online presence.
2. Visit their websites. Since 72% of dental practices rely on their website to get new patients, it’s your most important marketing tool. When checking out your competitors’ websites, look for the following:
- Hours of operation
- Phone number
- Photos of dentists and staff
- List of accepted insurance plans
- Information about payments accepted
- Online appointment scheduling
- Useful content (blog, how-to videos, etc.)
- Social media icons/links
- Email signup
Then ask yourself:
- How easy is the website to navigate?
- Does it look current and up-to-date?
- Can you quickly find the most important information?
- How does the website load, look and perform on your tablet and smartphone?
- What do you think of the design, graphics and images?
3. Visit your competitors’ social media pages. Note:
- How frequently do they post?
- What types of content do they post (images, videos, surveys, contests, text, links to content, etc.)?
- Do they have a lot of followers? Are the followers highly engaged?
- Do they run social media ads, or just use organic posts?
(Get tips on improving your social media marketing.)
4. Read online reviews of your competitors and note:
- Do they have lots of reviews?
- Are the reviews current or are they old?
- What is their star rating?
- Do a lot of patients praise or criticize the same thing (for example, long wait times)? This can highlight areas where the competitor is weak and you might have an advantage.
5. Call the practice. Pretend to be a potential new patient and ask questions. Take note:
- How quickly do they answer the phone?
- Do you get a phone tree or voice mail, or a live person?
- What is the person’s tone of voice and attitude? How helpful are they?
- Do they know how to “sell” a new patient on coming in or are they just eager to get you off the phone?
- How quickly can you schedule an appointment? What if it’s an emergency?
- Can you fill out intake forms for your first appointment online, or do you have to do it in the office?
6. Make an appointment.
- How does the office confirm and remind you of your appointment (do they call you or send email, text, etc.?) According to a survey reported in Dental Practice Management, busier dental practices and those with higher revenues tend to be the heaviest users of email, text messages, and social media communication. Lower-revenue practices tend to focus on the phone instead of offering a variety of communication options.
- What happens if you cancel the appointment?
- How easy is it to reschedule?
7. Sign up for email newsletters/marketing emails. (You can set up an email address just for this purpose if you’re worried about being identified.) Note:
- How frequently do they send emails?
- What is the content?
- Do they send special offers or discounts?
- How professional-looking are the emails?
Once you’ve gathered all the information on your competitors, use it to pinpoint areas where your practice’s marketing efforts are falling short. Adopt the most successful marketing tactics of your competitors, and soon you’ll be ahead of the pack. (Here are some other ideas for attracting more patients—and, once you get them, for making a great first impression.)
Are you struggling with marketing your practice on your own? Just 11% of dental practices have a dedicated marketing coordinator. If you’re still trying to DIY, using a dental communication and marketing solution like Lighthouse 360 can take your marketing to the next level, save you time and help your practice make more money.