June 20, 2023

The Top Five Problems with Word-of-Mouth Marketing and How to Fix Them.

Navigating the world of private dental practice can be a challenging endeavour. While you may excel in providing top-notch dental care, the complexities of modern marketing can often seem overwhelming. 

Many practice owners find themselves grappling with a standard set of concerns, such as: attracting new patients and establishing a solid online presence, staying ahead of competitors, incentivising patient referrals, and understanding the intricacies of digital marketing. 

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These challenges often stem from an over-reliance on traditional word-of-mouth marketing, which, while valuable, has its limitations.

For example, you might think, "I'm limited to my existing network," or "I can't measure the success of word-of-mouth marketing." And you're not alone. Many dental practitioners share these concerns and are eager for a more comprehensive and effective marketing strategy.

In this article, we'll delve into the top five problems with word of mouth marketing for your private dental practice: being limited to your existing network, inability to control the narrative, lack of scalability, missing out on potential online clientele, and difficulty in measuring effectiveness.

But we won't stop at merely discussing the problems. 

We will also present modern marketing methods designed to address these pitfalls and help you reach your ultimate desires if they include either growing your patient base, establishing a robust online presence, perhaps outshining your competitors, fostering patient recommendations, and confidently navigating the world of digital marketing. 

Let's tackle these challenges head-on, transforming them from obstacles into opportunities for growth and success. Here are the top five problems of relying on word-of-mouth marketing for your private dental practice:

  1. "I'm limited to my existing network." One of the biggest pitfalls of relying on word-of-mouth marketing is that it is inherently limited to your existing network of patients. If the current patients aren't recommending your practice to others, this referral marketing method can quickly hit a wall, leaving your practice growth stagnant. 
  2. "I'm unable to control the narrative." Word-of-mouth relies heavily on the experiences and perceptions of your patients, which may only sometimes align with the brand image you wish to project. Unfortunately, this can lead to misinformation or mixed messages about your practice circulating in the community, which may affect your customer retention too.
  3. "It's not scalable." Word-of-mouth marketing can be a slow process and is only sometimes reliable. In addition, unlike digital marketing strategies, it's challenging to scale word-of-mouth efforts to reach a larger audience. This can limit the growth potential of your practice.
  4. "I'm missing out on potential online clientele." With the prevalence of digital platforms, prospective patients increasingly turn to online reviews and searches to find their next dentist. However, if you rely solely on word-of-mouth, you're missing out on a significant portion of the market that could be reached through online marketing strategies.
  5. "I can't measure its effectiveness." Word-of-mouth is challenging to track and measure. As a result, it's hard to know which happy customer is spreading the word about your practice, how far the message is reaching, and/or what negative review is impacting your patient growth. This lack of measurable data can make it challenging for marketing executives to understand the return on investment and to make informed decisions about their marketing efforts.

Let's dive in.

1. The Limitations of Your Existing Network and How to Overcome Them

As a private dental practice owner, you may often hear that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing. Indeed, personal recommendations after a customer's positive experience have always been a powerful way to raise brand awareness and attract new patients. However, you might have found yourself saying, "I'm limited to my existing network." If you've relied solely on word-of-mouth to grow your practice, you may have discovered that this approach has limits.

The central issue with depending solely on your current patients to attract new ones is that, like influencer marketing, it inherently restricts your reach to their networks. If your patients aren't actively referring others or their circles don't need dental services, you're left in a tight spot. The growth of your practice then becomes dependent on factors outside your control.

So, what's the solution?

The answer lies in expanding your marketing efforts beyond your current network, and one of the most effective ways to do this is by broadening your marketing strategy.

Digital marketing is a modern, powerful tool that can significantly broaden your reach. It includes search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, content marketing, and email marketing, amongst other strategies to find you a new customer. With digital marketing, you're no longer limited to the networks of your current patients—your marketing communication can reach out to potential patients far and wide.

Don't worry if you're saying, "I just don't understand digital marketing," you're not alone. Many dental practitioners need more depth regarding this complex field. However, understanding the basics can go a long way in helping you to appreciate its potential.

Let's start with SEO. This involves optimising your website to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). For example, when a new customer in your area searches for a "private dentist near me," you want your practice to be at the top of the list. SEO can help you achieve that.

On the other hand, PPC advertising is a form of online advertising where you pay each time a potential customer clicks on your ad. This can be a cost-effective way to reach people actively seeking dental services.

Social media marketing involves using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and LinkedIn to engage with current and potential patients. Regularly posting relevant, engaging content can help you build a solid online presence, attract new followers, and convert them into patients.

Content marketing, which includes blog posts, articles, videos, and infographics, can help you showcase your expertise, provide valuable information to prospective patients, and drive traffic to your website.

Finally, email marketing lets you stay in touch with your patients, provide excellent customer service. keep them informed about your practice, and encourage them to refer others.

These digital marketing strategies can work together to significantly expand your network, attracting more new patients than word-of-mouth alone could ever achieve. It may seem overwhelming, especially if you say, "I am too busy running my practice to focus on marketing." However, digital marketing can be outsourced to professionals who can manage it, leaving you free to focus on what you do best—providing excellent dental care.

To sum up, while word-of-mouth marketing has its place, relying solely on your existing network can stifle the growth of your practice. By embracing digital marketing, you can reach beyond your current patients, attract a wider audience, and take your practice to new heights. If you're eager to see more new patients coming through your doors, digital marketing could be the key.

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2. Taking Control of Your Practice's Narrative

It's no secret that word-of-mouth can be a powerful referral marketing tool for private dental practices. After all, a personal recommendation from a satisfied customer or family member can carry significant weight. However, if you've found yourself saying, "I'm unable to control the narrative," you've identified a substantial downside of relying too heavily on this method.

When you depend on word-of-mouth, you're handing over the reins of your marketing to your patients. 

While most will share positive experiences, there's always the risk of a negative review being magnified, potentially damaging your reputation. Moreover, the specific aspects of your practice that an existing customer may emphasise might not align with the messages you want to convey. As a result, the narrative can get diluted or twisted along the way, and this lack of control can leave you feeling helpless.

So, what can be done to regain control over your practice's narrative?

Enter online reputation management (ORM), a crucial aspect of digital marketing. ORM is all about taking control of the online conversation surrounding your practice. It involves monitoring and influencing your dental practice's reputation across digital channels.

If you're now thinking, "My online presence is virtually non-existent," or "I just don't understand digital marketing," don't fret. While ORM can seem daunting, a basic understanding can go a long way.

Online reputation management starts with creating a solid online presence. This includes a professional, user-friendly website and active profiles on relevant social media platforms and business directories. These platforms allow you to share your message directly with your target audience, controlling the narrative.

Next, encourage every satisfied customer to leave a positive review on platforms like Google My Business and Yelp. This helps to drown out negative comments and boosts your visibility in search results. Remember, prospective patients often research online reviews and customer feedback before choosing a new dentist, so positive testimonials can be a powerful driver of new business.

Managing your online reputation also involves responding to positive and negative feedback. For example, thanking patients for positive reviews demonstrates your appreciation, while responding professionally to negative comments shows you're committed to resolving issues. This can go a long way in building trust and maintaining a positive image.

If you're worried about the time commitment, consider this: ORM is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. It's about continuously engaging with your patients online, promoting your successes, and addressing concerns as they arise. So, yes, it requires effort, less so if you have a single system to deal with it, but maintaining a positive narrative about your practice is well worth the payoff.

If you're still thinking, "I am too busy running my practice to focus on marketing," remember that professional digital marketing and ORM services are available. These experts can handle the heavy lifting, allowing you to focus on providing the best dental care possible.

To recap, while word-of-mouth marketing can be beneficial, you need more control over your practice's narrative. By embracing online reputation management as part of your digital marketing strategy, you can guide the conversation about your practice, ensure your message reaches the right people, and ultimately attract more patients. Remember, taking control of the narrative is vital to your practice's reputation.

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3. Overcoming the Scalability Challenge of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

In private dental practices, word-of-mouth has often been heralded as a reliable method of attracting new patients. But have you ever thought, "It's not scalable"? 

If so, you're not alone. 

The inherent problem with word-of-mouth marketing is that its growth potential could be expanded. However, you can't directly control the number of referrals your patients make around customer satisfaction, and it's challenging to increase them systematically.

So, what's the solution to this scalability issue? The answer lies in embracing a more modern, scalable marketing method: Email marketing.

If you're thinking, "I just don't understand digital marketing," or "I'm unsure of the effectiveness of email marketing," rest assured, you're not alone. Many dental practice owners share these concerns. However, email marketing is a potent, scalable tool that can dramatically enhance your ability to reach and engage with current and potential patients as part of a marketing campaign.

Email marketing involves sending informative, engaging content directly to the inboxes of individuals interested in your practice. It might include newsletters, special offers, check-up reminders, and educational content about oral health. The beauty of email marketing is that once someone is on your email list, you can reach out to them at any time with any message you choose. 

But how does this solve the scalability issue?

Firstly, your email list can grow indefinitely, and reaching out to more people doesn't require significantly more effort or resources. The process is essentially the same whether you email 100 or 10,000 people. This starkly contrasts word-of-mouth marketing, where each additional referral requires a separate, individual effort.

Secondly, email marketing allows you to automate much of the process. For instance, you could set up a series of emails to welcome new subscribers, educate them about your services, and encourage them to book their first appointment and afterwards post an online review. Once set up, this process runs automatically for each new subscriber, saving you time and effort.

Thirdly, email marketing can support and enhance your other marketing efforts. For example, you can use it to direct traffic to your website or social media platforms, promote special offers, or encourage satisfied patients to post online reviews. This integrated approach can amplify your marketing impact and further improve scalability.

If you're now thinking, "I am too busy running my practice to focus on marketing," remember that email marketing, like other aspects of digital marketing, can be purchased as part of an integrated programme like TrafficTasks, where we can help design effective email campaigns, manage your email list, and continuously analyse the results to improve your efforts.

While word-of-mouth marketing has its merits, its lack of scalability can limit the growth of your practice. In contrast, email marketing offers a scalable solution for your small business that allows you to consistently and effectively reach a large audience of potential patients. So, if you're eager to see more new patients entering your doors and want a marketing strategy that grows with your practice, consider adding email marketing to your toolkit.

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4. Tapping into the Power of Online Clientele

In private dental practice, it can often feel like you're battling an uphill struggle. You might be providing top-quality dental care, but if your marketing efforts are limited to word-of-mouth, you may think, "I'm missing out on potential online clientele." 

And you're right. 

In today's digital age, your potential patients aren't just those who hear about you from friends or family; they are also the ones searching for dental services online.

So, how can you ensure your practice is visible to this vast pool of potential patients? The answer lies in a modern marketing method called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

If you're thinking, "I just don't understand digital marketing," or "SEO seems like a complex concept," you're not alone. Many dental practice owners find themselves in the same boat. 

However, a basic understanding of SEO can significantly boost your online visibility, helping you attract new patients.

SEO is a strategy to increase your website's visibility on search engines like Google. The goal is to appear as high as possible in search results when potential patients are looking for dental services in your area. 

But why is SEO the answer to the "missing out on potential online clientele" problem?

Firstly, the online space is where many of your potential patients are looking for positive feedback on dental services. They might be new to the area, looking for a specific dental treatment, or simply seeking a change from their current dentist. If your practice doesn't appear when they search online, you'll miss out on these potential patients.

Secondly, a well-implemented SEO strategy can help attract high-quality leads. By targeting specific keywords related to your services and location, you can ensure that your website attracts visitors who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer and are likely to become new patients.

Finally, SEO is a long-term strategy that can provide ongoing benefits. While it may take some time to start seeing results, once your website ranks higher in search results, it can lead to a steady stream of new patients.

If you're now thinking, "I am too busy running my practice to focus on SEO," remember that SEO, like other aspects of digital marketing, can be outsourced to professionals. They can conduct keyword research, optimise your website, and monitor results to ensure you get the best investment return.

So yes, word-of-mouth marketing can attract new patients, but it's essential to consider the vast potential of the online clientele. Implementing an effective SEO strategy can significantly increase your online visibility, helping you tap into this valuable pool of potential patients. SEO is the perfect solution if you're eager to see more new patients coming through your doors and want a marketing strategy that makes the most of the online space.

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5. Mastering the Measurement of Marketing Effectiveness

Word-of-mouth marketing has traditionally been a cornerstone of customer acquisition in private dental practices. However, one problem with this approach is the lack of tangible metrics to measure its effectiveness. You might think, "I can't measure the success of word-of-mouth marketing." And you're not wrong. The inherent nature of word-of-mouth marketing makes it difficult to track and quantify.

So, how can you fix this pitfall? The solution lies in adopting a modern marketing method that allows for scalability and control and offers measurable results: Social Media Marketing.

If you're thinking, "I don't understand digital marketing," or "social media seems too complicated," rest assured that you're not alone. Many dental practice owners find the world of social media marketing overwhelming. However, once you understand the basics, it can be an incredibly effective tool for growing your practice.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter offer a unique space to engage with existing and potential patients. You can share educational content, provide updates about your practice or customer experience, and even run promotional campaigns.

But how does social media marketing address the "I can't measure its effectiveness" issue?

Firstly, social media platforms offer robust analytics tools. These tools allow you to track various metrics, such as the number of likes, shares, comments and views your posts receive, the reach of your posts, and the growth of your followers over time. 

Secondly, when running paid advertising campaigns on social media, you can track conversions, such as the number of people who clicked on your ad and then booked an appointment. This gives you a clear idea of your return on investment.

Thirdly, by monitoring your social media posts' engagement, you can learn what type of content resonates with your audience. This can help you refine your marketing strategy over time to better meet the needs and interests of your patients.

If you're now thinking, "I'm too busy running my practice to manage social media," remember that social media marketing, like other digital marketing, can be outsourced or, as before, purchased as part of a marketing programme like TrafficTasks. 

We can manage your social media platforms, create and post engaging content, run advertising campaigns, and analyse the results to continuously improve your efforts.

In summary, while a word-of-mouth marketing strategy may seem like a low-effort method of attracting new patients, its lack of measurable results can leave you in the dark about its effectiveness. In contrast, social media marketing offers an attractive, scalable solution that provides precise, quantifiable results. If you're keen on growing your patient base and desire a marketing strategy with measurable outcomes, embracing social media marketing could be a game-changer.

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In Conclusion

Over the course of this article, we've explored the top five problems with word of mouth marketing for your private dental practice. We have identified and discussed the limitations of your existing network, the challenges of controlling the narrative, the scalability issue, the missed opportunities to reach online clientele, and the difficulty in measuring the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. 

But more importantly, we've also presented modern marketing methods that can help you overcome these pitfalls and turn them into opportunities for growth. From SEO and content marketing to social media and pay-per-click advertising, these strategies are designed to help you attract new patients, create a solid online presence, outshine your competitors, foster patient recommendations, and navigate the world of digital marketing with confidence.

The goal is to address your current challenges and help you unlock the potential revenue that may currently be untapped in your practice. To this end, we'd like to introduce you to our free Missed Revenue Quiz

Based on a three-year Harvard Business School Study and Best Marketing Practice, this quiz will show you how much revenue your practice may miss out on.

By answering just five critical questions about your practice, you can see the difference between your current revenue and the potential revenue you could be earning if you adopted our proven techniques.So why wait? Discover the potential of your private dental practice today by taking our free Missed Revenue Quiz at https://takethequiz.dental. It's time to turn these pitfalls into possibilities and unlock your practice's full potential.

So, what's next?

In case you're wondering what to do next, or perhaps how, we could help you with your own business, we've got just the thing.

Using data from a three year Harvard Business School study, and best marketing practice we created the Missed Revenue Quiz. In only five questions, using your existing enquiry data, we can show you how much money you could be leaving on the table.

Take the Quiz here: https://takethequiz.dental/

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