Spreading the word

Toks Oyegunle continues his series into part 4 with a look at the best media to use to get your message across

Feb_2016_PM_600x300_Oygunle

What exactly does the word media mean to you? A simple dictionary definition seems like a good starting point: “The means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines that reach or influence people widely.”

Please note the use of the word influence in the definition — this is critical, as the primary purpose of marketing is to influence the market to buy your services.

For the purpose of this article, I would like to propose a simple, broader definition of media that is particularly relevant to the profitable marketing of your dental practice. Consider this definition of media: any platform that enables you to effectively communicate your marketing message and positively influence your target market. Take a moment to reflect on this, and consider the many different platforms that you may use to communicate your marketing message and positively influence the market.

Different types of media

Within the context of the marketing-driven definition of media detailed earlier, it becomes obvious that media is pretty broad and covers many platforms, which may facilitate the ability to communicate your marketing message.

Review this brief overview of some of the different types of available media below. How many of them do you currently use as part of your ongoing marketing efforts? Are there any you think you can use in future?

  • Print media: books, directories, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, letters, brochures, billboards, posters
  • Broadcast media: television, radio
  • Electronic media: Internet (web-site/email/social media/blogs, etc.), telephone

The preceding classification and media types are not meant to be comprehensive — that is beyond the scope of this article. The list is simply meant to draw your attention to the broad array of media choices available to use for the profitable marketing of your practice.

The broad list of available media can quickly become overwhelming for many practice owners, leading to confusion in some cases and apathy in others. That is the wrong attitude to take with this; the fact is, you cannot possibly use all the media options available for a variety of reasons, including cost, suitability, and effectiveness among others. The right attitude to take regarding media is to ask, What is the right media for you to use for the profitable marketing of your practice?

The key point here is to understand how much choice you have and to be creative, effective, and profitable with your use of media …

Do not underestimate the importance of this question — understanding what media to use and why will provide you with invaluable information regarding where you should regularly advertise your practice. It is probably the most important question you can ask regarding your use of media. If you get the answers wrong, you will probably incur considerable advertising costs with relatively few results to show for them. I am sure some of you have already had this experience. On the other hand, if you get this right, you should soon see considerable growth in the sales of your services and products.

Target market

Based on this analysis, there is a need for you to fully understand and use the most efficient and effective media to communicate with your target market.

To help you understand what media you should be using for profitable marketing, here are some questions that need to be answered.

  1. Who are your perfect patients?

If you have been following this article series, you should now have a clear understanding of who your perfect patients are.Hopefully, you have a good understanding of the demographics and psychographics of the market you wish to attract. This is very important because it is this understanding that will enable you to answer the next question.

  1. What media do your perfect patients use?

You must understand the media consumption habits of your perfect patients: what TV shows do they watch? What radio stations do they listen to? What news-
papers and magazines do they read? Are they online regularly? What websites and blogs do they read?

You can get this information in a number of ways — the easiest being to simply ask your perfect patients what newspapers/magazines they would prefer to read while waiting in your reception area. If you have TV/radio, you may ask them what channels they prefer. Another way is to request this information during your regular customer satisfaction surveys, assuming you already do this as part of your marketing system.

  1. What media should you use?

Armed with a comprehensive list of your perfect patients’ preferred media choices, you must decide on a subset that is ideal for you to use in your marketing to them. It’s important to understand the different media used by your perfect patients; however, the real marketing benefit will be realized when you are able to identify and invest in the best media to communicate with your target market.

Some forms of media will be more suitable for you than others for different reasons. For example, your budget may be a limiting factor where the more expensive media is concerned. The attention span of your target market may also be an issue with other media.

Tracking results

What is the most appropriate and responsive media for you to use to communicate with your target market? Will this be an advertisement in the local paper, your website, or a direct mail letter sent to them at home? This will definitely depend on what type of service or product you are selling, and whom exactly you are selling it to, so how can you know what the best media is?

To know this, you will need to actively test and track the results from advertising in different forms of media during your marketing campaigns. Over time, these results will develop into a pattern that will help you understand what the best media for marketing your practice is.

One of the most understated forms of media, but one that is extremely powerful, is the tried and tested “word of mouth.” It can be used successfully on a regular basis if you have the right referral-generating systems in place.

You may want to consider this media form as a core part of your marketing strategy and invest accordingly in getting referrals from all your existing and new patients.

Another powerful media that is often overlooked is the simple newsletter; it is a form of media where you totally control the content and is one of the best patient retention strategies you may deploy for your practice.

Key platform

You need to think of media as a platform that will help you get into the mind of your market. Many dentists are trying different types of media these days, with mixed results. One of my local dentists recently put a massive billboard at the entrance to a local train and bus station; I thought it was a great idea, as the dentist also added the fact that the practice was just a few minutes’ walk away. Unfortunately, they made the classic mistake of excluding any call to action, making it difficult to motivate the market to act immediately, and for them to track the effectiveness of the advertisement.

Your target market
Work out who your target audience is:
• What TV shows do they watch?
• What radio stations do they listen to?
• What newspapers do they read?
• What magazines do they subscribe to?
• Are they online regularly?
• What websites and blogs do they read?

Other dentists are using radio advertisements to reach out to the market. The key point here is to understand how much choice you have and to be creative, effective, and profitable with your use of media for the marketing of your dental practice.

Toks Oyegunle is a leading business coach and an award-winning entrepreneur. The Harvard Business School alumnus is the founder of Thriving Practices: profitable marketing solutions; experience-based, technology driven.

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