The end is not in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic. There are so many unknowns, and as of this writing on April 1, 2020, the daily increase in cases is continuing to climb. Even when we figure out how to beat the virus and return to a new normal in society, the economic impact of this pandemic that came on SO suddenly will be felt for years to come. We need to plan for how we will survive and recover from this crisis now so that we can be leaders and hit the ground running when offices are able to re-open for non-emergency care.
What History Teaches Us
If you could go back in time to the 2008 recession, what would you have done differently? In 2010, I still had offices telling me that they needed to pivot their messaging away from a “high end”, exclusively cosmetic practice to add more general dentistry to the mix. Do we need to do that for your practice? If so, here are some components that we need to update:
Social media content calendar
Ad targeting and focus
TMJ and Sleep More Resilient in Down Markets
If pivoting, even temporarily, to more general or family dentistry just isn’t something that you’re willing to do, we have seen that TMD and dental sleep treatment are more recession-proof areas of dentistry than cosmetic. There are groups like Pristine Medical Billing, SleepTest.com and others that can make sleep more scalable for you.
Teledentistry for Consults to Build New Patient Pipeline
Many of you are already using Smile Virtual, Smile Snap, or Doxy.Me to try to capture patients in need who want to interact with you in a space somewhere between phone call, email, and a face-to-face visit. Where this was a novelty before, it is becoming a necessity. If you aren’t using one of these tools, please check out the links above. Emergency patients may use them, and even patients that you cannot see right away will allow you to queue up patients to reach out to once the all-clear is sounded and you can see elective patients again. You can keep these leads warm with offers and email campaigns.
Launching Offers and Email Campaigns
We will need to be realistic about the fact that the markets we are reaching will be more cash-strapped, and that, coming out of this pandemic, their smiles may not be the first thing they look to invest in. We will need to cultivate interest and help bridge the gap between now, the time when we are in the heat of the pandemic and the day that will come, when people have more disposable income. We can do that by promoting some offers and through nurturing relationships via email and social campaigns.
Especially with the teledentistry leads that are generated now, we want to keep those warm, and we want to try to set the hook a bit. Using special offers, we can get people to pay upfront for services later. Using email marketing and social media, we can remind prospective patients that we are still here and that we have the solution to their dental problems.
Here are some offers to consider:
- $### for three hygiene appointments – Use these as new patient exams to build up more comprehensive care.
- $### off home sleep testing – Sleep testing can provide a diagnosis of moderate or severe sleep apnea, including a letter of medical necessity. That last word there is your key to going from elective care to necessary medical care that you can provide.
- $XXX off bite analysis and TMJ testing when you book before July 1 – We don’t know what the future holds, but if you want to create a sense of urgency for people to get on the books quickly after you are able to see non-emergency patients, offering a limited time discount can help get them in the door. You could even see them via teledentistry and discuss their pain level. If they are getting daily migraines, you could make the judgment call as to whether their pain level is such that the only humane thing to do was to see them in-office to discuss pain relief options.
Why Now? Why Not Wait?
We know that getting Google to respond to changes on websites almost always takes a lot of time. By updating your strategy now, you can build up momentum on this new, temporary plan while you are still down, in hopes that, when you are able to re-open at full capacity, you’ll have a mature strategy rather than scrambling to assemble it rather than enjoying its fruit.
But What About Patient Quality?
It’s possible that none of these offers are right for you. It’s possible that you’ve been able to weather the storm better than most and that you can tolerate lower new patient numbers for a while. But if you’re looking at a future where you may be starved for patients, patient quality may be something that you have to compromise on for a time in the interest of practice stability. If these offers aren’t attractive, let’s hop on a call to brainstorm what type of offer would be palatable and yet still powerful enough to get patients to say ‘Yes’ when times are still uncertain.
If you do feel that pivoting on your message and practice focus is necessary (even temporarily), please call your account manager today at (970) 672-1212.