Each day this week, I’m discussing one new marketing topic that will better position your practice for success considering everything that is happening around us right now.

All of these are low cost or no cost initiatives. And they are all things that you can do, on your own, as a way to make the most of this new situation you are in. Trust me, you want to be doing this stuff….and doing it now….because your competitors are going to be doing it….and if you don’t….you’re going to get left behind.

Yesterday, we covered Virtual Consults as our topic of the day. If you haven’t already read that message, I highly encourage you to do so. It’s one of the most critical things you should be doing RIGHT NOW to keep your practice going during this extremely challenging time.

Today, we are going to turn our attention to something you can also be doing right now to ensure you’re ahead of the curve (and ahead of your competition) when things eventually do open back up and return to “normal”.

Today’s topic:  In-House Membership Plans

Let me start by saying….there are several important steps that you need to be taking right now….whether you already have an in-house membership plan, or not. I’m going to start by assuming you don’t have one….and then give guidance that applies even if you do have one (because, sadly, the vast majority of offices out there are not marketing their membership plans to full potential….or really anything close to it).

For those unfamiliar, an in-house membership plan is essentially a loyalty program offered by your office to patients who are without traditional dental benefits. In exchange for an annual membership fee (e.g. $399), the patient receives all of his or her preventative care (e.g. cleanings, exams, x-rays) at no additional cost throughout the year, and usually also receives additional discounts (e.g. 10%) on all other treatments and services.

I am a HUGE fan of these programs! They are completely a win-win proposition for both the patient and the office. Offices with these plans almost always see increases in patient retention, patient referrals, treatment acceptance, patient engagement, patient health, and, of course, overall office production. Not to mention that these plans are new patient magnets when properly marketed!

And the demand for these plans is only going to increase over the next several months as unemployment and loss of traditional dental benefits skyrockets given the current macro-economic environment.

Now, for those of you who already have an in-house plan…..don’t think you’re off the hook!  🙂

In addition to simply offering this to your existing patient base, you need to be super aggressive in leveraging your plan to go out and attract new patients to your practice.

If you’re working with a third-party platform provider (like a Kleer or Smile Advantage – not endorsements, just giving examples), then you’re probably overly focused on converting existing patients, and not nearly focused enough on getting new patients. There’s nothing wrong in converting your existing patient base. By all means, you should do that. But, unfortunately, the third-party providers out there (who do a good job in helping you administer these plans) also fall pretty short when it comes to new patient marketing support. I’m not trying to be critical. it’s just the reality of the situation.

So, here’s your call to action:

If you don’t already have an in-house membership plan, then you need to get one put together….and quickly! There are plenty of companies out there who can help support you in this endeavor and administer the program infrastructure on your behalf. But you don’t necessarily need them. I’ve worked with plenty of offices who have put these together on their own, and I’ve helped plenty of offices build them up from scratch and execute them too. It’s just simply a preference in terms of which way you want to go. There are trade-offs with both routes. Either way, in-house membership plans are no longer optional. If you want to succeed and continuing growing your practice in today’s competitive environment, these plans are a necessity.

If you already have an in-house membership plan, then you need to start thinking about how to leverage it for greater new patient growth. And I’m talking about a whole lot more than a little pop-up window on your website and some generic Facebook posts. You need a comprehensive marketing campaign that incorporates multiple avenues of digital communications, direct community marketing and outreach to targeted customer segments, and a coordinated internal marketing function that leverages your existing patient base to drive referrals. It’s not hard, but it does require some strategic thinking.

Here’s the bottom line. Wherever you’re currently at with your membership plan, there is a massive opportunity that is about to explode in terms of new demand.

Don’t get left behind! Get out in front and lead the way. It’s not just good business. It’s good patient care!

About Kent Sears

About Kent Sears

Kent provides over 15 years experience in consulting and marketing strategy. His work has spanned the globe, in both public and private sector, with leading companies such as Microsoft and T-Mobile. He brings his corporate experience to help private practice dentists realize their full business potential through more effective marketing strategies to stay competitive in the rapidly changing world of marketing and healthcare.