February is National Dental Health Month, which is an excellent time for orthodontic offices to connect with local dentists and the community. While a common school of thought is that National Orthodontic Health Month in October is the best time of year for orthodontists to promote their practice, National Dental Health Month also offers plenty of opportunities for orthodontic practices to spread the word about the benefits of orthodontic treatment and their particular practice.
Establishing Relationships with Dentists
It’s no secret that referrals account for a large portion of an orthodontist’s patient list. And while your satisfied patients are the most reliable referral source, dentist offices in your area are a close second.
Introduce yourself to dentists you are unfamiliar with by sending a signed letter. Include information about your practice’s differentiators, your education and experience, and the services you offer. Now is a great time to say you understand how important their professional reputation is and to reassure them it is safe with you. Offering a discount to the dentist’s family and staff and promising to reciprocate by sending patients to them before, during, and after orthodontic treatment can also encourage them to use your services.
Establishing a relationship with the dentist is only part of the referral equation. It’s also important to reach out to the staff members, since they have the most contact with patients throughout the day. Offer to bring in lunch for the team, or stop by with some goodies and swag, and be sure to include them on your holiday gift list.
Once a referred patient starts, send the dentist an update, including a photo of the smiling patient and a summary of their treatment plan. Continue to provide updates and ask for input throughout treatment.
Establishing Yourself in the Community
National Dental Health Month is the perfect reason to reach out to your community and promote your services. Schedule visits to your local elementary schools to educate kids and their parents about the benefits of early treatment. Do a fun talk to kids about the importance of taking care of their smiles, or read them a dental-related book if the group is small. Give away branded toothbrushes, pencils, coloring sheets, or other promotional items, and be sure to include a flyer or pamphlet with your services, hours, contact information, and reasons why a child should come to your office by age seven.
Offer to sponsor local events where parents or families will be present. Look for opportunities to set up a booth or tent, and offer free promotional items for people to take home. You want your future clients to use your product to increase the likelihood of them remembering and using your practice when the need arises. One great idea is to give away an on-the-go branded dental kit. Include a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and travel case with your practice name and phone number. Or be the booth with the branded reusable bags for people to carry everything else they pick up at the event.
Speaking of swag, make the giveaway process fun by setting up a game to win prizes. A time-tested favorite is a custom dry erase spin wheel. You can make your booth a fun hotspot by offering festival-goers a chance to win a prize by spinning the wheel. With a customizable dry-erase feature for each of the spots, you can offer opportunities to win bigger prizes, free orthodontic services, or even gift cards for local businesses. Have parents sign up with their contact info to give their kids a chance to spin, then add them to your email list to continue nurturing the relationship.
While digital marketing is the most talked-about type of promotion, introducing yourself in person to both dental professionals and the public during National Dental Health Month can go a long way in making your practice known in your community.