Introduction to Niche Marketing
The concept of niche marketing has a number of advantages for dental practices. The niche approach can help differentiate your practice from your local competitors, but it can also help you achieve greater profit margins in the short-term and establish a longer-term strategy for future growth. strategic path given certain conditions in your local market.
About this Guide
Using this guide, dentists and dental office staff will learn general concepts of niche marketing; why this is important for dental practices; how to choose a profitable niche for your practice; how to best market your practice’s niche and discuss real-world examples of dental practice niches.
What is a Marketing Niche?
Simply defined, a niche is a smaller subset of a larger market. A marketing niche is a strategic focus of a specific specialization to a smaller market. Businesses can solely focus on one single niche, or in some cases, establish multiple niches.
Types of Dental Practice Niches
There are many different dental practice niches you can consider based on your own market opportunity and capabilities. Here is a short list of dental practice niches:
Why Choose a Dental Niche
There are a few business-based reasons for choosing a niche for your dental practice.
Level of Competition
For dental practices operating in an increasingly competitive landscape watching profits dwindle year-on-year, or perhaps even month-on-month, carving out a particular segment of the market could be a means of survival. Stop competing to perform the same procedures for the same audience, not only do you run the risk of commoditizing your service, but your practice might also be left having to compete on price and/or other means to gain patients.
Chances are, if your local market can bear a number of dental offices, that’s probably because of the sizable population that exists in that area with adequate need. It’s business 101, you go where the business is. Consider cornering the market, and dominating, the majority of a smaller market from
Shifting Market Demographics
Alternatively, if your practice is operating in a shifting market, wherein the population is aging or perhaps morphing into one with a larger family dynamic, opting for the right niche can help you secure a larger share of business. If there are more profitable, specialized dental procedures you can perform, and adequate demand to meet that need, establishing a reputation in this area can serve your practice well.
An example is a dentist offering CAD CAM procedures for those aged 40-60, who are not in-market for dentures, but likely need bridges or crowns either crafted or existing ones replaced.
Amplify an Expertise
Do you or other dentists on staff at your practice have a particular procedure in which you excel or have a level of expertise? If so, leveraging this expertise to differentiate your practice amongst competitors can help you capitalize and corner the market for those procedures. Doing so can also help streamline your marketing and communications efforts around this particular niche, saving you both time and dollars on a more concentrated focus.
Benefits of Choosing a Niche for Your Dental Practice
General dental practices are plentiful, and while it is likely patients can get a number of procedures done under one roof, for the dentists, it can become tricky to stand out when everyone is offering the same types of service. However, establishing your practice as a specialist for laser dentistry when others are not, allows you to position your dental practice in such a way that differentiates you from other local dentists.
Obtain a Greater Level of Expertise
Like with any area of study or skill, the more narrow your focus, the easier it is to enhance your level of understanding and achieve a greater level of mastery, sometimes in a shorter period of time. As with the prior example, a dentist exposed to four or five laser dental patients in a day garners more experience and on-the-job know-how compared to the dentist seeing four to five laser dental patients in a month.
More Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Continuing with the above example, the laser dental niche dentist is also building an increasingly larger docket of patient references out in the community who can speak to this dentist’s abilities. Having this many advocates, whether encouraged through a formal patient referral program or not, not only increases an awareness level amongst those in the area for this dentist as the “go-to,” but also the distinct advantage of trust that comes with the first-hand experiences of actual patients. This is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, and one that general dentists can find challenging to compete with.
In addition to the word-of-mouth groundswell created by the laser dental niche in the example, incorporating this into other marketing and communications channels will not only further reinforce and amplify the message, but also help the practice stand out in the community, both online and offline, as the dental practice excelling in this area when compared to other generalists without this clear of a focus.
Increased Profit Margins
The opportunity for a dental practice that is the “go-to” for laser procedures by establishing an expertise and incorporating it into it’s messaging will help the practice achieve a larger share of the local market for a more expensive and highly specialized procedure for a lower advertising cost over the course of time. The combination of lower costs and a growing number of patients will help achieve better margins. This growth can open up the possibility of hiring more dental experts, allowing for the opportunity to expand into, and dominate more niches and achieve greater profits.
How to Choose a Dental Marketing Niche
The determination how to choose a particular marketing niche is strategic, and is based on a few fundamental principles:
1) market opportunity (audience and competitive landscape);
2) business capabilities.
Begin with an analysis of your market opportunity, which refers to the size and make-up of your addressable audience and your competitive landscape. The second factor is that of what types of dental procedures you and your team are capable of performing well.
Can you benefit from positioning your dental practice as the go-to expert and local market leader for a particular procedure or use-case? As an example, you may want to consider restorative dentistry rather than cosmetic dentistry given if a vast majority of individuals within your market are aged 40-50.
Next, consider the abilities of you and your staff. As referenced in the example above, a core competency and a proven track record of performing restorative dental procedures will provide you with a solid foundation from which you can position your practice as the local go-to expert.
Once you’ve established your dental practice niche, be sure and incorporate it into your marketing communication channels where possible, including, but not limited to your website and other external and internal touchpoints. This is important as word-of-mouth and patient referrals are certainly helpful to communicate your expertise among your addressable audience, they are not as scalable and discoverable as your website, social media and other messaging platforms.
How to Market Your Dental Niche
Update Your Website
Start by updating your dental practice’s website. Consider adding text to your homepage that speaks to your particular niche(s). Also, try to develop a separate web page that speaks to the procedure in greater detail, including any and all special qualifications/certifications as well as information on how many of these niche procedures your practice has performed as well as any state-of-the-art technology or tools your practice utilizes as part of the procedure.
Spread the Word on Social
It goes without saying, crafting social media posts about your niche are an easy way to inform your followers. Try to think about different creative ways to share a niche-related update such as, featuring a question and answer about the procedure, highlight a customer testimonial, communicate a specific benefit of the procedure along with the more direct, “get a free consult,” or “book your appointment, today!”
Educate Through Email
Email is one of the most effective means of communicating directly to your customers or prospects. Much like your social media posts, try to educate and inform your email recipients before pushing a hard “sale.”
A good practice to follow would be to think about a three of four message sequence where each individual email in the sequence includes a specific content tied to a different goal, wherein your initial message informs the audience of the procedure and explains more about it, the second highlights benefits and includes a happy patient quote, a third message provides some FAQs and answers with an option to call the office with other questions, and the fourth message offers recipients the opportunity to request a free consultation.
Regardless of the approach you choose to employ, respect your audience’s inbox by keeping your marketing or sales-oriented email communications to a manageable level. We suggest distributing no more than two marketing emails in any single month.
Leverage Your Patients
Your patients, whether new or long-standing, are vital to marketing your dental practice niche.
Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful forms of marketing, regardless of industry or business use-case. For years, studies have shown how much more likely prospects convert into customers when referred or influenced by a family member, friend, colleague or other trusted connection.
In addition, scalability is inherently built into the growing social proof. Your local reputation as the leader in your dental practice niche will build as you continue to perform more procedures and acquire more patient advocates endorsing your skills. The continuous cycle helps fuel momentum for more patients and can further affirm your position as the “go-to” practice for your particular dental niche.
Taking full advantage of your dental practice patient list with the goal of converting them into your advocates takes some work. Providing excellent care is paramount, and serves as the foundation. Next, the in-office experience should be as pleasant and pain-free as possible. This includes check-in processes, appearance and comfort of waiting rooms and professionalism and courteousness of staff. Lastly, in addition to the pre-appointment reminder email, phone call or text messages, consider asking your patient for an online review before they leave and/or invite them to participate in a referral program via a post-appointment email.
Don’t Forget Google
Did you know Google allows you to add up to 10 additional ‘sub categories’ to your Google My Business business profile? Be sure and take advantage and include your niche procedures here. If you don’t see your particular niche in the pre-populated options, you can simply manually add to your list. This will help increase the chances for your business’ profile to show up in search engine results when local individuals are looking online.
Expand Your Expertise
After completing the aforementioned basic website updates, your website’s blog serves as a forum for you to share more specific and detailed information to help educate your audience on your particular procedural niche(s).
Publishing your own, original and unique blog articles will not only inform your readers, but also demonstrate your expertise and position you as a thought leader and local authority on your niche. Plus, the links to each and every individual blog can also be used across social media and over email to help save you time when searching for content to share, but also help ensure your thoughts and insights reach the desired audience.
Examples of Dental Practice Niches
Let’s examine two different scenarios that can apply to dental practices on both sides of the spectrum.
Our first scenario, a dental practice based in a rural area might span a total population of one thousand individuals aged 18-65 with only one competitor in a 20-mile radius. A second scenario features a dental practice based in a densely populated urban area with a serviceable market of ten thousand individuals aged 18-65 with a dozen competitors all within a half-mile radius.
The rural example might appear far easier of an environment to operate given the lack of competition within the market. However, what if an examination of the addressable market showed the vast majority of the population are families with multiple children. Given this, a practice specializing in pediatric dentistry could be well positioned to earn a greater share of the overall business due to the strength and ability of word-of-mouth marketing to shape people’s decisions in such a small, closer-knit market.
In examining the urban market example, the advantage of a larger serviceable market is negated by the increased competition. In these circumstances, generalists offering a more commoditized service might be left to convenience factors (proximity and availability) influencing a patient’s decision. Whereas patients may be more willing to forgo potential inconveniences in order to book a procedure at a practice well-known as the go-to cosmetic dentist in the area.
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