Whether you run a high-end cosmetic clinic or a family dental practice, there are good reasons to target your marketing to women. By Daniel Warren
Everyone has teeth. Everyone has a mouth. While the services you offer are for everyone, your advertising and marketing should only address the person who makes the decision to book. For many practices, that means treating everyone, but marketing specifically to women.
There are a few good reasons to target women with your marketing, says Mark Brown, director of Engage Content (who provide marketing services to dental practices). Only one of those reasons is women have specific oral health challenges, which demand specific treatments.
“Changes to hormones through a woman’s life can expose them to tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss,” he explains, “and dentists already know that. But most reasons for marketing towards women are built around the notion of an ‘ideal client’. Your ideal client is the one who makes the decision about booking themselves, and possibly other family members, in to see you. That’s generally a woman aged between 35 and 55.” Take care of the woman’s teeth in the family—especially if she’s pregnant or has young children—and she’s far more likely to bring her children to you.
Get them in the door
It’s a given that one of the major reasons female patients will return to your practice is because you’re a good dentist. But for them to realise that, you need to get them through the door and into the chair.
“One of the easiest ways to reach women and tell them about your practice is through your website and social media,” Brown explains. “Central to that is content on your website—content which you then distribute to the world through Facebook, Instagram and Pintrest.”
Just buying ads that promote particular products and services won’t cut it, he says. “Where we see dentists making mistakes in this is in trying to think about what services they offer that women might want, then writing about those services. The classic example is cosmetic dentistry. It’s well-known that women are more likely to seek out cosmetic services. But if you write all about implants, veneers and whitening on your website, you might be missing the mark.”
However, addressing the problems they want to solve will get you more traffic from Google, more readers on your site, and ultimately more clients.
“That might involve writing a blog post on how to think about an ideal smile,” Brown adds. “Or for a non-cosmetic example, it may involve writing about pregnancy and oral health. Just don’t plug your services—show the same empathy you show when people are in the chair.”
Keep in mind that one of the key barriers to treatment for many women is cost. So a few posts about how and why your services are more affordable to them will go some way to influencing their decision to book.
The social trap
Although social media and online reviews seem a quick and easy fix for finding those elusive clients, Brown recommends against building your entire marketing strategy around them.
“Think of social media as a way of getting your message out, and drawing people back in to your website,” he says. “Even though it feels like that Instagram or Facebook audience is yours, in reality, it’s not. It’s theirs. And they can block your access to that audience any time they like.”
Just because someone has liked your Facebook page, it doesn’t follow that they’re going to see every Facebook update you post. You really need to buy access to those audiences through the social media sites—then make that investment work for you by getting the audience back to your website.
A welcome space
Once you’ve got someone through the front door of the practice, there are things you can do to make it feel more welcoming. Again, how you do this comes back to your ideal patient.
“If you’re targeting women with young families, your waiting room should reflect that,” says Brown. “Of course you keep it looking neat and clean—as should be the case with any medical practice—but having a play area for kids, or a games room for teens, helps clients realise yours is the practice for them.”
If you want to target clients looking for an expensive dental-spa-type treatment, then the waiting room should look luxurious.
It really comes down to thinking about your marketing as ‘helpful’ rather than ‘selling’, says Brown.
“Everyone likes to buy something, but no-one likes to be sold to,” he explains. “So use what you can control—starting with the content on your website—to help people.”
And the reason to be helpful to your female patients in particular is just that women are often the decision makers when it comes to family dental care. If your target market is families, it doesn’t follow that you have to address all your content to all members of the family. You primarily want it to be found by the person who is making the booking.