Use What You Have, and What’s Available. To Make a Bigger Impact With Your Markting
The concept of market segmentation has been a part of the marketing scene since long before the phrase was coined. Any time someone with something to sell (or say, for that matter), identified and spoke directly to “…a sub-set of a market made up of people or organizations with one or more characteristics that cause them to demand similar product and/or services based on qualities of those products such as price or function“* they employed a market segmentation strategy.
Now one might reasonably ask “Why should I bother with all this? Why don’t I just market to everyone in the area, and let them decide whether or not to join my practice?”
The main reason a business engages in market segmentation is that, when correctly conceived and implemented, it increases ones return on investment in marketing by either reducing marketing costs, increasing response, improving the suitability or ‘fit’ of patients with the practice, or all three.
In reality, marketing to everyone “in the area” is a form of market segmentation: it’s simply segmentation along geographic lines. In fact, because convenience continues to be an important factor in one’s decision to join a dental practice, it is actually more than merely geographically driven market segmentation. And, if the target audience is defined based on research such as traffic patterns and other available data, it also qualifies as segmentation based on demand characteristics. “People who live or work beyond 3 miles of our practice, or 9 miles, when our practice is located between their place of work and residence” is an example of a well thought out and soundly arrived at segmented target.
But you can do even better.
Now that we know the Why and Who, let’s discuss How & What
Knowing who are your ideal target(s) is the first necessary step toward an effective market segmentation strategy. Your next step is to confirm the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of identifying a given target audience. For instance:
You may wish to target people who are prone to, or are already experiencing obstructive sleep apnea. While such lists are available, they come with rather hefty minimum rental requirements, so the cost per lead may be prohibitive. You may, instead choose to acquire a list of people in your community who are male, over forty years of age, and overweight (yes, this list is available).
Effective identification of your target audience often requires “putting yourself in the shoes” of your target audience member. An increasing number of dentists want to promote restoration or placement of implants. Many are investing considerable sums optimizing their website for terms associated with implant dentistry (sometimes they also optimize simply for ‘implants’ understanding fully this might attract people desiring implants of a different sort: they do this because these people may be interested in ‘augmentation’ above the neck as well. But I digress).
One way we’ve found to increase your production for dental implants is by optimizing your website, and in other ways promoting denture services. Why? Because, as you already know, implants and implant supported dentures are often a superior alternative to dentures themselves, but your audience may not yet know this. Once they’re in your practice or, if your team is well versed in handling first-time telephone callers, even before the appointment, the prospective patient can be educated about this option. But that will never happen unless you choose to speak in a language your target audience understands and finds compelling.
This leads us to how to reach your chosen market segments.
Web landing pages can be created that speak to your chosen market segment e.g. www.DrGreenman.com/SleepBetter, and your paid search or search engine optimization campaigns can be structured so the page web visitors are sent to by search engines is determined by the search term or phrase they use. This ensures your website ‘speaks’ to their concerns and desires immediately, which is more effective than their landing on your home page and trying to find what they are looking for.
Your practice management software and the existence of variable, sometimes termed, on- demand, print technology means you are able to cost-effectively tailor the message and offer of your print communications for each desired target audience. For instance, you can, in a single print run, create a distinct message and offer to: current patients, inactive patients, new residents, home owners, women aged 40+ and even more. How many people are in each group no longer matters because the print job is performed in a single run.
The Winning Equation
The days of ‘shot gun marketing’ are over. Technology now permits a laser beam approach to reaching your desired audiences with low cost precision. So take the time to identify your ideal target audiences, determine the most cost effective way to reach those audiences with a message and offer that ‘speaks’ to them, and consistently monitor the results. The payoff is a higher return on your marketing investment and, because your patients clearly understand what you are offering ahead of time, greater case acceptance. Sound good?