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By Cyrus Alizadeh, DDS

We are all looking for the secret recipe that will drive patients in droves into our practices. As you already know, there is no top-secret trick for securing new patients. However, there are simple tips and philosophies that can help increase how patients discover you and your practice, particularly local teens and adults. Outlined below is what we, at Alizadeh & Schreiner Orthodontics, consider the top three ways you can simply and effectively increase practice awareness. However, a great deal of care is involved from the get-go. Attending to patients and providing a high level of service are fundamental in order for any marketing or PR tactics to effect growth.

Positive Word of Mouth Marketing is Key

In our practice experience, word of mouth marketing is still the leading influence on new patient starts. When asked, “How did you hear about our practice?” many new patients report that a friend, co-worker, or family member offered a recommendation. As consumers, we often rely on feedback from our social network to decide what movies to see, TV shows to check out, and restaurants to try. The same goes for individuals seeking treatment. When past patients share glowing endorsements for you and your staff, it has an immediate impact.

Leverage the Internet

Ten years ago, there was a lack of understanding about how the Internet would influence practice growth. Today, it’s undeniable. The Internet is a powerful tool that cannot be ignored in your quest to attract more patients. Start small and leverage existing tools to help reinforce your practice brand and public perception. Don’t overlook the support that your appliance manufacturers are offering. For example, we utilize the Damon Doctor Locator offered through Ormco’s Damon® System website. When patients are looking for a Damon System doctor in the Missouri area, our name is delivered to them, which has significantly helped us get more patients through our doors. Typically, signing up to be part of a manufacturer referral system is easy and can be facilitated directly through your rep or online.

Build Referral Relationships

OK, here is the big secret: Dedicate time, or even a practice rep, to building relationships with the dentists in your local area. Develop contacts at dental practices and keep them in the loop with marketing information, and position yourself (and your practice) as a resource. This requires time but drives expert referrals your way.

As you start reviewing your 2013 figures and setting growth goals for 2014, take a look at where you could focus additional energy to help boost your number of incoming patients. It may be as simple as networking with general practitioners and tapping into existing web tools.

Cyrus Alizadeh Cyrus Alizadeh, DDS, earned a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, which is also where he completed his orthodontic residency. His practice, Alizadeh & Schreiner Orthodontics, is located in Chesterfield, Mo.