It’s no secret that inflation is currently at an all time high. As reported by Gaidge, inflation has hit a record 8.5% in 2022 (compared with 1.4% in 2020 and 2.3% in 2019).
Consumers are less likely to gamble with their money right now, and businesses are feeling the effects more than ever. Marketing your practice during a recession can be overwhelming, and at times, feel futile if you don’t adapt your strategies.
However, while the economy is uncertain, it’s not unprecedented. What goes up must come down. Now is not the time to pull back on marketing your practice. Now is the time to accept the state of the economy and pivot your approach to meet the needs of new patients.
Don’t be tone deaf to the world around you.
Your consumer from 2022 won’t be the same consumer in 2023. They will have different priorities, different spending power, and be of a much different mindset.
The first step to recession-proofing your practice is understanding the new needs of consumers. Even people who are not affected financially by the recession will be more prudent with their spending choices. Everyone is less likely to gamble with their money right now.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will be spending less money overall; it means they may spend more on a trusted, certain solution over a riskier alternative. Price point is not always the most important factor to some consumers, but perceived value often is a key factor.
Show your practice’s value.
Communicate your practice’s value to the market. Define your brand and value proposition to show consumers what they’ll gain from you, and what they’ll be missing out on if they take a risk on your competitor.
Cover all of your bases and solidify your practice as the right choice. This requires more than a “We’re the best” statement. New patients require proper proof and evidence to be comfortable signing a contract with you and giving you their hard earned dollars.
- Provide social proof. Think Google reviews and patient reviews.
- Provide case studies. Show before-and-after photos of WOW-worthy transformations.
- Provide evidence of your customer experience. What can your new patients expect from your team and your office?
Answer your consumers’ pain points.
Understand the realities of new patient exam trends and use these insights to guide your offerings. Recent statistics by Gaidge show that adult orthodontic exams are down by 9% between 2021 to 2022, new patient calls have decreased, and no-shows have increased.
However, new patient exams are up by 2.1% from 2021 to 2022, which means parents may be prioritizing their kids’ treatment more in 2022 than in 2021 while adults (perhaps no longer seeing themselves so often on Zoom) are watching their budgets.
To take steps toward balancing these numbers, practices could start marketing to adults more by navigating lower cost treatment options and not positioning their brand as luxury.
- Consider flexible payment plans and more financing options that work with the consumer.
- Consider splitting the down payment into a few separate payments to make them more manageable for the first few months and /or extending payment options past treatment time.
- Implement a new patient automation system to ensure that patients are being followed up with before and after their first visit to reduce no-shows.
- Offer virtual first visits and treatment options (like Dental Monitoring) and advertise these modern care options as a solution for fewer appointments, less money spent on gas, and greater convenience.
Don’t pull back now.
As the going gets tough, businesses are dropping out of the advertising arena left and right. This leaves greater opportunity for your practice to prevail and rise above the competition.
Consider the mere-exposure effect, which states that the more a person is exposed to something, the more likely they are to remember it and choose it moving forward. The more your consumers are exposed to your band, the more likely they are to trust your practice.
Researchers have found that the mere exposure effect occurs even if people do not consciously remember that they have seen the object (or brand) before. A possible explanation for this is that humans are risk averse: New means dangerous, familiar means safe. So reaching for the brand they have had some prior exposure to feels like less of a gamble – which is key during troubling economic times.
This doesn’t mean dumping all of your marketing budget into repeating the same Facebook ads over and over, but it does mean now is not the time to cut digital advertising from your budget.
Now more than ever, you need to be out in your community showcasing your brand, so that when things do stabilize, you’ve been showcased and built a connection with potential new patients.
Invest more in search engine results.
Investing more in long-term organic SEO strategies that keep your practice ranking high on Google search results will be the key to getting long dividends on your marketing dollars. It’s much harder to regain traction that is lost and many practices will abandon their work to maintain their positioning.
At the end of the day, if you strategize properly this is an opportunity for your practice to secure future wealth – not doom and gloom.
If you focus on marketing a low selling point alone, all you can do is go lower until you aren’t profiting anymore. You have to have a solid brand to fall back on.
Need more tips?
eNox Media has had hands-on experience helping businesses maintain and grow during the great recession of 2007 to 2009.
The first practice we started working with, Feldman Orthodontics, experienced a 1.3% revenue decrease between 2006 and 2007, which then led to a 27.3% increase between 2007 and 2007, a 12.5% increase between 2008 and 2009, followed by a 19.1% increase between 2009 and 2010 for a net total increase of 69.9% between 2006 and 2010.
We understand the unique needs of orthodontic practices through uncertain economic eras.
If you want to maximize your marketing efforts in this uncertain atmosphere, we’re here to create a custom strategy that works best for you.
We provide custom solutions, because what might work for one practice won’t work for another. Explore our work, learn about our orthodontic marketing solutions and growth strategies for all types of practices, and better yet – book a complimentary discovery session with us.