Using Community Events to Give Your Marketing an Extra Boost

By Jenni Bollman, Marketing Coach & Robyn Damaris, Brand Strategist

“Alone we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” – Hellen Keller

One of the most untapped areas of marketing for dentists is community events. For a little effort and time, participating in community events can return huge investments for dental offices. But, if done incorrectly, community events can also suck time and money from a practice and bring in no new patients. In order to help you get a jump start on this often untapped marketing goldmine, we’ve put together a few of our best community event strategies for you.

Why community events you may ask? It does wonders for your brand. Traditional methods of marketing – radio ads, billboard ads, mailing campaigns, online advertisement, etc. – are essential to attracting new patients, but participation in appropriate community events can bring extra awareness of your office and the services you provide.

While events aren’t a replacement for your traditional marketing, they are key to a well-rounded marketing strategy. Primarily, participation in events:

  1. Solidifies in your existing patients mind that they go to the best dentist in town. And it keeps your practice in front of your patients’ minds so if they have a friend who needs a referral, they think of you first.
  2. Makes potential patients aware of your presence in town and “puts a face to a name” by showing them that you are real people within their community. The next time they need dental services, your name will pop into their heads because you’ve been right in front of their eyes.

Start Here – Know Who You Are

It might seem like common sense, but you need to start with knowing who you are, identifying your target audience, and determining what message you want them to hear. This starting point can make or break an event. You can do all the right things but if you’re at the wrong event for your target group, your event participation will do nothing but waste your time. So start here – Ask yourself:

  1. What kind of dentistry do I do and want to promote?
  2. Who do I want my message to reach? Who needs the dentistry I provide?
  3. What message do I want them to hear?

Knowing these three things will help guide you toward events that will be the most successful for your practice and goals. For example, if you’re focused on implant dentistry, it wouldn’t make sense to sponsor a kids activity fair. But partnering with a nearby retirement complex and sponsoring events there could be a good strategy.

Researching Possibilities – Go Where the People Are

Once you solidify what service you want to promote and know who your target is, it’s time to figure out where those people hang out. So poll the office and pull out Google! It’s a good bet that if you’re familiar with your community, you’ll have a few ideas of events you could get involved with. But your team and Google may have some ideas:

  • Ask Your Team: It’s likely that your team knows about events you don’t. Have them provide suggestions. (Don’t forget to tell them the reasons and goal for community events.)
  • Ask Google: Pull out your favorite search engine and look up events in your area. You might find some interesting suggestions.

Hint: Strategies will change depending on what type of community your office is located in. If you’re in a small town or the suburbs, community events, fairs, parades, festivals, and school events could be the perfect fit for you. If you’re located in a larger metropolitan area, going to nearby businesses, companies, and specialized events could be more effective.

How to Make an Event Successful

So you’ve decided on an event, signed up, gotten the details together, and the team is excited too! Now what? There are a few things that go into making an event successful in accomplishing your brand awareness and marketing goals. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Advertise the Event – Don’t do all the legwork and forget to tell people what’s going on! Promote it on social media. Tell your patients (use your email system). Put posters up in your office and in community hang out places. Get the word out! A good rule of thumb is to start promoting 6 weeks before the event.
  • Branding pieces – Get your team in t-shirts or polos that advertise your practice and include a table cloth, banner, and other items that showcase your logo and brand. You want people to know it’s you and remember you.
  • Custom offer – Offer something special that people want: free whitening, free consultation, 20% discount when they mention they saw you at so-an-so event. Give them a reason to contact you and give yourself a way to track leads you get from the event.
  • Custom print material – No one is going to schedule an appointment while they’re talking to you at an event. So give people something to walk away with: a flyer, postcard, brochure or something else that has your contact information and special offer on it. Hint: A PDA | Marketing Group Graphics Retainer can give you the design expertise you need to create custom flyers for community events. Click here to learn more.
  • Custom SWAG – High-quality, appropriate giveaways (mugs, notepads, t0shirts, pens, cup holders, etc.) are always fun, as long as they’re the quality items with the messaging you want to convey.

Hints and Tips

As you start doing your homework into community events, here here are a few best practices to keep in mind as you’re going through the process.

  • Get your team on board. For community events to be successful for your practice, your team needs to be enthusiastic participants. While you’ll sometimes see doctors out working events with their staff, it takes buy in from the whole team to participate in events. If they believe in spreading your message, they will be your best advocates and spokes people, and cheerfully put in the extra work.
  • Start small. The sheer number of events you could participate in can be overwhelming. You can start small – why not contact one local restaurant and see if they would put flyers in their office in exchange for you giving gift cards to their restaurant to your patients for referrals?
  • Get involved with your chamber of commerce. This is a great place to start as it allows you to build relationships with other businesses in your area. It’s a great networking tool for getting your name in front of the business people in your community. And why not offer a chamber special for your new friends in the chamber of commerce. (Bonus: Don’t forget that when a link on the chamber of commerce website goes to your website, that makes you look good in the eyes of Google…great for getting your page to the top of Google searches!)
  • Think outside the box. What do a dental office and a furniture store have in common? A lot! Let’s say you want to promote the sleep apnea side of your practice. Why not partner with a local furniture store who is doing a mattress sale or sleep event?

One Last Thing

Done right, participation in community events can provide incredible ROI for dental offices. Getting yourself, your team, and your practice out into the community and into the eyes and minds of your patients and potential patients can provide an exceptional patient and revenue flow. If you need help creating custom flyers, handouts, offers, banners, and other materials, call us at PDA | Marketing Group. Our Graphics Retainers packages were designed specifically as an affordable way to support dental offices in knocking it out of the park at community events.  Now get out there and showcase your practice…show your community why you’re the best!

If you’re interested in a PDA Graphics Retaininer to showcase your practice, or if you’d like more information on how marketing with PDA can help you achieve your business goals, fill out the form below to learn how today!